There are many parallels, similarities and connections between Graz and Maribor. Both cities are the second largest in their countries and also centres of provinces named Styria. Just about sixty miles apart, they have been closely linked throughout the history, around a hundred years ago, cities were also in the same country. Last but not least, both cities also took the title of European Capital of Culture – Graz in 2003 and Maribor nine years later, in 2012. But there is a story that connects us in a very special way. Nikola Tesla. Nikola – Graz – Maribor – Tesla and the rest is history! it’s short story about Nikola Tesla and his connection with Maribor and Graz.
One time someone wrote that Nikola Tesla was a man who “invented the twentieth century.” It is difficult to dispute, but this great inventor also had his “bad years” and these are related to his stay in Graz and Maribor. In 1875, a young man from the village of Smiljan near Gospić began his studies at Graz Polytechnic, and in the first year he was simply brilliant. The professors of the young student were not able to overtake him, but at the same time they were sending letters to his father in Gospić and often expressed concern for his son’s over-zeal and warned against exertion.
However, the young genius once became somewhat involved in a word duel with Professor Pöschl, Head of Theoretical and Experimental Physics. Professor brought from Paris a few years earlier invented Gramme’s dynamoelectric machine, which did not work as it should. Young Tesla suggested improvements, but Professor Pöschl firmly rejected it and wrote: „Mr Tesla can accomplish great things, but he certainly never will.“
In his sophomore year, Nicholas began to fall short in his studies, passed fewer exams and became increasingly passionate about playing cards for money, and soon got into financial difficulties. In the third year, he no longer passed any exams; he lost his military scholarship, his father stopped sending him financial support, and because he could no longer pay even tuition, he was deleted from the Polytechnic list of students. Without the means of subsistence, he borrowed money from the well-known scammer Jožef Murk from Maribor, who made Tesla, same as some other students, broke because of his high interest. Together with that Tesla, was also threatened to enlist in the army.
Tesla, burdened with difficulties, traveled to Maribor at the end of 1878. Maribor was at that time a rapidly developing industrial city that introduced many technical innovations, including the use of electricity. He found a job as a technical cartoonist in the Druško foundry workshop, and his salary was expected to be 60 forints per month, which was, with all the extra money that he got for successful work, even higher than his previous earnings in Graz. The address of Tesla’s Maribor residence is still a mystery today, it is assumed that it was located somewhere on Teggethoff’s (today’s Partisan) road, near the railway station, where he was also expected to daily devote himself to playing cards at the Merry Farmer’s Inn.
Tesla did not inform his family about his breakdown in Graz and his departure for Maribor, so for some time they even thought he had committed suicide and drowned in the Mura River. Tesla’s friend and his „roommate“ from Graz, Kosta Kulišić, whom he accidentally met in January 1879, informed his family that his son was alive and well. Tesla told him that he was very satisfied in Maribor: „I got a good job with an engineer and I get a monthly salary of sixty forints, and I still have side benefits.“
Concerned father Milutin soon decidet to find his “troubled” son, trying to persuade him to quit his job and quit quartering and continue his studies in Prague in the fall. The son rejected him and argued with his father, Nikola was even expected to have a nervous breakdown, and his father Milutin disappointed returned to his home town Lika.
The only official written document confirming that the great inventor really resided in Maribor is the business record of the city authorities, the Geschäfts Protocol, of 1879, which included the records of police complaints. On March 8, 1879, the city gendarmerie, allegedly at the premises of his residence on Teggethoff’s, arrested Nikola Tesla. As he did not have a residence permit, the city authorities decided that „the concerned Nikola Tesla, without means of subsistence, be deported from Marburg to Gospic for the purpose of posting“.
And the Rest is History!
Another special bond grow couple of year ago between House! Society from Maribor and amazing people of Lendwirbel. Since 2016, we are guests at Lendwirbel festival and we would like to share with you, festival from our point of view. Se we dig trough old photos, and made small online photo exhibition. To remember past years that we have been part of Lendwirbel. Till next year, when we will visit you again!