This is an interesting biography of one woman, Paula Preradović, who lived quite low-key but justified her family heritage as the offspring of one of the biggest Croatian poets. Her legacy is very present in the culture of Croatia, Austria and much further.
Paula was born in 1887 in Vienna as the first of five children of Dušan Preradović and Helene Falke von Lilienstein. Her father was the son of one of Croatia’s biggest poets, Petar Preradović. At the age of two, Paula, together with her family, moved to Pula where her father worked as a royal navy officer.
There she attended elementary and juvenile-bourgeois school, and at the age of 14 years, she continued at Sankt Pölten boarding school. After graduation, she traveled a lot to the Croatian coast, especially Dalmatia, and in 1913 went to one-year Red Cross course in Munich.
When Paula returned from Munich, she applied for work as a nurse in the military hospital where she met her future husband, doctor Ernst Molden, whom she married in 1916 and had two sons. During the WWII, her sons joined the resistance movement against Nazism. That led Gestapo to put Paula and her husband under arrest. Luckily, everybody from the family survived the horrors of the war and her sons became quite successful in the future.
Paula’s father was a great Croatian patriot and so he raised his children in that spirit. Even as a girl, Paula was already writing poems and in 1909 she dedicated her poem to her grandfather Petar Preradović. Paula Preradović mostly wrote about the Croatian past, and in 1929, she released her first collection of poems – Südlicher Sommer (South Summer). The second – Die Dalmatinischen Sonette (Dalmatian Sonnets) dates back to 1933, in which, as in the first one, she gave nostalgic feelings to the land of her youth and origin. She was celebrating the beauty of the Adriatic coast, referring to Croatian cultural heritage, people and customs. The third collection – Lob Gottes im Gebirge (Thanks to God in the Hills) dates back to 1936, and the fourth – Ritter, Tod und Teufel (Knight, Death, and Devil) ten years later. She also wrote a few novels, inspired mostly by her grandfather, which were praised in the German press of that time.
Her latest work – Die Versuchung des Columba (Columbus Trials) was a bigger novel that dated back to 1951. That same year, on May 25th, Paula died. She was buried with her husband in the central Vienna cemetery.
All her work was compiled and issued in 1967 in Vienna by son Fritz Molden, under the title “Paula von Preradović; Gesammelte Werke”. Immediately after the Second World War, in the contest for the new text of the Austrian National Anthem, among the 1800 participants, it was Pula’s poem – Land der Berge, Land am Strome (Land of the Mountain, River Land) that won the contest!
In 1947, Paula’s words combined with the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart from 1791, was confirmed as the new anthem of the Republic of Austria. The postmark of Europe with the image of Paula von Preradović and the title of the anthem was issued on May 17, 1996, by the Austrian Post Office.
Paula Preradović followed her inspiration and creative mind but never forgetting her origin. Although not physically with us, her magical words keep her alive every time the Austrian anthem is playing somewhere in the world.