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159 Vienna street names have dubious history

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159 Vienna street names have dubious history
Dr-Karl-Lueger-Ring was renamed in 2012. Photo: APA/Hochmuth
15:02 CEST+02:00
Vienna has 159 streets named after controversial historical figures - some of which could be changed if local councils and residents agree.

Historian Oliver Rathkolb said there are “plenty” of streets that could be candidates for renaming. For the past two years he has researched the origins of Viennese street names in a project initiated by the University of Vienna and Vienna city council, which was submitted for the first time on Wednesday.

A street in Vienna’s 23rd district, named after the founder of the Porsche car company Ferdinand Porsche, makes the list as Porsche was a member of the German Nazi party and the SS.

Austrian cyclist Franz "Ferry” Dusika was also a member of the Nazi party and took over a Jewish owned bike shop in 1938 - he has a street named after him in the 22nd district and a stadium in the 2nd district.

Rathkolb said he did not want to be involved in any discussions about which streets should have new names, as this was up to the individual district councils and residents. He said the aim is to stimulate a debate and that many residents in fact have no idea who their street is named after.

He added that he was surprised by the number of streets still named after controversial figures - and that some had this honour due to efforts by lobbyists and associations - such as the now little-known opera singer Josef von Manowarda who was “a fervent anti-Semite and Hitler admirer”.

Next year international attention will focus on Vienna’s Stadthalle on Roland Rainer Square, which is hosting the European Song Contest. Rainer, an Austrian architect, is included in the list of names deemed “worthy of discussion”, as he was a member of the Nazi party and endorsed their policies in his writings.

In 2012, after years of debate, the name of anti-Semitic mayor Karl Lueger was removed from a section of one of Vienna's most famous streets, the Ring Boulevard. It is now known as Universitätsring, (University Ring).

Lueger was mayor of the city from 1897 to 1910, and was a major influence on the young Adolf Hitler.

At the time, city officials said that renaming streets was an unusual step to take, as the names reflect Vienna's history, good and bad.

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