A series on Central Europe


THE WORLD BEHIND VIENNA is a collection of 50 portraits, each written in the style of a personal essay. The subject of the book is the area of Central Europe situated between the Alps and the Carpathians, somewhere around the cities of Vienna and Bratislava, Györ and Brno.

The stories told are from an area separated between four countries, four official languages and a score of ethnic communities, and yet everything lies just around the corner. The region has been called several names such as “Centrope”, but there are few inhabitants who view this border-dense corner of Europe as a single entity.

I am Austrian and have been living in the Slovak border-town Devínska Nová Ves, on the slowly-healing seam of the Iron Curtain, for five years. I am one kilometre away from Austria, 30km from Hungary and 50km from the Czech Republic. From this perspective, the area appears as a natural entity. It is this perspective from which I told my stories.

Every week I visited another place, dived into another world, another language, another milieu, and from the sum of these wanderings evolved my portrait of a breathtakingly colourful region. I tell a tale of attraction and rejection, of tribal feuds and megalopolis-utopias, of the beauty, the sadness and the reality of European integration.


I have met recruits and prostitutes, a Hussite preacher and a gay horse groom, passionate visionaries and hardened nationalists. I have been bewitched by a beautiful Romni and crossed a forbidden storage la­ke to the final ruins of a flooded village.

Die Welt hinter Wien
50 Expeditionen
Publishing House Picus Vienna
On sale since 2008

The book is in German.
Several stories are translated into:
English, French, Slovak