Emperor Karl on his way into exile

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Stefan Zweig witnesses the final departure of the last Austrian monarch into Swiss exile in 1919.

On 23 March 1919 the eminent Austrian writer Stefan Zweig happened to encounter Emperor Karl, who was in a train travelling in the opposite direction bound for Switzerland. In his memoirs Die Welt von Gestern (The World of Yesterday) Stefan Zweig records this encounter.

“… And now I saw his heir, the last Emperor of Austria, leaving the country as an exile. The glorious succession of the Habsburgs, who from century to century had handed on the imperial orb and crown from hand to hand, was ending at this very minute. Everyone around us sensed history, world history, in this tragic sight. The gendarmes, the police, the soldiers seemed embarrassed and looked aside awkwardly, unsure whether the old salute was still in order … At this moment the Monarchy, almost one thousand years old, was truly at an end. I knew that it was a different Austria, a different world, to which I was returning.”

Anita Winkler