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Tearing Down the Walls that Divide – 25 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall – Lessons in Light of the Recent US Election Results

Whether or not the politics can assert a line, which can use the large economic, scientific, technical and spiritual potential of the USA in a peaceful cooperation with the international community to  bring about a solution for the global problems of mankind — above all maintaining peace — will therefore be decisive in determining the perspectives of the US society. – Last sentence of Walter Stock’s Länder der Erde: USA (Countries of the Earth: USA), DDR 1987

For the first time in the brief but colorful history of Letts Hall dormitory, a phone rang in the distance and no one raced to respond. Not even the climax of our young lives – David Letterman’s reading of the “Top 10 Reasons Why” list – could rival this. Nothing ever had. History may be a recounting of past events but we knew this time we were living it – now – November 9, 1989, – the fall of the Berlin wall.

When operation “Wall of China” commenced on August 13, 1961, the East German government justified the 3.6-meter high, 155 km long mass of barbed wire fence and concrete as an “antifascist wall of protection.” For millions of German citizens, however, the wall represented an impenetrable obstruction dividing loved ones, for the rest of the world, the ultimate symbol of the Cold War dividing East from West. In contrast, the 7.5 meter high, 5000 km long Great Wall of China was a fortification protecting the Chinese from invading Mongol and Turkic tribes. For some, walls keep people out; for others walls keep people in.

DDR Books about USA

Books about USA purchased in DDR in East Berlin

1987 DDR book

Back cover of 1987 DDR book entitled “Countries of the Earth: USA”

My first real recognition of the walls came at age 16 when visiting East Berlin for a day. Surrendering my passport to the East German border guard, the voice of my seventh grade history teacher, resounded in my mind. “Just eight minutes from total destruction and annihilation!” he thundered fist clenching, voice rising as he paced the aisles between our desks. Silent a significant second or two he then would sneak up behind Kristin F, one of the quietest girls in our class, and explode, “Boom!” nearly jolting her and the rest of us to tears. Mr. M. dramatically confirmed what we were all knew to be a fact of lives.

We were the Cold War generation.

Our trivia repertoire included the random knowledge that if through some twist of fate we managed to be the sole survivor of a nuclear holocaust, we’d be sharing the world with cockroaches while subsisting off of Hostess Twinkie cakes.  Our lives progressed teetering on the brink nuclear annihilation and overshadowed by the imminent threat of communism.

“Don’t look so scared. I don’t bite,” the young DDR soldier grinned stamping my passport. “But we’re enemies,” I thought. Throughout the day I was confronted with more of my enemies – carefree school children teasing one another, young mothers buzzing in chatter, frail

DDr Book

Pages of 1987 DDR book “Countries of the Earth: USA” about US mass media and culture

Omas warming benches. The buildings were grey and depressing but the people were friendly and often times tried to exchange their DDR Marks for our Western blue jeans.

But we needed our pants and already had too many DDR marks to begin with. Everyone entering the DDR was required to exchange 25 DDR marks a day, which, given the very low cost of food and general lack of any consumer products, proved a difficult undertaking. And one that wasn’t optional either because transporting those DDR marks back out of the country was illegal.

With our bellies full and no interest in the DDR version of blue jeans, we wondered if it would be strictly verboten to just give the money away and somehow suspected it might. Thankfully, that’s when we spotted the bookstore -always the perfect place to spend money. While my peers went to the reference book section to stock up on German-English dictionaries, I went straight to the shelves about foreign countries.

Not all my history teachers had been like Mr. M. There was also Mr. Edelman –though I could never warm up to the beauty of his long hair and plastic comb stuck in his back pocket, I could deeply appreciate a great albeit unconventional teacher. Mr. Edelman had made it his personal mission to teach us to challenge ourselves by questioning everything we thought we knew and had ever learned. Perhaps “History is written by the victors” but the defeated also have their side of the story to tell. He had given us excerpts of textbooks from around the world containing supposed historical facts of the same periods and conflicts but with surprisingly (to my young mind at the time which still wanted to believe history was indeed facts) different information. Dates more than not matched up, yes. But the motivations, perpetrators, heroes, focuses, lessons, outcomes, not by a long shot.

“Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.” – “The Art of War,” Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu wrote that we should know our enemies and know ourselves. I tend to believe it is helpful to see how your enemy sees you and sees him- herself. So while perusing the bookshelves that day, two books in particular immediately caught my eye: “Deadly Profit Greed” (which could have been subtitled: “How the US weapons industry will do everything in its power to demonize the Soviet Union to make money with weapons”) and “Countries of the Earth: USA” which, in addition to photos of the Grand Canyon and Capitol Building, showed hurricanes, Klu Klux Clan rallies,  homeless on street benches in DC and a map of the USA detailing missile silos aimed at the Soviet Union.

While we might be exposed to a teacher like Mr. M and movies like “Red Dawn” or songs like “The Russians”, the DDR children had books detailing the US bomb silos targeting them.

Sometimes objects like walls are too close to recognize. Sometimes we can first see them for what they are from a distance – often through travel. Like the walls we erect, in time, within ourselves. As children, we automatically adopt not only our parents’ and nations’ language and culture but also the political and religious belief systems.

At some point, usually as we become teenagers, we gradually grow to question everything we once believed existed in a realm of fact beyond questioning – including the walls that divide – whether they be walls of gender, race, religion or politics The collapse of these walls trigger questions about all other walls we could be inadvertently harboring and maintaining.

What beliefs do we possess and why? Was their form and shape a conscience decision on our part, derived from a thought process we had independently undertaken or simply adopted from our family, our social class, our nation? What makes others our enemies and us theirs? Politics can divide people and instill passionate feelings of us vs. them but in the end, people are people and generally harbor similar fears and hopes for their families and loved ones. And just because you take a look at something from the “opposite side” doesn’t have to make us enemies.

Maybe your political views lead you to believe global warming is a hoax and mine that Houston could be doomed for a watery future. But maybe we both have similar views about education or writing or brownies and beer. And maybe that’s where we find our common ground and connect to overcome the us vs. them. In fact, when enough people extend their arms, and reach through the walls that divide us, the walls slowly begin to chip away and then crumble and something amazing happens — they fall and we find ourselves standing together, arm and arm, finding ways to reach similar objectives peacefully.

Back cover of DDR book about US Weapons Insdustry

Back Cover Book Description of DDR book “Tödliche Profitgier” (Deadly Profit Greed) about USA weapons industry published in 1986

One of the difficulties with walls is recognizing their existence. The 120 cm thick sheet of concrete curtain cutting through more than 190 streets of Berlin was undeniable. Even from a distance orbiting the earth, the 4.5 – 9 meter thick walls of the Great Wall are visible.

And yet, perhaps the greatest walls are those not so visible.

On November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and I and my peers sat stunned, knowing we were witnessing a historic event marking the dawn of a new era.

A few years later I was studying International Relations at the University of Vienna with a very small, very international group of students. There was John who had just retired from the US State Department and Maria who had received a special study scholarship from Latvia. Part of our studies included an invitation from the Russian Parliament to visit Moscow for two weeks in June.

Perestroika was on everyone lips and the fact that I, as an American, would be permitted to bypass the sturdy babushka clad lady seated on the women’s hall of the University of Moscow dorms to get to my room — quarters outside of a government approved residence — would have been unthinkable a few years before. That trip I not only got reprimanded by a Kalashnikov wielding guard on the Red Square for smiling and whispering as we circled around the very embalmed Lenin, I also stood in line to get my pass at the salad bar at the Moscow Pizza Hut (Vienna at the time had no Pizza Hut but Moscow did). And I swear to you it’s true when I tell you that when the sun came out that cold June and I walked through Gorki Park,  speakers attached to the trees playing rock music began blasting none other than the Scorpions “Winds of Change” over and over again.

Take me to the magic of the moment
On a glory night
Where the children of tomorrow share their dreams
With you and me – Scorpions, “Wind of Change” Print This Post

Excerpt from DDR Book "Tödliche Profitgier"

Excerpt about US film industry and anti-Soviet rhetoric (“propaganda”) with examples of films like “Rocky IV”, “Rambo” and “Red Dawn” from DDR book on USA entitled “Deadly Profit Greed”

Original German quote of translation given above from last pages of book, “Countries of the Earth: USA” Ob sich in die Politik eine Linie durchsetzen kann, die das große ökonomische, wissenschaftlich-technische und geistige Potential der USA in die friedliche Zusammenarbeit im Rahmen der internationalen Gemeinschaft zur Lösung der globalen Menschheitsprobleme — allen voran die Friedenserhaltung — einbringt, wird deshalb wesentlich über die Perspektiven der USA-Gesellschaft entschieden. (Seite 160, Stock, Walter: Länder der Erde: USA)

Whose idea was the Berlin Wall? According to the German news magazine, der Spiegel, all Khrushchev’s. Read the English translation of Klaus Wiegrefe’s  Spiegel article here: “The Krushchev Connection: Who Ordered the Construction of the Berlin Wall?

However, an article entitled, “East Germans Pressured Soviets to Build Berlin Wall” by Jodi Koehn on the Wilsons Center website purports that the East Germans pressured Soviets to build the wall


Sex, Sermons, Socrates and Streetcars

A good sermon should be like a woman’s skirt: short enough to arouse interest but long enough to cover the essentials.” – Ronald Knox (English priest, theologian and author of detective stories)

In writing, there is a technique to heighten a story’s tension (and as a writer, you almost always want to maintain interest). You physically trap your mild mannered characters in a situation that they can’t readily escape in order to spark their extremes. If you do this right, you force them to confront something unpleasant.

Movies do this.

Never say: “It could be worse.”

Remember Hans Solo, Luke Skywalker, cutie Chewbacca and Princess Leia in the trash compactor? They duck into what they think is just an ordinary room. First the bullets ricochet because the room’s magnetic, then a snake gets Luke and as if that’s not enough,  without warning, the walls start moving inwards. Hans Solo, our nonchalant hero remarks, “One thing’s for sure. We’re all gonna be a lot thinner!” How can Princess Leia resist? Again, Harrison Ford, but this time as Indiana Jones, forced to confront his aversion to snakes by being dropped into a pit of vipers in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” “Snakes, why’d it have to be snakes?” Or speaking of snakes, how about that classic action thriller of 2006 – “Snakes on a Plane” — in which hundreds of snakes are released on a passenger plane in an attempt to kill a trial witness? Or Will Smith in “I am Legend” trapped in NYC with a bunch of feisty zombies. You get the idea. Trap the character in a place he or she can’t get out of and force them to confront something annoying. That builds tension.

Likewise, this past week, I was happily making my way after work to meet a friend for dinner when I realized I was running a bit late. So I decided to break away from my preferred modus operandi of transportation in Vienna’s first district (per pedes), and take the D-Tram to make a quick round along the Ringstraße. Don’t get me wrong, I love Vienna’s Bims – particularly if you manage to get just the right seat in winter when the stinging Siberian winds mercilessly snip at all pedestrians wandering the sidewalks. If you get that seat, you find yourself growing toasty within seconds from the heater just below your wooden bench.

So there I am, happy little me looking forward to some good wine and good food with a good friend, as I board what I think is just a simple old ordinary D Tram in the middle of evening rush hour with every seat and the aisle completely full. This left me nowhere to stand but in the area at the door beside a seemingly harmless well dressed, grey-haired gentleman.

Vienna Ring Tram 1

Vienna Ring Tram

At first from the way he was leaning toward the rest of those seated, I thought he looked like some kind of tour guide for a senior citizens’ group out to see the city. Or perhaps it was the typed notes complete with after-thoughts scribbled in blue and black ink in the margins or maybe just his air of authority, but I definitely sized up the situation wrong and should have taken better heed of the stunned expressions of the fellow passengers.

No sooner had the doors closed and the old tram inched its way forward, that I realized my predicament. I had not joined fellow passengers, I had joined fellow audience members. Did I say audience? Well, I meant to say congregation.

What he lacked in a pulpit, altar and choir, he made up for in gusto, conviction and tenacity.

“Pre-martial sex leads to those who engage in its evil ways to be struck with the HIV virus. Yes ladies, and gentleman, you need to turn your back from the evil ways and stop sinning and engaging in per-martial sex. A young woman, 22 years old who engaged in per-marital sex was brutally murdered by her partner. Murdered! Her young body dead…”

He then bowed and mumbled in a sing-song tone a two minute prayer for all our sins which he abruptly broke off to quickly dive back into a sermon about per-marital sex and AIDs.

I kid you not, when I say that just a day or two before I had been discussing Socrates with someone studying philosophy. Apparently Socrates spent his days going to the market stalls in Athens to spout off his notions of life and living. And not everyone was so convinced of his philosophical pursuits. His wife, Xanthippe, for example, often fetched him and no doubt dragged him back home by the ear, all the while complaining that he should find a real job like his friend Crito and spend his time doing useful things like cutting stone or herding sheep. This might explain why Socrates once said, “My advice to you is, get married. If you find a good wife, you’ll be happy; if not, you’ll become a philosopher.”

Vienna Ringstraße Tram 1 Line

Vienna Ringstraße Tram Line 1

The Vienna D-Tram had no philosopher’s wife but definitely some doubting Thomases.

By the time the tram had arrived at the next stop, the well-dressed university student sitting caddy corner to us merely three feet away, butt in.

“Could you please stop your preaching?” He asked rather politely, I thought, considering we were all rather trapped. “No one here is interested in what you have to say.”

Though I have to admit, I was certainly curious how crazy Mr. Streetcar-Sermon-Man would get and had even put my cell phone on record to better take note of his lecture. So to claim that no one was interested wasn’t exactly true. But there was no need for me to stand up and argue. The portly gentleman in the aisle next to the student, who looked like he was on his way from his construction job to the next Beisl, raised his voice in rebuttal.

“I do. I want to hear what he has to say.”

The stunned student turned to the fellow D-Tram traveler breaking rank. “Then go on over there next to him and have a conversation,” the student replied. “He’s disturbing me. Not everyone here agrees with him and not everyone should have to listen to him.”

Undeterred, the construction worker replied, “A bit of morality would do everyone here some good.”

I eyed the folks clutching their backpacks, texting on iPhones and fiddling with their city maps. Just minutes before they all looked so harmless. Was Mr. Constructor Workerman on to something?

Quite unexpectedly, a young lady from the back of the tram, closer to the spontaneous preacher, piped up, “Not all people who are HIV positive get it from AIDs and married women are often murdered by their spouses.”

Things were just getting interesting when, unfortunately, we arrived at Volkstheater and a good two thirds of the passengers stood up and started moving towards the doors. Obviously Preacherman’s stop as well. He grabbed his grocery dolly but before allowing anyone to pass by him to get through the door, he turned to his D-tram flock, raised his hand and waited for a bit of quiet. Then he announced our homework assignment: “Go home and read the Bible every day for an hour.”

Then he was gone. The doors closed and the D-Tram inched forward once again in an all too disappointingly ordinary manner.

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Star Wars, Trash Compactor Scene – and you thought you were having a bad day!


How to Catch a Stray Horse – Running in Vienna’s Prater

I know a place where the path is wide, the air is sweet and time stands still.

So I guess you might call me a runner. Or maybe a slow jogger. OK. Let’s face it. I run at a speed walker’s tempo. So call me what you will.

But hey! Immerhin.

And what can beat an hour along an Allee lined with majestic chestnut trees? The sun’s golden fingers stretching through the boughs creating a Spiel of light and dark along the path. The ravens with their exalted demeanor perch on the sign posts along the way. Do you see the snails, laboradors, fiakers, bicyclists, unicyclists, rollerbladers, Nordic walkers and enjoying-the-dayers? Or have you dipped for a few precious moments into the world within? Should I have? Will I? And what happens when?

Vienna Prater Alle offers runners a 4 km // 8 km // or 12 km (with race track loop) running route

Vienna Prater Alle offers runners a 4 km // 8 km // or 12 km (with race track loop) running route

But you never know what can happen along a run. Maybe someone asks directions. Or you see an injured baby porcupine and help a passer by in a rescue effort. Or maybe something happens like it happened to me this past April.

A horse. So many horses. But wait! This one was different! Galloping. So freely. Too freely! I turned abruptly. Further down, around Lusthaus were cars and sometimes construction vehicles. What if…

I raced in her direction, calling to her sweetly, in a sing song voice. She slowed, stopped and dipped her head. The blades of grass here must be particularly sweet.

Carefully, caaarefully, I approached. “Hey there, you. Where you off too? You a hungry, girl? Look at you. So gorgeous” She nibbled, two eyes minding the grass, two ears minding me. “Lose your rider, girl? Hmm?” I held out my hand and waited. Then I gently rubbed her muzzle.

“Wow! She’s yours now!” From the corner of my eye I caught a pair of black running shorts and a red t-shirt. Fit and smiling, he wiped his sweat strewn brow and called over to me from the path, about 10 meters away.

“She’d never fit in my apartment,” I responded.

“You got her though. She was fast. You a rider?”

Prater is perfect for running

Prater is perfect for running

“No but I’ve ridden.” And who doesn’t love these gigantic gentle creatures?

“Well, looks like you know what you’re doing. Need help?” He asked, still not venturing a step closer.

“I’m good,” I responded, wrapping her reins around my hand.

Prater - where Fiakers go to sleep

Prater – where Fiakers go to sleep

Promptly he placed his headphones back on. “Good luck,” he called, looking relieved as he waved good-bye.

Did he mean me, or the horse?

As I child, I had always wished for a horse. Now I couldn’t help but recognize the irony of this wish coming true. Now. Like this. A Monkey’s Paw kind of gift. But the horse remained unfazed by the recent turn of events. There was grass to be eaten.

What does one do with an Irish Cob — a horse the size and stature of an Anheuser Busch Clydesdale? Wait for the beer wagon?

I remembered the race track Freudenau behind the Lusthaus. Whatever the case, they’d have stables and what difference would one horse more or less make? I clicked my tongue and coaxed her towards Lusthaus.

“See any riders without a horse?” I asked two joggers.

They paused, eyed me and turned to my equine companion for a rational explanation.

“I found a horse without a rider,” I continued, perturbed by the slightly really-I’m-not-crazy tone they provoked.

Seek and ye shall find.

“Hey!” A distinguished looking gentleman far beyond his retirement years straight off the cover of Fox Hunting and Country Estates emerged from the woods. He was decked out in a riding cap, jacket, pants, gloves, black rubber boots and a dressage whip which seemed a bit over the top. He approached us in a hop-skip –flapping-waving arms routine as speedily as his hop-skip-flapping-waving moves allowed.

And those joggers thought I looked crazy.

We waited. Everything about him screamed rider except for one significantly lacking item – a horse. My newfound friend seemed unimpressed by this gentleman. In fact, her demeanor conveyed an unmistakably indifferent air of  “Oh. There-he-is-again.”

“Such a naughty girl. Second time this week she’s gotten away from me.”

That’s right. Not once, but apparently twice, Darby girl high tailed it through the park. I patted her muzzle once more. God, I admired her tenacity.

Toss the load and take off running because I know a place where the path is wide, the air is sweet and time stands still.

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Prateralle distance from Lusthaus to underpass to Praterstern subway station: One way: 4 km // Round trip: 8 km. The path can be extended an additional four km by completing the circuit from Lusthaus, past the chapel Maria Grün back to the race track Freudenau and returning to Lusthaus.

Lusthaus – Maria Grün – Rennbahn

There are also numerous forest paths that lead every which way. Those more ambitious can run from Prater to the Danube or to the Danube Island (Donauinsel).

Distance markers, light paths at night

“Vienna’s green lungs” offers well-maintained running trails, paved, or with mulch or wooded.

Getting there: Parking is available for cars. Lots of people bike to Prater. If you want to take public, you can get there by subway (U1 or U2) to Praterstern or you can take the U2 to Donau Marina subway station and hop the 77A bus to the Lusthaus. Another alternative is to hop on the N tram from Schwedenplatz.




Krampus is Coming to Get You!

Krampus misunderstanding - he thinks KC's been naughty

Krampus misunderstanding – he thinks KC’s been naughty

Making a list. Checking it twice. Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice.

And you? Worried. Just a little. Maybe more than a little? Cause you haven’t behaved. Right? Come on, now. Admit it.

I see that smile. Oh yeah. You’ve been naughty, haven’t you?

The workout regime that always starts tomorrow. The paper you promised weeks ago (you know the one I mean). The call from Auntie Em you didn’t manage to pick up in time. The text message you never got. The last piece of double chocolate extra rich cake you didn’t eat.

Krampus takes the bad and leaves the good

Krampus takes the bad and leaves the good

Ahh, yes. You’ve been naughty, alright. And this year it won’t be a lump of coal in your stocking. Nope. This is the year you’ll be making a close encounter of a goat something or another kind. They’re coming from the mountains. Coming from their caves. Wielding their sticks. Clanging their bells. And they just LOVE naughtiness.

And you know who you are. You know exactly who you are.

Yep. While all the good kiddies did their homework, and ate their sauerkraut, you were in your man cave watching Breaking Bad, and pretending to fix the vacuum cleaner. You can fool Auntie Em but you can’t fool Nikolas. He’ll be stuffing bags filled with mandarins, nuts, chocolate and cookies in the shoes of all the shiny happy good people of the world. Nauseatingly well-behaved. You know the ones. And your shoes? They’ll remain an empty stinking reminder of missed opportunity. The opportunity to have been good and do what you were told. But you didn’t. And rarely do.

These Aussies must not have been too naughty

These Aussies must not have been too naughty

And this year, my naughty little friend, you’re gonna pay. You can try to find a place to cower and hide but that man cave of yours won’t do you any good. Not this year. Because this year…

Krampus is coming.

It starts harmless enough. An innocent suggestion to visit the advent market at the old castle. Ahh, how nice. Austria. Traditional. The Old Country. Land of Silent Nights and children who dress in sailor suits and sing Christmas carols with their angelic little voices. Where Christmas is still about the Holiday spirit. A Christmas market. A real live Christmas market. Like under the train set. Only better. With live ABBA music, hand-carved manager scenes, gingerbread hearts, and hot roasted chestnuts sold in paper cones. Quaint. Genuine.

Krampus and KC

Krampus and KC plotting to get those who are naughty

Until darkness settles in the shadows beyond the decorated trees and the cold starts nipping at our noses, and we elbow our way to the Punsch stand Austrian style. You mistake the glint in my eyes for the after-glow of Waterloo or the before glow of Glühwein, but in fact it is something far more sinister, my friend.


Krampus Gathering

The Krampus Huddle

Because that rattle of the chain beyond the stands and through the gate beckoning throngs of parents to drag their terrified children into the courtyard, is also a summoning you, my imp, naughty old you.

Innocently, so unassumingly, I suggest, “Let’s go and see what’s up.”

And you? Tingly with Glühwein, you smile and follow.

Poor bright-eyed bushy-tailed ignorant you.

Lump of coal in your stocking. You wish.

No, you’re in Krampusland now and the furry monsters have awakened from the depths of their dungeon-like dens to come and fetch you.

The bonfire rages, and the grunts intensify as the doors to the castle shake. A poem. Someone recites a poem and I translate. At first you are tickled pink. How sweet. A poem about Nikolas rewarding the well-behaved children.

Krampus with Babies

Krampus with Babies

But wait! There’s more!

Rhymes of beatings and punishment for those –like you—who misbehave.

Yep. You can run but you can’t hide.


Music bellows through the night – a terrifying heed to the creatures from beyond.

“Come get them! They’re here! The naughty ones are gathered and ready!” The unspoken words thunder in time to the music.

Krampus' Basket

Krampus fetches the Naughty Ones and puts them in his basket and whisks them to his cave

They are coming to snatch you up, toss you in their baskets and haul you down into their wicked caves.

The doors smash open. It’s time.

Nikolas  vanishes.

Not one, not two, a whole herd of otherworldly creatures burst into the screaming masses. Smoke and fire follow in their wake. Cow bells clang the dreadful chimes of doom. An angry sea of black, brown, grey and white goat hides. Ungodly horns sharpened to pierce the darkest souls slice the icy air. Blood-shot eyes ravenous for victims scan the trembling prey. Jagged teeth and snake-like tongues hang in anticipation.

Armed with chains, cauldrons and Ruten the demons sway and dance, and push through the screeching throngs looking for you. An hour, how long an hour can seem — like an eternity — maybe longer, they search, they target, they wave their Rute and grunt and chase.

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Krampus Clang with Cow Bells

Krampuses Clang with Cow Bells

Yes, the Krampuses have come.

Have you been good?


Rute: branches tied together — the Krampus tool of choice for corporal punishment
Perchta/Perchten: another word used for Krampus
Perchtenlauf/Krampuslauf: “Krampus run” — describes the event of the Krampuses coming
Katscher Krampus: the Krampuses featured here (from the Schloss Neugebäude Krampuslauf in Vienna on Dec 7, 2013)
December 5 & 6: Krampus comes on the 5th and Nicolas on the 6th but they often come together as a team — whoever said Krampuses can’t work efficiently — but they can show up anytime from about Dec 1 – Dec 9, so be vigilant.
cow bells: Krampus must-have accessory to notify parents to “Bring out you kids”

Krampus uses a "Rute" made of jagged branches to beat naughty ones (no one dares to tell him it's forbidden)

Krampus uses a “Rute” to beat out the naughtiness (no one dares to tell him corporal punishment is now a no-no)

basket: the Krampus backpack complete with naughty-kid compartment
chains: another Krampus must-have accessory
Schadenfreude: joy at another’s (deserved) misfortune –and don’t act like you have never experienced it or the Krampus will get you for lying.
Inquisition: hard times for Krampus because he was forbidden (no one was allowed to imitate the devil but
Krampus perservered in remote villages – he’s no whimp)
Don’t tell anyone I told you- some people suspect there might be young gentlemen who dress up like Krampuses which would explain why many young ladies have often been the targets of  many a swinging Rute throughout the decades
Horns: often from chamois
Fur: from goats
Masks: usually hand-carved from wood
ABBA: indication in Austria that the party is bound to be good and worth attending– Austrians almost love ABBA more than they love the Hapsburgs and if you want to make friends and influence people in this country — know your ABBA trivia and song lyrics

Krampus with boy and girl

Krampus with boy and girl

Paper promised weeks ago — you know which one and Krampus will find you cause I gave him your name and address.
Auntie Em: a sweet lady whose phone calls you should NEVER ignore because the guilt you will suffer is far more dire than the Krampus’ wrath (right, Auntie Em?)

Krampus and a very "brav" KC

Krampus and a very “brav” KC

Krampus and Aussies

Krampus and Aussies