On the Ring Boulevard, driving by the main university building of my alma mater, I remembered my uncle Bobble, the younger brother of my father, Alfred Wilhelm Freiherr von Kap-herr. Uncle Bobble was the highest ranking member of the Federal Department of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, promoted to the position of Chief of that department in Vienna in the early 1940s, when he came to live there with his wife and three small children. He recognised early on that the war in Russia would end in a miserable defeat for Germany, and that Vienna would be subject to a brutal occupation by the Red Army. With this foresight, he brought several trainloads of dried peas, a non-perishable staple, from Bulgaria, and had it stored in warehouses across several districts of Vienna. And as it turned out, when the Russian army invaded Vienna, they raided every food store, but left the peas to the populace to sustain themselves.
However, food resources were still a terrible problem. By April 1947, the people of Vienna were becoming desperate, as the Austrian government was no longer able to distribute any rations. On the 5th of May, this state of near-starvation culminated in a violent food riot. The people of Vienna, driven mad by their exclusively pea diet, exploded. To mollify them, the Russian occupation forces began to allow the purchase of a particularly intoxicating alcoholic beverage, ominously called ‘Sturm’. Translated to English, it means ‘storm’ and consists of fermented freshly pressed grape juice.
Thankfully, before the Viennese starved to death, the United States government released $300 million in food aid. My uncle left Vienna with his family before the end of the war, so did not witness the survival of its people, mainly thanks to his wisdom and his conscientious contribution of provisions. When I returned to Vienna from my summer holidays in Salzburg to resume my studies in September, I was impressed by the happy-go-lucky spirit of the Viennese people. Of course, they were spared from their depression by a pleasant fog of spirit fumes and flatulence.
To be cont.