The Ratline - From Vienna and Back, with Love, Lies and Justice

Patočka Memorial Lecture 2021

After his visit had to be postponed several times, Philippe Sands was finally able to come to Vienna on 5 October 2021 at the invitation of the IWM to hold the 32nd Patočka Memorial Lecture.

To mark the publication of the English language version of The Ratline, which follows his prize-winning book East West Street, Philippe Sands explored the ideas that underpin his new work, an account of the lives of Otto von Wächter, an Austrian SS Gruppenführer indicted for mass murder, his wife Charlotte, from the moment they met Vienna in April 1929 to his unexpected death in Rome in 1949. The lecture was built around a set of deeply personal stories that explore the role of justice, the legacy of memory across generations, and the impulses that generate our search for truth.

Philippe Sands is professor of law at University College London and visiting professor at Harvard Law School, and a barrister at Matrix Chambers. He is the President of English PEN and a member of the Board of the Hay Festival of Arts and Literature, and has made BBC programmes that include My Nazi Legacy, a Storyville film, and The Ratline, a Radio 4 series and podcast.

The IWM Jan Patočka Memorial Lectures series was established in 1987. The Czech thinker Jan Patočka (1907-1977) is considered one of the most important modern philosophers in Central Europe and was a co-founder and spokesman for the civil rights movement Charter 77. His works have been researched and published at the Institute for Human Sciences since the 1980s. The series of lectures was inaugurated by Hans-Georg Gadamer and is taking place for the 32nd time this year. Previous speakers include Nancy Fraser, Lord Dahrendorf, Edward W. Said, Albert O. Hirschman, Francois Furet, Jaques Derrida, Leszek Kolakowski and, most recently, Lord Skidelsky, Chantal Mouffe and Aleida Assmann.