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

Biomass Sales Consultant

£20000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Company...

Java Developer

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My Client are a successful software hous...

Senior Analyst - Financial Modelling

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: This really is a fantastic chance to joi...

MS Dynamics NAV/Navision Developer

£45000 - £53000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: **MS DYNAMICS N...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The legal definition of terrorism threatens to criminalise us all

Mike Harris
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game