In the words of Josef Schützenhöfer:

After a 24 year residency in the US I returned to Austria in 1997. My American experience seems distant now and I have elbowed out a space on the path toward art here in Austria. Certain American images and habits have remained and certainly guide me through my daily agenda.

One project in particular is tightly laced to my time of studies in Norfolk, Virginia. It was then that I noticed a title page story in the Virginia Pilot newspaper about a German submarine crew who had abandoned their sinking ship (U-85 was sunk April 14, 1942 by the U.S.S. Roper) and were subsequently killed. Their remains were buried in Newport News at Newport National Cemetery (see pictuers below).

After I read this story, I visited the burial site and found a cemetery for thousand of Americans and among them twenty-nine Nazi mariners. I was astonished and moved and thought "what dignity and compassion to bury the enemy soldier next to America’s fallen". This image has never left me. It has grown faint over the years, but recently taken on focus again.

I now live in a small house in the eastern region of Austria, The day starts with a look out the kitchen window to watch the sun rise over the Wiesberg/Pöllau elevation. In June 1944 a USAAF bomber exploded on that spot and threw its mechanical intestines and crew all about the Nazi dominated country side. In the same year 2 more US bombers crashed in the immediate vicinity. By the end of the war the total number of American bombers downed in the region of Styria numbered about 460. None the less, the Allies did bring an end to the Nazi regime and liberty to Austria.

No word of dignity, no word of beauty fair adorns the crash sites of 1944/45 today. No police records of the time mention the crew members of the Ramp Tramp, no county registrars’ page makes a reference to the Texarkana Hussy aircraft burning high in the sky. Instead a great lament can be heard across the province to this day, commenting on how great the sacrifice for the Nazi effort was.

As I stand in Pöllau, at the local monument to the losses of World War II, one can read off local names, soldiers sacrificed while marching under false hopes, for some one else’s fatherland on the plains of the Ukraine - or in the waters off the coast of North Carolina.

The names of the people who resisted and fell, the names of the deported and murdered and the names of the fallen allied soldiers who liberated this soiled land - they have gone unmentioned.

Thus I suggested to the mayor of the town, that the monument should receive a note of contrast, not directly upon the walls of the monument, but in safe distance and still on the premises. It may be somewhat late to initiate such a search for names now, but still they can be found. To start with, for example, the names of American allied fliers who vanished in the valley in 1944.

In the following is a chronological listing of events in reference to the LIBERATION IN PROGRESS project.

2001: The initial LIBERATION IN PROGRESS project description and sketches were submitted to the mayor of Poellau.

2002: Since there was no response, the request was submitted for a second time.

2003: A modified description and sketch was submitted, the mayor opposed the new image as being too bloody.

2004: The image again is modified and submitted. This time the historical society replied : "The historic society is in opposition, since the object distorts the idyllic order of the premises".

read on:
burial of 29 German marinersburial of 29 German mariners burial of 29 German mariners at Newport National Cemetery, 1942 german marinersgerman mariners personal effects from a German mariner of the Submarine U-85 burial site at NN Cemeteryburial site at NN Cemetery burial site at Newport National Cemetery proposal for Liberation markerproposal for Liberation marker Josef Schützenhöfer: proposal for Liberation Marker, sketch, 2001      proposal for Liberation Markerproposal for Liberation Marker Josef Schützenhöfer: proposal for Liberation Marker
, sketch, 2004
fallen U.S. airmanfallen U.S. airman fallen U.S. airman, Pöllau, 1944 before the lynching 1944before the lynching 1944 Josef Schützenhöfer: before the lynching 1944,
sketch, 2007
forest grave site of fallen airmanforest grave site of fallen airman forest grave site of fallen airman, Pöllau, 1944