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Austrians Support Refugees With A Profound Silence


There's an unusual song at the top of the Austrian iTunes charts this week. It really isn't a song at all. It's one minute of silence in honor of refugees. Austria, like other European countries, has seen a surge in people seeking asylum. It's expecting some 80,000 people this year. Those countries are contending with how to house and care for refugees and make them a part of their country. Raoul Haspel is the artist behind the track. He joins us from Vienna. Thanks so much for being with us.

RAOL HASPEL: Thank you for having me.

SIMON: And we call this a track because it's not exactly a song. It's a minute of silence, but what's the title of this track?

HASPEL: The title of the track is "Schweigeminute." That's the German word for the minute of silence.

SIMON: And there's a second part to the title, too, though, isn't there?

HASPEL: There is. It's called "Traiskirchen." It's a tiny city close to Vienna. It's the name of the refugee camp where the people from Syria and around this area suffer right now.

SIMON: And Amnesty International has questioned conditions at the camp, too, I gather.

HASPEL: Questions put nicely. They put together a paper about the situation there that is just beyond (ph).

SIMON: They were quite critical of the camp for, what they called, I believe, inhumane conditions. Mr. Haspel, what do you think a minute of silence does that a song wouldn't?

HASPEL: Take it from real life. Whenever there is a conflict situation, it usually is the loudest people are not the most helpful there. So I just took this, combined it with a media hack to motivate people to buy a minute of silence there. So it's a huge sign of solidarity with the refugees in the camp.

SIMON: What happens to any profits from the track?

HASPEL: Of course, every cent goes to the refugees in the camp. The money that iTunes and all these platforms deduct from the earnings, I will pay that cash. So in the end, 100 percent of all donations will go to the refugees.

SIMON: Raoul Haspel, an artist, and he's now a chart topper in Austria. Thanks so much for speaking with us.

HASPEL: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.