I know I won't be leaving here with you
March 2, 2013 11:43 AM   Subscribe

But he was also attracted to the dark side of life: the filth of the prisons, the opium dens, the slaughterhouses and the execution sites. In June, he headed for a particularly gruesome destination: New Caledonia, an enormous prison at the time.

Some 8,000 prisoners lived on the island, crammed into 50-man barracks. Already when he arrived in the port, the future heir to the throne gazed into the grim faces of criminals building quay walls and breaking rocks. Others toiled in the nickel mines. If an inmate managed to escape into the forest, he was usually killed by the natives. Every fugitive brought a 25-franc reward.
Spiegel covers a newly published diary of Franz Ferdinand, the man later killed by the "shot heard 'round the world".
posted by brony (42 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
So this is NOT about a Scottish band?

posted by Fizz at 11:51 AM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Good work on the title though.
posted by Artw at 12:04 PM on March 2, 2013 [11 favorites]

I visited Franz Ferdinand's residence, Konopiste Castle, in the Czech Republic not too long ago. It was like some alternate universe version of the American Natural History Museum, just falls and halls and halls full of dead animals, guns, swords, lances, more guns, and mounted horns. Like, an acre of horns. A herd of horns. Arranged by size down the carpeted halls, each one with a little sign for when and where it was shot. Just ...staggering and depressing and creepy. The ravel site I used to book it even said "Warning For Animal Lovers" before visiting.
posted by The Whelk at 12:05 PM on March 2, 2013 [6 favorites]

(oh and the ridiculous Oriental smoking room, the height of exotic camp, and the elevator which was more like a little salon with lamps and chairs. Totally surreal and overwhelming environment, trying to imagine the kind of person who lived there.)
posted by The Whelk at 12:08 PM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

This guy seems like the Imperialist's Imperialist. And a bit of a shit, all things told.

When the gold-bedecked Nizam of Hyderabad invited him to dinner, the table bowed under the weight of exotic dishes. A flock of brightly colored birds flew out of the cake when it was cut. Later, they drank champagne in the jungle.

Only the music was not to the visitor's liking. The Indian orchestra had a "penchant for off-key, screeching clarinets and flutes," he noted reprovingly. He also wrote that the Austrian national anthem could "hardly be recognized" because "some of the musical imps playing for us were constantly a number of bars ahead of the rest."

There were also other places where the author paid no heed to political correctness: He thought the Chinese were "deceitful" and Bombay's fakirs were work-shy. He called the towers where the Parsi laid out their dead to be consumed by vultures "sites of human humiliation."

Nevertheless, he generally had an understanding for proper etiquette. He looked dapper in his white uniform, with a riding crop and mustache.

Those were different times, etc...
posted by Artw at 12:12 PM on March 2, 2013

(he brought down 274,889 game animals)

That's fucking insane.
posted by brennen at 12:20 PM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

He actually seems less of a Imperialist caricature to me after reading this. There's the casual racism that's to be expected, but he's also outraged at the way the Europeans treat the natives, sympathetic to natives' acts of rebellion, etc. And his observations about the US are pretty much spot on.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:23 PM on March 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

Visual Reference
posted by The Whelk at 12:24 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's hard to imagine anyone saying "shooting this guy would be a really bad idea". Unfortunatly. Ah, hindsight...
posted by Artw at 12:27 PM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Wait wasn't Ferdinand considered something of a reformist (for values of Austro-Hungarian aristocrat levels of reform) due to his relative youth? I seem to recall reading more than a few arguments to that effect.
posted by The Whelk at 12:28 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

This curiously cropped up as I was reading The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig (trans. Helmut Ripperger, 1943), and had just gotten to his account of hearing of Ferdinand's assassination among a crowd celebrating the feast day of Sts. Peter and Paul in a park. Zweig's acrid remarks on the archduke's unpopularity, while not entirely out of tone with what else I have read about Ferdinand's reputation at the time, are comically sweeping and perhaps a little tinged by Zweig's love of Viennese opera and theater:
More and more people pressed toward the placard; the unexpected news was passed on from one to the other. But to be honest, there was no particular shock or dismay to be seen on their faces, for the heir-apparent was not at all well-liked. ... Franz Ferdinand lacked everything that counts for real popularity in Austria; amiability, personal charm and easygoingness. I had often seen him in the theater. There he sat in his box, broad and mighty, with cold, fixed gaze, never casting a single friendly glance towards the audience or encouraging the actors with hearty applause. He was never seen to smile, and no photographs showed him relaxed. He had no sense for music, and no sense of humor, and his wife was equally unfriendly. They both were surrounded by an icy air; one knew that they had no friends, and also that the old Emperor hated him with all his heart because he did not have sufficient tact to hide his impatience to succeed to the throne. My almost mystic premonition that some misfortune would come from this man with his bulldog neck and his cold, staring eyes, was by no means a personal one but was shared by the entire nation; and so the news of his murder aroused no profound sympathy. Two hours later signs of genuine mourning were no longer to be seen. The throngs laughed and chattered and as the evening advanced music was resumed at public resorts.
The treatment contrasts interestingly with Ferdinand's play in the Spiegel article. I'd be curious to read the diaries, but also to know more about the ways in which he is seen in different parts of the German-speaking world today (if he is bothered with much at all in popular presses, beyond this book release). As others have mentioned, the picture conjured is unsurprisingly imperialistic, but not only. But I don't know that I've ever read any words from the duke himself.
posted by mcoo at 12:31 PM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

He actually seems less of a Imperialist caricature to me after reading this. There's the casual racism that's to be expected, but he's also outraged at the way the Europeans treat the natives, sympathetic to natives' acts of rebellion, etc. And his observations about the US are pretty much spot on.

Yeah, the article actually makes me want to read the diary. Which I assume is only available in German (?), which means I'm not going to read it, but it would be nice if they mentioned who it was being published by, and under what title. Or did I somehow miss that?
posted by brennen at 12:31 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Those were different times, etc...

Don't worry, Prince Philip is keeping up that good work.
posted by Conductor71 at 1:04 PM on March 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

Count me in as someone else who's thrilled that this is being published (but by whom? And will there be an English edition?). There are references to this trip and these notes that pop up in the literature about the last decades of the Habsburgs (which is a little side fascination of mine), but unlike the travelogues of FF's cousin, Crown Prince Rudolf, whose suicide in 1889 was the event that put FF in line to the throne in the first place,* it's been impossible for the public to read them.

re: 274,000+ game animals: Rudolf also published Notes on Sport and Ornithology, an account of a hunting expedition that underlines just how integral the fairly constant slaughter of animals was to the pastime of royalty. I can't find the exact numbers right now, but Rudolf's own painstakingly kept records at the time of his death at age 31 (at his hunting lodge, appropriately enough) indicate tens if not hundreds of thousands of birds, stags, boars, bears, etc. killed.

The Whelk: FF was considered less reactionary than Franz Josef, but certainly nowhere near as reformist/liberal as Rudolf, who was considered practically traitorous in his liberal beliefs in crazy things like science, education, suffrage, public works, etc. (Also, more about his fondness for exotic camp, in the form of "Turkish salons," here.) Rudolf and FF pretty much couldn't stand each other for this reason (among many).

*Fun (for certain definitions of "fun") fact: Franz Ferdinand wasn't actually first in line after Rudolf died; next in line was Franz Josef's younger brother, Karl Ludwig (FJ's other brother, Maximilian, having been executed in Mexico some decades previously). Karl Ludwig renounced his rights to succession in favor of FF within a few days. By most accounts, FF didn't particularly want the job, and FJ didn't particularly want him to have it. (The emperor wasn't ever particularly pleased that Rudolf was his heir, either, being hostile to his son as a liberal, intellectual, and a libertine who had a tendency to consort with whores, Jews, and -- possibly worst of all -- journalists.) Rumor had it that the emperor preferred FF's younger brother Otto (called by some ladies of the aristocracy "the most wicked man in Europe"), who was notorious for jumping horses over funeral corteges and allegedly once appeared in a dining room at the Hotel Sacher naked except for his saber and white gloves. FF and FJ always disliked and distrusted each other; FJ was particular indignant that FF had insisted on marrying a non-royal, and suspected that FF's tuberculosis would make him a weakling. Thoughts that Otto might eventually become heir, however, never came to pass, and he died in 1906 of complications of syphilis (in his later years he had to wear a leather nose to hide the fact that his own nose and upper jaw had essentially collapsed... a gruesome metaphor for the empire, perhaps?). Upon FF's death, it was Otto's son Karl who became heir, and eventually the last emperor.
posted by scody at 1:07 PM on March 2, 2013 [23 favorites]

If Karl Kraus, one of my heroes, liked the guy, that's good enough for me—he didn't have much patience for the high-born. (Setting aside the question of all those animals; WTF, nineteenth-century royalty?)

> it would be nice if they mentioned who it was being published by, and under what title.

Franz Ferdinand: Tagebuch meiner Reise um die Erde, 1892–1893, 2 vols. 1895, Reprint: Books on Demand / Nabu Press, 2010–2012, ISBN 978-1-146-75879-6, ISBN 978-1-142-79832-1.
posted by languagehat at 1:07 PM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Ah scody, thanks. I'm getting my heirs to the Austro-Hungarian throne mixed up (again!)
posted by The Whelk at 1:24 PM on March 2, 2013

My thanks to scody too. Not at all surprised to hear that Zweig bent the world quite a ways to fit his own tastes.
posted by mcoo at 1:27 PM on March 2, 2013

Thanks, languagehat.
posted by brennen at 2:28 PM on March 2, 2013

Great article, but I refuse to believe he shot an average of almost 15 animals a day, every day of his life from the age of 0 to 50.
posted by vorpal bunny at 2:34 PM on March 2, 2013

cowboys cavalierly put their feet on the table in his presence

This actually makes me feel somewhat proud to be part-American.

Also, who the fuck shoots a koala?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:38 PM on March 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

It was charging!
posted by Artw at 2:40 PM on March 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

Great article, but I refuse to believe he shot an average of almost 15 animals a day, every day of his life from the age of 0 to 50.

I imagine that includes animals shot by other members of his parties, but have you never seen a Victorian game counter? The ones made for fowl go even higher. It is difficult for us to imagine the scale of the hunt back then.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:44 PM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Vorpal bunny, did you see that photo I linked to? That was a short hallway, whole castle was floor to ceiling animal trophies, all dated and numbered by when he ( or who he as with) had shot it.
posted by The Whelk at 3:09 PM on March 2, 2013

mcoo: yeah, Zweig's an interesting case; World of Yesterday is fascinating (and a wonderful source of details about that period), but is certainly filtered through his own lens. Contrast his description of people gaily shrugging of the news of Franz Ferdinand's death with Frederic Morton's somewhat more sober account:
Never since the suicide of Crown Prince Rudolf twenty-five years earlier had so much music stopped so suddenly in Vienna.

There was a difference, though. Back in 1889, Rudolf had been Austria's gracious and graceful young promise. His death had anguished the empire, seeming to sever it from its future. Now, in 1914, Vienna was startled but not stricken. Franz Ferdinand's arctic image had thawed a bit lately, but for most citizens he evoked neither hope nor youth nor grace. His public face was lined too grimly, his mustaches were too much like fixed bayonets [terrible metaphor alert - scody]. He augured oppression at home, abrasiveness abroad.

"If that archduke had lived to sit on the throne," Freud said the day after the assassination to a patient, "War with Russia would have been inevitable." The truth was precisely the reverse. Yet most Viennese shared Freud's breezy misjudgment and mistaken relief. This included the realm's highest councillors... They absorbed his death rather briskly. ...The journal of [one minister] confides... "one noted, yes, consternation and indignation but also a certain easing of mood."
So in one way Zweig is right, but in another way -- as you note -- his account is a little self-serving of his own prejudices, though these were in their own way reflective of the prejudices of his class (educated, Jewish, liberal) as well as the broader prejudices of the Viennese. Which is to say, few in Austria were particularly inclined to feel a personal connection with FF the way they had with Rudolf (romantic, handsome, melancholy, tragic, "man of the people," etc.) or with Franz Josef ("the Old Gentleman" that everyone had grown up with, and who had the talent for putting forward absolutism with an avuncular face). Rudolf's suicide also played into the Viennese death cult in a way that FF's assassination didn't.

Also interesting to note is that by the time FF was assassinated, public sentiment had shifted in many ways from identifying with the royal family anyway (particularly after Empress Elisabeth's assassination in 1898) to identifying with the mayor of Vienna, Karl Lueger. At the public opening ceremonies of the great Ferris wheel at the Prater in 1897, for example, popular accounts have it that Lueger received far more rapturous applause and cheers than did Franz Josef, about whom it was quipped that "he reigns, but no longer rules."
posted by scody at 3:14 PM on March 2, 2013 [7 favorites]

I had no idea Pynchon's portrayal of him in Against the Day was so...well, not accurate, but close. 'st los, Hund?
posted by Merzbau at 3:38 PM on March 2, 2013

(he brought down 274,889 game animals)

That's fucking insane.

Indeed. Everyone with any class knows you should stop after the first quarter million.
posted by yoink at 4:20 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had no idea Pynchon's portrayal of him in Against the Day was so...well, not accurate, but close. 'st los, Hund?

I'm not sure why, but the Pynchon is rarely lauded for his diligent research, outside of the die hard base. Actually, even in his fan base, too. Granted, he takes liberties here and there, but he's always had a good amount of book cracking behind it. He's an author's author, and as much as people want to make him into a literary shaman, of sorts, who uncovers forgotten artifacts from history's cabinets through dreams and divine happenstance, it's a disservice to his meticulousness.

(I'm sorry, Merz. I know you weren't intending such. I'm just a little touchy about these things )
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 4:45 PM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Also, who the fuck shoots a koala?

He thought it was a drop bear.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:51 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also, who the fuck shoots a koala?

I'd think it'd normally be someone trying to get some sleep. Those things suck to live near.
posted by pompomtom at 6:23 PM on March 2, 2013

TheWhiteSkull: "Also, who the fuck shoots a koala?"

Someone who eats shoots and leaves?
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:05 PM on March 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

One volume is on on Archive.org. (And also on Google play). But there appear to be quite a few scanning errors.
posted by Jahaza at 8:38 PM on March 2, 2013

He was only poked by a tattooist who pierced him 52,000 times with a needle to create a dragon on his arm
What did it look like and was it in color? Was it done in one sitting? Upper or lower, right or left? What kind of dragon? Details!

I'm intrigued by the excerpts, I'll need to 'find' a copy of this somewhere.
posted by variella at 8:46 PM on March 2, 2013

It's made more interesting by being the MeFi soup of the day. Notably the Spiegel piece doesn't have direct quotes - my guess is this is something better to read about. However on the subject of mass slaughter by hunting, Gustave Flaubert's short story "The Legend of Saint Julian the Hospitalier" (1877) is hard to beat for quality writing. The LibriVox recording by David Barnes is very well done.
posted by stbalbach at 9:19 PM on March 2, 2013

That really does seem crazy with the quarter of a million animals. You know, I have friends who hunt. Given the opportunity to kill dozens of deer all day, every day, for as long as they wanted....I really can't see them taking it. I think they would find that repellent. But I know in this country, in the US, the same thing was done with the buffalo. Piles of their bodies just left to rot on the plains. Shouldn't people just get bored by killing animals like that eventually?
posted by thelonius at 9:20 PM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

(he brought down 274,889 game animals)

On average, that's about 14 per day, every day of his life. Christ. Maybe Gavrilo Princip was an animal rights activist.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 10:43 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Great article, but I refuse to believe he shot an average of almost 15 animals a day, every day of his life from the age of 0 to 50.
vorpal bunny, maybe you're misunderstanding what they're saying. He didn't shoot that many every day; he averaged that many.

Hunting small birds with birdshot guns (killing several per shot), shooting hundreds of bison a day from the safety of a moving railroad car, and so on: obsessive hunters from the "idle rich" could generate massive kill lists in those days, unfettered by anything resembling regulation.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:04 AM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

So basically, it would sort of have been fair if a wild animal had shot him?
posted by maiamaia at 2:57 PM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Also, the person recruited to shoot him had learning difficulties, i believe: a common tactic to this day amongst both states assassinating or, more usually, bombing, other states on the sly, and terrorists. Plus ca change, plus c'est le meme chose.
posted by maiamaia at 2:58 PM on March 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Teach me to RTFLinks...I got through most of the comments wondering why the fuck a German was the first man killed in the US Revolutionary war. Oops.
posted by nevercalm at 3:54 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

RTFLinks further, I see that I might have Schoolhouse Rocks! to blame for that. Seems about right.
posted by nevercalm at 3:55 PM on March 3, 2013

I visited the museum in Sarajevo which commemorates Franz-Ferdinand and it was a strange experience. The mugseum is right by where he and his wife were killed. She was pregnant btw.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 4:37 PM on March 3, 2013

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