I was a young girl when it all started. My lifelong obsession and interest in “Sisi”, the monarchy, the past. And it all started with the world famous “Sissi” trilogy movies from the 50s. So romantic … and such wonderful clothes. I always wished to possess a crinoline gown – which I was allowed to at least realize with my debutante gown, using a crinoline with a diameter of 1 m. I felt like a real princess that night, dancing through the night … and as a kid? I made my own crinoline gown, using a peasant skirt from my sister, a hula hoop and two long strings to hold it up like suspenders … quite ingenious, right?

Through Romy Schneider’s portrayal of Empress Elisabeth of Austria I wanted to know everything about her. And thanks to my parents, who were interested in everything as well, I got the chance to visit the Castle Schönbrunn in Vienna, the Hofburg, the Hermes Villa, the Kaiservilla in Bad Ischl, the Kapuzinergruft. The admiration and awe I felt walking along the long corridors of those places, being in their living quarters, thinking about the Emperor and Empress who had walked exactly where I was walking then … just incredible. My Sisi novels were my greatest treasure – and I wish I still had them. But instead I replaced them with historic accounts of the Empress. First of all, the famous one written by historian Elisabeth Hamann. Followed by others more recently and having discovered to be distantly related to the actress and friend of the monarchs, Katharina Schratt, I devoured everything about her as well.

Apart from the Empress, Romy Schneider was my big hero and I collected everything about her … she too died way too early in 1982 (I was a young girl then and cut out every article I could find, pasting the pages into my Romy Schneider fan book, which I still have.) I know she tried to escape the Sissi image all her life, moving to France to become a character actor. But still, she could never quite shake it. And whenever one of her movies were on Austrian TV (The swimming pool, Katja, The girl and the inspector, Christine, The walker from Sans-Souci, What’s new pussy cat, Monpti, Scampolo and many more) I just had to watch it. I remember one occasion as if it were yesterday, my grandmother was visiting us from Styria and I had so been looking forward to my Romy Schneider movie “The girl and the inspector” but I wasn’t allowed to watch. Because my grandmother and mother wanted to watch a crappy folksy music show … I was so mad. (In those days, of course we only had one TV and a VCR was still in the future! Boy, am I old!!!)

Empress Elisabeth and Romy Schneider, two tragic lives. Both lost their sons, both felt the need to get away from restraints put on them. Elisabeth from the strict Viennese court, Romy from the Sissi image.Both in the throes of melancholy and depression. The one dealing with it by travelling and writing poems, the other one dulling the pain with medications. Two women, two fates. So different and still so similar. I tribute both of them!



  1. Love your post about women’s life. I know a little bit of Sisi and Romy Schneider. And watched the Sisi triology. They always make me wonder if happiness is really attainable for women in general. Just look at Sisi and Romy. I mean they have beauty, popularity, etc and etc. Still their lives are plagued by tragedies and dissatisfaction.

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    1. Thanks for your lovely reply. Yes, on the outside they had it all and were still not happy. Romy was haunted by her Sisi image all life long, Sisi was stuck in the strict restraints of the Austrian court. As much as I admire them … I wouldn’t have wanted to live their lives (apart from as a child 😁 and having no money woes would be nice too). I think apart from everything us women do live in a better time now. Imagine having no rights, dependent on husbands, dying in childbirth … however, I’m horrified about what’s going on in the US regarding women’s abortion rights and the whole LBGTQ rights issue … such a big step backwards.

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      1. Yes, we talked about this among friends. The future (I mean immediate future) sounds a little upsetting to say the least. Not only women’s rights are rolled back and Roe vs Wade being overturned, but also being Asians incur a lot of danger. And the mid-term election is coming and Democrats are expected to lose; and in two years, Democrats are expected to lose White House. It’s just going to get worse. Future is terrifying just to think about it. However, don’t let my pessimism go any further. Let’s hope for the best…

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      2. Keeping my fingers crossed. I was so happy when Biden won, thinking Trump would finally disappear forever. Unfortunately, he is not. And the power he still wields over the GOP, and all those lies … I just can’t grasp how stupid people are who fall for politicians like him. Excusing everything. He could murder someone and still come up smelling like roses. (Well, considering his lies and behavior during the pandemic he certainly is responsible for many deaths.) and this hate towards other cultures and religions … I just don’t get it. Especially cultures which are not stuck in the middle ages … I do resent some of their behaviors… but Jews? Asians? African Americans? In today’s multicultural and international day and age? It’s terrifying

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      3. My friend, who’s more pessimistic than I am, said people might have felt the same way before WWII as we feel now. I hope this is not true, but I have no way of knowing what people felt before WWII. Last year, we all thought things were going to look up and the pandemic would subside by now. Little did we know that this year we are in a worse situation than last year. No….. don’t get me started. Let’s just focus on the good things… LOL. We know one person in the community holding three passports from three different countries in three different continents. We used to laugh at him, only to realize now that he’s probably right–he can always have a backup place to escape to when one or two country become politically insane or one or two continents are engulfed in wars.

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      4. Yes, let’s remain positive and hope for the best. Three passports? Awesome! But I do understand … even though Germany and Austria are next to each other and the inflation etc is the same … I can’t wait to move back home. Even though it will be very expensive and costs will be higher there than in Germany. But I want to go home …

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      5. Best wishes to you, your friends and relatives. Let’s hope that it is not going to be bad at all and we are just overthinking and overworrying. I hope so. History will not repeat itself and especially bad history will not repeat itself. Things will become better. Don’t give ourselves up to gloomy thoughts. Let’s be happy and fulfilled.

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