Vienna poised at the end of the 19th century. A striking mix of political ferment, intellectual creativity, gaiety and despair. Resident are an astonishing collection of people whose work would later touch not only Vienna, but resound world-wide: Freud in psychiatry, Mahler in music, Hertzl with the Zionist movement and Klimt in art. And at the center of political and social life of the city is its bright hope for the coming new century - Crown Prince Rudolf. Through 1888 the pace in the city builds to a fever pitch as Vienna begins its season of Carnival.
The other side of Vienna - hopeless poverty. A repressive regime. Catholic Vienna is rich in suicides - more per capita than other European cities. And not just simple suicides, but bizarre suicides staged with flair... The tightrope walker who leapt from a window with a rope attached to his neck, his note explaining "The rope was my life and the rope is my death." Morton tells us "he left a diary which consisted of paper scraps artfully tied together by a miniature rope."
On January 30th, Vienna's bright hope faded when the Crown Prince Rudolf capped the suicide season by killing his mistress, Mary Vetsera, and then himself at his hunting lodge, Mayerling. The hopes for the new century were gone. And then, just four months later, on April 20th, 1889 the harbinger of the new century, Adolf Hitler, was born. And none of us were the same again