Michael Buchmann (48) had been on tour with the orchestra and returned from a concert in Dortmund on Saturday evening. He said goodbye to his fellow musicians in front of Vienna’s Konzerthaus and decided to take the U-Bahn home to his apartment in Liesing.
“While I was waiting for an U4 train at Karlsplatz I noticed a smell of cigarette smoke. A group of three young men were standing next to me and one of them was smoking,” Buchmann told the Kurier newspaper. He pointed out to them, in German and then in English, that smoking is forbidden in U-Bahn stations.
He said that one of the men immediately became very aggressive and started swearing at him in English. “Then he came towards me and spat at me,” Buchmann added. He said that he remained calm and repeated that smoking is banned in the subway. The man then grabbed him by the neck, and kicked him – injuring his left hand.
Soon after that the train arrived and the three men got on. Buchmann said it was then that he noticed that one of his fingers was bent at a funny angle. He had also got on the same train, but decided to get out at the next stop and go to a nearby hospital. He called the police – who asked him to try and persuade the three men to stay at the station until they arrived – but they refused and ran off. Buchmann said the men were all small and didn’t speak German, and that he thinks they could be asylum seekers.
Doctors found that Buchmann has a complicated fracture to his ring finger – not a serious injury, but one that could have an impact on his career as a violinist. “As a strings player, I rely professionally on my fingers. If the movement of my finger is in anyway restricted, it would be devastating”. After consulting doctors he decided not to have an operation on his finger as it’s too risky. He now has a cast on his finger and hopes that in a few weeks it will have healed properly.
The police are investigating the incident and could charge the man concerned with causing serious bodily harm. Witnesses who saw the incident take place have said they will testify.