How the Viennese Reacted to a Night of Terror – with Solidarity, Resilience and Wit

It was a night of grief and terror. But in their unique way, the Viennese showed heroism, resilience and wit.

It was a night of grief, shock and terror for the Viennese. The attacks that started yesterday at 20:00 on Vienna’s Schwedenplatz, with operations still ongoing today, have shaken the city. But it also didn’t take long for messages of support, solidarity and just downright Viennese stories to pour in.

We collected many reaction on social networks.

As events were unfolding, the Vienna Police Department called on everyone to stay inside and seek shelter – in multiple languages, to reach all people who live in our city.

As public transport was stopped and people in the inner districts were called to go inside, people all across Vienna offered offer their apartments as a place for the night under the hashtag #Schwedenplatz.

In several videos of the shooting scenes on Schwedenplatz, you can hear someone from a window scream “Schleich di, du Oarschloch!” at the attacker (Viennese for “Get lost, you asshole!”). No situation, no matter how dire, can take their ready wit from the Viennese.

And the Viennese turned it right away into their motto.

That is the “Vienna that they know and love so much,” people wrote – perhaps not heroic, but having a stance and standing behind it, no matter what.

According to a Reddit thread, another person threw a vase at the terrorist while he was on his rampage, after which the attacker started to shoot at the apartment. With this distraction, the police could take the terrorist out.

The Viennese also celebrated their heroes – the brave police forces, paramedics and first responders. Austrian journalist Florian Klenk wrote: “I’m just watching the police operation and haven’t seen anything like it in my life. Men who risk their lives to protect the temple [in Seitenstettengasse] and Vienna. With a gun at the ready and fear. Those are heroes.”

And more stories of civilians acting heroically poured in. A young Viennese of Palestinian origin carried a wounded policeman behind a protective concrete bench and applied first aid to staunch his injury. Osama Abu El Hosna (also Osama Joda on social media) continued to help the wounded policeman while the terrorist kept shooting in their direction.

In a fateful twist, the family of the young Osama was at the center of a local controversy last year, when they wanted to purchase a house in the Lower Austrian village of Weikendorf. The mayor and city council had sought to ban the family from buying the house, a decision that was later revoked by the courts. The mayor had argued that “The different cultures of the Islamic as well as the Western world” would be “far apart in their values, customs and traditions.”

Now, Osama Abu El Hosna has saved a life of an Austrian policeman.

After that, two young Viennese of Turkish origin helped the policeman get to an ambulance amid the bullet storm.

The Syrian-born Viennese Basel Abo Khaled, who usually works as a security agent in the first district, also helped three wounded passersby to get to the hospital in his private car.

In the meantime, while the police asked people to stay inside, the Vienna Philharmonics gave an encore for the audience holding out in Vienna State Opera.

The Viennese underlined their resilience.

“Vienna stays Vienna. Vienna stays leiwand. The terrorists and those who want to use terror will end up empty-handed.”

“#Vienna. Our response to hate is: Solidarity.”

A flood of messages of solidarity and support also poured in from other parts of Europe and the world, in multiple languages.

The Viennese police thanked the population for their help and support in multiple languages and scripts.

On the next day, the sun came out. And the Viennese were again out and about.

Vienna stands tall. And it stands together.

May it long be that way!

Benjamin Wolf
Benjamin studied Journalism, History and International Affairs. After stints with Cafébabel in Paris and Arte in Strasbourg, he is now working as managing editor and COO for Metropole in Vienna. Fields of expertise are politics, economics, culture, and history.Photo: Visual Hub

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