No statue of Polish king in Vienna

John III Sobieski was King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1674 until his death in 1696. Wikimedia commons/public domain

The city hall claims the statue presenting John III Sobieski, who defeated the Ottoman army at the Battle of Vienna in 1683, would have an “anti-Turkish tone.”

Despite the statue of King Jan III Sobieski already having been cast, it will not be placed in Austria’s capital city. The unveiling of the statue had originally been planned for September 12, marking 335 years since of the Battle of Vienna.

On Thursday, the head of the Vienna State Parliament, Ernst Woller, announced a statement explaining his decision.

Mr Woller argued that the necessary condition to erect a statue in the city is the positive opinion of Vienna’s monumental council, and said that the council had issued a negative decision. Instead of Vienna, the statue will be placed in Kraków, southern Poland. The mayors of both cities have agreed on the transfer.

The city of Vienna has proposed a new international contest which would eventually select a new project of the statue which would “comply with modern standards.”

The author of the project, Czesław Dźwigaj from the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, responded to the news by saying that “it's like a situation when you've built a house and have all the necessary paperwork, and a committee comes along and says that it needs to be torn down because they want something different.”

The sculptor also said that there were “no anti-Turkish tones” in the statue. “Somebody just wanted for it not to be put up,” he said.

Disquiet had surrounded the John III Sobieski monument in Vienna for some time prior to the news. In June the Vienna Memorial authorities released a statement in which they wrote that it was “not the right time” to be erecting military monuments in the city.

John III Sobieski was King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1674 until his death in 1696. His greatest success came in 1683, when leading Polish, German, and Austrian troops, Sobieski defeated the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Vienna.

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