… BUT WE GOT PEOPLE.”
Max Frisch 1965
In 1973 – I was aged barely 17 – the first significant migration movements reached Austria. The country needed cheap work force for upcoming industry and thousands and thousands of migrants from Yugoslavia and a little bit later from Turkey were looking for more attractive salary. Most of them were male and came alone to send major parts of the earned wage back home but some of them brought along their whole families.
The hot spot for those immigrants was the Viennese Südbahnhof (Vienna Main Station South). It was the ultimate destination for people from the Balkan countries and Turkey. Every day train by train arrived from the south and I was highly interested what kind of people those were coming to my hometown. I shot lots of photos, in the Main Hall, on the platforms, at the station’s gates. To miss not anything I spent two nights right in the Main Station Hall, slept on the stony benches wrapping the camera on my wrist. I observed laughter and tears, hope and lethargy, men and women, children and grandparents. Some of the people were astonished when I released the shutter, some of them remained incuriously.
But for me the Viennese Südbahnhof was not the end of the line: The immigrants settled down and established. And because the workers we wanted turned out to be people I stayed with it and shot further lots of pictures when they lived their daily life in Vienna.
Now – more than 45 years later – The Wien Museum hosted the whole Südbahnhof-Series I shot in those days and nights into their archives. Some of the photos will be shown in temporary exhibitions within The Migration Collection. Substantial material belonging to migration in Austria including text and 4 photographs from the Südbahnhof-Series also were published by The Wien Museum:
Schere Topf Papier – Objekte zur Migrationsgeschichte
Arif Akkilic, Vida Bakondy, Ljubomir Bratic, Regina Wonsich (Editors/Hg.)
Mandelbaum Verlag Vienna 2016, ISBN 978-3-854-76-510-3 (German Language)
All photos by courtesy of The Wien Museum