Rainer Nowak: We can't blame the rest of the world for this

Share
Related Topics

The international media has descended again on the country that spawned The Monster, on the scene where the monstrous crime was perpetrated and among the people who could not, or would not, prevent it. Journalists from around the world struggle to make sense of it. It's much the same for me, except that being Austrian myself, I will have to go on living here when it's all over.

The first question: how could it happen, won't be answered by this trial. The deeds of Josef Fritzl are, I hope, unique in Austrian, and perhaps even European, criminal history. Yet Austrian journalists themselves find it to difficult to grasp the real nature of this case. In a small but telling detail, most of the Austrian media speak of the "incest trial" as if the court was dealing chiefly with incest although it is the least significant of all the charges.

That a man rapes, imprisons and tortures his daughter was always going to turn this into a major international story. The coverage has nevertheless been fairly benign. Admittedly, paparazzi initially besieged the hospital where Elisabeth Fritzl and her children were taken. But they now live – and will hopefully continue to do so – anonymously with new names in a new place. Yet Austria is reacting with ever more bewilderment. Ostensibly to protect what is left of the privacy of the victims, the case is being heard virtually in camera, which, while a good thing in terms of victim protection, will hardly guarantee the sympathy and understanding of hundreds of international journalists.

As for opinion in Austria, sadly, nothing much has changed. The fear that for the next few years Austria will be synonymous with Fritzl, Kampusch and Jörg Haider, is widespread and frankly, justified. The question is how to respond. Unfortunately, we react as we always do. We slip back into an inferiority complex; we react in the way many Belgians reacted after the Dutroux case; we complain that the outside world is against us and is putting Austria itself on trial.

After the Fritzl case came to light, the former chancellor, Alfred Gusenbauer, said Austria would have to work hard on its image.

On day one of the Fritzl trial, the volume of international coverage is deeply uncomfortable for Austrians. That there is nothing typically Austrian about such a case is the only logic one can apply. So why do we hypocritically criticise the British and Germans while running Fritzl photos, interviews and reports with a strange mixture of revulsion and awe. Now that really is something to be ashamed of.

The writer is a commentator for the Austrian newspaper Die Presse

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Service Engineer - Vehicles

£25000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's premier supplie...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Separate lives: Boston’s streets illustrate the divide between the town’s communities  

Migrants have far more to offer than hard work and wealth creation, yet too many exist in isolation from the rest of society

Emily Dugan
Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird has sold 40 million copies  

Go Set a Watchman: Harper Lee’s new novel is more than just a literary event

Joseph Charlton
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate