When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Sources

A Four-Star Vienna Hotel, Formerly A Hellish Orphanage

Shock is spreading across Austria where allegations are emerging of systemic violence, sexual abuse and child prostitution dating from the 1970s in Schloss Wilhelminenberg, a Vienna foster home. Some Austrian leaders want to change the statute of limitati

Schloss Wilhelminenberg (Wikipedia)
Schloss Wilhelminenberg (Wikipedia)
Michael Frank

VIENNA - Today, the former Schloss Wilhelminenberg foster home is a four-star hotel. From the terrace, there is a panoramic view of the Vienna woodlands and the city center. But in the 1970s it was a home for so-called "social orphans," children whose families were unwilling or unable to take care of them. If the accounts of a growing number of them are to be believed, it was the orphanage from hell.

So far, accounts by two women, both in their late forties, have been made public. They paint a picture of sexual abuse and daily torture with a racist component – one of the staffers in the home, the women said, used to tell the children that "as Gypsies, you don't have the right to live."

The Austrian daily Kurier reported that children were shown movies and photographs of Nazi concentration camps and told that "dark" people were killed there. "They would then ask us if we understood that we belonged there too because we didn't have a right to live."

Descriptions of beatings, sleep deprivation, and psycho-terror contribute to the suspicion that behind the mass rapes perpetrated by both male staffers and other men at the home lay an organized child prostitution ring. Very young girls were particularly targeted – female staffers used to dress them up in garter belts, and they were forbidden to cut their hair.

An Austrian group called the Weißer Ring that helps victims of violence and sexual abuse, as well as the state prosecutor's office, say that the claims of the alleged victims are credible.

The women said that men from outside the home, as well as staffers who worked in the boys' section, would be let loose in a room of up to 20 girls. "Nobody escaped sexual abuse," according to the women. The suspicion that money changed hands for these sessions seems to match descriptions of the men's sadism. Four men are being investigated, and complaints have also been filed against an unknown number of others.

Four of the five parties in the Austria parliament (only the People's Party opposes it) support either extending statutes of limitations that apply in such cases -- or doing away with such statutes altogether, as it often takes the traumatized victims of such abuse decades before they have the strength to come forward.

Read the original article in German

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

That Man In Mariupol: Is Putin Using A Body Double To Avoid Public Appearances?

Putin really is meeting with Xi in Moscow — we know that. But there are credible experts saying that the person who showed up in Mariupol the day before was someone else — the latest report that the Russian president uses a doppelganger for meetings and appearances.

screen grab of Putin in a dark down jacket

During the visit to Mariupol, the Presidential office only released screen grabs of a video

Russian President Press Office/TASS via ZUMA
Anna Akage

Have no doubt, the Vladimir Putin we’re seeing alongside Xi Jinping this week is the real Vladimir Putin. But it’s a question that is being asked after a range of credible experts have accused the Russian president of sending a body double for a high-profile visit this past weekend in the occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Reports and conspiracy theories have circulated in the past about the Russian leader using a stand-in because of health or security issues. But the reaction to the Kremlin leader's trip to Mariupol is the first time that multiple credible sources — including those who’ve spent time with him in the past — have cast doubt on the identity of the man who showed up in the southeastern Ukrainian city that Russia took over last spring after a months-long siege.

Russian opposition politician Gennady Gudkov is among those who confidently claim that a Putin look-alike, or rather one of his look-alikes, was in the Ukrainian city.

"Now that there is a war going on, I don't rule out the possibility that someone strongly resembling or disguised as Putin is playing his role," Gudkov said.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest