On our previous trips to Salzburg, we had met beggars, usually around the railway station. One woman with a top of the range buggy and a computer printed sheet in several languages tried her luck, but got nowhere with us. I buy the Austrian equivalent of the Big Issue when I can especially as we understood begging is banned.
This trip was quite different. On the Mozart bridge and on street corners, were sat people with some form of disability – one guy had no legs. We saw another with a crutch that was so short, he was either severely bent or it was done for pity. Each of them whined, I’m not sure what language, but Dave said he heard, ‘Bitte, bitte, bitte’ and they held out Macdonalds paper coffee cups. We later retraced some of our steps and it was obvious there had been a moving of people to different locations.
It struck me that this was organized gang work. The Disabled were probably enslaved and run by them from somewhere in Eastern Europe. Why is this allowed to go on, it doesn’t require brainsurgery to work out how to catch the gang leaders and round them all up. But then again for what, they would be deported back to their home where there was probably no state support. I still would have liked to steal one of them and bring them home, pick them off day by day and give them safety………naive. Yes, but the council of Salzburg and the Police seem almost complicit as I saw it.