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Ugly Historical Truths

, | Learning | December 29, 2016

(My first and only class trip in high school took us to Austria, Germany, and Strasbourg in France. Since our first destination is Vienna, our awesome teacher talked a bit about the Habsburg family, basically explaining that while they were a great house, they weren’t an especially loved one and were also very ugly people. We all laugh until we get to Schoenbrunn, where one can see the Habsburg family tree with photos/portraits near the names, and the famous Empress Sissi is the only exception from the rule. It is a big deal for us, since we are fifteen and very immature. Fast forward to last week in a university class. We’re talking about the end of the GDR – East Germany.)

Teacher: “…it was a stalemate situation, and then Otto von Habsburg came along.” *looks at us expectantly*

(I should mention this was a history class, but only I and three others are actual history students, the rest of the class being filled with sociologists and Europeanists. I am not sure if he is actually from the Austrian Habsburg, so I don’t speak. Everyone else looks pretty lost at this question.)

Teacher: “Haven’t you heard of him? All right, I guess you might have not… Do any of you know who the Habsburgs were?”

Me: *before I could stop myself* “They were these ugly people from the Schoenbrunn palace.”

(Laughter erupts, teacher included.)

Teacher: “Well, for all intents and purposes, you are right… Of course, they were emperors and kings and dukes, and Otto himself was the nephew of Franz Ferdinand, whose murder started WWI.”

Me: “Sorry… My fifteen-year-old self just couldn’t keep her mouth shut.”

(I loved this class, and I’m so writing my bachelor thesis with that teacher!)

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