American troops and the Austrian National Bank

The American colonel Georg von Halban had a difficult task in early summer of 1945 in destroyed Vienna: He had to confiscate a large, undestroyed, representative building for the future center of the American occupational authorities. The Austrian national bank seemed ideal to him and his superiors agreed. The massive building was confiscated in a “festive” manner.

Only one director refused to move out. He occupied an apartment in the highest floor of the building. Halban came to him, accompanied by four Viennese policemen. He asked the bank director to leave. He turned away. Halban gave a sign to the policement. They pushed a piano to the window. The banker looked at it and was stunned.

When the other two policemen moved a couch to the window as well, the banker understood the seriousness of the situation. But it was too late. Without further ado, the piano was pushed out of the window and was smashed by a fall from a five-story building.

“I understand now.” The bank director said. “First the Russians, now you.”

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