The Austrian author Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) was born in Vienna, where he also grew up and studied. After the First World War he moved to Salzburg, where he lived for fifteen years, from 1919 to 1934.
Later, in his book Die Welt von Gestern (The World of Yesterday) he explained why he chose Salzburg as his new home: “Of all the small Austrian cities, Salzburg seemed to me the most ideal, not only because of its scenery but also because of its geographical position. Located at the edge of Austria, two and a half hours by train from Munich, ten hours from Zürich or Venice and twenty from Paris, it was a real jumping-off point for Europe.”
(Just for comparison, as of 2020 the fastest travel times by train from Salzburg are one and a half hours to Munich, five and a half hours to Zürich, six hours at least to Venice and nearly nine hours to Paris. Trains are still running during the coronavirus pandemic, but with very few passengers.)
On the same page, Zweig explained that when he moved to Salzburg it was still an “antiquarian, sleepy, romantic little city on the edge of the Alps.” It had not yet become famous for the Salzburg Festival, which each summer made it the “Rendezvous-City” for snobby “celebrities” (“otherwise I wouldn’t have chosen it as my workplace”).
Before leaving Salzburg, Stefan Zweig wrote the libretto for an opera, Die schweigsame Frau (The silent woman), for the German composer Richard Strauss.
During the years he lived in Salzburg, Stefan Zweig was one of the world’s best-known and best-selling authors. His relative obscurity today has to do with the fact that he was Jewish, and that his books were banned in Germany and later in Austria as soon as the Nazis came to power. Like the Lost generation of opera composers, there were also lost generations of writers and artists whose careers were destroyed by the Nazis, and who never did regain their old status even after the Nazis were defeated.
Zweig’s books were among those that were publicly burned in Salzburg after the Nazis took full control in 1938.
In 2008 the “Stefan Zweig Centre Salzburg” was jointly founded by Salzburg University and the Salzburg municipal and state governments. It is up on a hill where Zweig used to live, and now includes an exhibition documenting his life and work.
Zweig’s travel typewriter is on display at the centre. He always did a lot of travelling since he spoke several languages and had prominent friends in a number of different countries.
Actually, his typewriter is not so different from the ones I used before I got my first computer in 1983. See my post Cutting edge technology… of bygone decades.
The first phase of Zweig’s exile began in 1934, when he left Austria to escape the rising influence of the Nazis, four years before Austria was officially annexed by Germany. The exhibit in this photo is about the second phase of his exile, from 1940 to 1942. After living in several different countries he finally moved to Brazil, where he committed suicide (with his second wife) in 1942.
My photos in this post are from 2016. I revised the text in 2020.
See more posts on Salzburg, Austria.