The Brilliant and the Absurd in Vienna

A geopolitical journey into the city that was once the intellectual and cultural center of Europe.

George Friedman |November 15, 2018

I first came to Austria when I was six months old and left a little over a year later. Oddly, I can’t seem to recall it, but in college and the years that followed, I visited many times. Austria was the borderland of the Cold War and where many journeys started. It bordered Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Yugoslavia. It also bordered Germany and Italy, as well as neutral Switzerland – allowing access to France and beyond. And since it was neutral and weak, people from all over the world could get to Austria and, from Austria, to the rest of Europe.

Vienna was a place where chaos and intrigue were easily stirred. Soviet intelligence used it as the gateway to the West. Western intelligence used it as the gateway to the East. Others used it as a way to simply get somewhere else. The cafes at the outer rings were filled with people who knew someone who knew someone who might get something done, for a fee. Nearer the center of the city were more official-looking, well-dressed men, preten

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The Brilliant and the Absurd in Vienna