King John III Sobieski is not only known as the savior of Vienna but also the savior of Europe. Now, a statue of him has been rejected by Vienna’s left-wing government, with the city’s new Social Democrat mayor claiming it is “archaic”.
The decision may have had something to do with the leftist mayor of Vienna not wanting to look bad in the eyes of the more than half-million Muslim minority in Austria, said Piotr Zapart, the head of the Committee for Building the State of King Jan III Sobieski in Vienna.
Zapart believes that the decision to cancel the statue also concerns “some historic insecurities” of the Austrians.
Sobieski, the king of Poland, gained fame for defeating the Ottomans in the Battle of Vienna in 1683, following a two-month siege of the city, which at the time was the seat of the Holy Roman Empire.
The battle’s outcome led the Ottoman Turks to cease “to be a menace to the Christian world”, according to Walter Leitsch’s “1683: The Siege of Vienna”.
The statue, made by professor Czesław Dźwigaja, was meant to be placed on the Kahlenberg near Vienna, the hill on which Sobieski commanded his armies, to commemorate 335th anniversary of the battle last year.
“We can jokingly say that now Vienna is not a threatened city and Sobieski is not welcome,” said Zapart.
He explained that all permits had been given and there had been close cooperation between Vienna and Kraków after an agreement was signed between the mayor of Kraków, Jacek Majchrowski, and Vienna’s mayor, Michael Hauple.
Everything changed when a new mayor of Vienna was chosen – Michael Ludwig from the Social Democratic party.
The committee was invited to Vienna alongside Kraków’s mayor where they were told that the statue does not fulfill “artistic values, is archaic and Vienna is pulling back its permit.”