Skip to content Skip to navigation

A Cemetery’s Lament: Desecration and Responsibility along Vienna’s Gürtel

Tuesday, November 22, 2016 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Registration is NOT required
Free and open to the public
Public domain
Public domain

A Cemetery’s Lament: Desecration and Responsibility along Vienna’s Gürtel

Diane O’Donoghue

Along the bustling roadway known as the Gürtel, which connects Vienna’s inner city to its outskirts, extends a stretch of old that encloses the Währinger Friedhof, the Austrian capital’s oldest surviving Jewish cemetery. The notion of “survival” is, in this case, relative: partially destroyed in the years following the 1938 unification of Germany and Austria, the burial ground continued to be a site of vandalism through the decades to follow. This presentation is offered from the perspective of a descendant trained as an archeologist and an art historian, whose work has often involved the meaning of ruin. Diane O’Donoghue’s presentation will focus on the issues raised by advocating for the cemetery’s repair, as well as the challenges in creating an urban space of restitution, restoration, and rest.

Diane O’Donoghue is Senior Fellow for the Humanities at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. An archeologist and art historian, her initial scholarship focused on archaeological and cultural issues of early China, and later extended to include the relationship between these border fields and that of psychoanalysis. When she was Fulbright/Sigmund Freud Scholar at the University of Vienna, she visited the cemetery that forms the basis for this presentation. The recipient of various prizes for her writing on art history and psychoanalysis, she recently completed a book entitled On Dangerous Ground: The Visual Cultures of the Freudian Unconscious. O’Donoghue is a scholar and faculty member at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute.

This event is the last of four programs in the Memory: Mine and Ours series. The exhibition Daniel Chester French: The Female Form Revealed explores the work of America’s foremost sculptor of public monuments from the late 1870s to the late 1920s. In recognition of French’s contribution to the landscape of public memory, the Athenæum’s Memory: Mine and Ours series examines the many facets of individual and collective memory.

Watch video recordings online of the series’ other programs: Monica Pelayo’s lecture Immigration on Display and Stephen Kendrick’s book talk The Lively Place.

Assistive Listening Devices image

Most programs held in the Bayard Henry Long Room on the Athenaeum's first floor are amplified and assistive listening devices are available for patron use.

ASL Interpretation image

To request ASL interpretation services for any of the Athenaeum's programs, please contact Hannah Weisman at 617-720-7617 or