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Meeting Place for Foreign Correspondents

By Dan Durning February 2012
(Version 1.0)

The Meeting Place for International Correspondents By Dan Durning February 2012
Down in Vienna, before the Nazis acidized the pearl of European culture, there was a little place not far from the Ringstrasse known as the Café Louvre. It was simple and unpretentious, although its head-waiter, Gustav, could produce marvelous schnitzel for a mere two marks. But the important point about the Louvre is that the fact-seeking customer, by dropping in at any time after 11 p.m. could obtain gratis an up-to-the-minute bulletin on Balkan affairs. (Joseph H. Baird. Wine, Diplomats and News. The Sunday Morning Star [Wilmington, Delaware], May 10, 1942, p. 2.

Introduction If you were an American or British correspondent in Vienna during the latter years of the 1920s or during the 1930s, you likely spent many of your late afternoons and at least some of your evenings at the Café Louvre. There, you sat at a reserved table—a Stammtisch—over which Robert Best, correspondent for the United Press news agency, presided, and exchanged the latest news and gossip. Others at the table included a mixture of fellow correspondents, paid news tipsters, and others hired to help you with your reporting. Also, on any given night, the table had an array of visiting journalists; political refugees, each with their own causes; famous writers, composers, and artists; local and visiting intellectuals; and, sometimes, spies. Café Louvre played an essential role in the news gathering work of foreign journalists in Vienna, and it also enriched the social lives of the journalists and their families. Similar to the Hotel Adlon and its bar in Berlin, Café Louvre was a place to pal around with colleagues, to meet news sources, to gather intelligence, and to cultivate the personal relationships essential to success as an international correspondent. The frequent visits to the Café Louvre helped the journalists with a daunting job that required reporting news from a huge area that encompassed the many countries in Central Europe and the Balkans. The only way they could cover such a large territory was with the help of good contacts, local news services, tipsters, and other journalists doing the same job. John Gunther, writing in 1935 about his work as a foreign correspondent in Vienna, explained: [T]he basis of journalism in Europe is friendship...News gathering in Europe is largely a collaboration whereby men who know and trust one another exchange gossip, background, and information." [Gunther 1935, p.202] 1

In Vienna, at the time Gunther wrote his about his job, Café Louvre was the place where much of the news gathering took place. Coffee Houses in Vienna It is not surprising that coffee houses played an important role in the lives of foreign journalists in Vienna. They had been woven into the social fabric of Vienna's society during the Hapsburg Empire, and they became even more essential to the lives of Viennese after World War I. Louis Fischer, an American journalist who lived in Vienna in the early 1920s. explained the attraction of coffee houses for Viennese in the difficult years following WW I by telling the story of an impoverished professor of English literature whose small two-room apartment was "cold and dark." To escape those conditions, the professor went every night at 8 pm to a café. According to Fischer: The café was large and roomy and its upholstered seats were soft. Professor Ottwald had his own table, marble-covered like all the rest, and nobody else used it. Friends knew they could find him there from eight to eleven-fifteen. It was his Stammtisch [a table reserved for regular customers]. His waiter approached, addressed him cordially by name, chatted for a moment, and went off to bring him a cup of coffee and two glasses of water on a metal tray. Another employee in special uniform came over and handed him the Frankfurter Zeitung, published in Germany. After a while, the same employee, having observed that the professor had turned to the last page of the Frankfurter silently laid the London Times on the cool slab." [Fischer 1946, p.19] More than a decade later, in the 1930s, the Viennese coffee house still offered the same amenities and held the same attraction. For Gunther, who reported from Vienna for the Chicago Daily News, and most other Anglo-American journalists, the coffee houses were essential to their daily labor. Gunther's work routine included a visit at about eleven a.m. to the Café Imperial where he meet with a group of friends—mostly journalists and locals selling new tips—for a discussion of the latest news and rumors, then he spent time in the afternoons at Café Louvre. He wrote: The coffee house is, of course, the inner soul of Vienna, the essential embodiment of the spirit of the town. It is, as everyone knows, much more than just a place to drink coffee in. Coffee you may have, in literally forty different varies, but you have also literature, conversation, and peace of soul and mind. And in the Café Imperial, in the morning, and in the more modest Café Louvre, in the afternoon, you get journalism, Viennese-brand. [Gunther 1935, p.201]


In short, as Frederick Scheu [1972, pp.20-21], a Viennese who wrote for British newspapers in the 1930s, explained, for the price of a cup of coffee journalists received a nice drink, a temporary office they could use—without hassle—for as long as they wanted, and free access to the newspapers of Vienna and the world. In regard to free newspapers, Gunther [1935, p.104] noted that the Café Imperial had about 20 Viennese newspapers and between 40 and 50 foreign newspapers, and "for the price of a drink you may sit all day and read the lot." Café Louvre: Vienna's Coffee House for Foreign Journalists One interesting feature of Vienna's coffee houses was that a particular Vienna coffee house often became the main meeting place or hang out for a specific type of clientele. In the early 1920s, for example, Fischer [1946, p.20] observed: The café in Vienna was home and political arena. Certain cafés were frequented by Socialists and no Monarchist would enter them. The Monarchists had their own cafés. Other cafés whose high prices kept ordinary mortals out attracted currency speculators. In still other coffee houses longhaired poets and "left-wing prostitutes" abounded. In the 1930s, according to different writers, coffee houses still had their special clientele. For example, the Café Imperial—where Gunther met his colleagues each day—was a place where Balkan spies and revolutionaries hung out; Café Pucher was a café popular with Austrian politicians; Café Central, on Herrengasse, was a meeting place for émigré intellectuals; Café Museum was a place for artists and architects; and Café Rebhuhn (near St. Stephens) was a café frequented by Austrian journalists and commentators. [See Björkman-Goldsmith 2007, p.122; Shirer 1952, p.52-53; Cuthbertson 1992, p.104] Although British and American journalists might go to many different cafés in the course of their work, often to meet with diplomats, politicians, bureaucrats, and shady characters who could help them find and write news, Café Louvre became the main coffee house of foreign journalists. Scheu [1972, p.20] called it the "market exchange for international news" ["Das Café Louvre war die Börse für Auslandsnachrichten."]

Vienna's Cafe Imperial in 1920

How well did the Anglo-American journalists adapt to the ways of the traditional Viennese coffee house? Apparently pretty well. Else Björkman-Goldsmith, in her book recalling life in Vienna, wrote about its coffee houses in the 1930s, noting the role of Café Louvre as the hangout for foreign journalists. She wrote, "There [at Café Louvre] the old Vienna coffee-house traditions had to be defended against the attacks of people from other countries." She wrote that over time the foreigners 3

were "eingewienert," meaning roughly that they were turned into Viennese. [Björkman-Goldsmith 2007, p.122] Café Louvre was located in Vienna's inner city (1st district) at the corner of Wipplingerstrasse and Renngasse, a couple of blocks from the Austrian Stock Exchange Building (Börse) and the Ring. It was steps away from two establishments important for foreign correspondents. The first was the Central Telegraph Building, which was open 24 hours a day and had a special room for journalists. From this building, telegrams could be sent to locations throughout the world. The second was Radio Austria, which transmitted telegrams by airwaves to locations in Europe. During the 1920s, these two offices were essential in the work of American foreign correspondents who sent most of their news stories by telegram. They could send urgent news directly to the United States at the Central Telegraph Building. This type of communication was expensive. Alternatively, they could send their stories more cheaply by way of a telegram (via radio signal) to a central location in Europe, and that office transmitted the story to the U.S. By the 1930s, American journalists were often sending their news stories by telephone, a practice that became increasingly more popular as time passed. [Scheu 1972, p.21)
2011 Picture of the K.K. Telegrafen-Central (The Central Telegraph Building) on Wipplingerstrasse.

Café Louvre was a comfortable, but not grand, coffee house. Ken Cuthbertson, Gunther's biographer, described it like this: The interior was typical. It was spacious, with about forty marbletopped tables and violin-backed chairs in the center of the high-ceilinged room. Along one wall were booths, finished in dark brocades. Along another were a buffet of snacks and pastries and some rattan racks holding the day's newspapers.... [Cuthbertson 1992, p.108]
A picture of Cafe Louvre from Der

Before foreign journalists made Café Louvre Spiegel, January 29, 1968, p. 90. their place, it gained some fame as the meeting place for Viennese Zionists. It was at the Louvre that Theodore Herzl, the founder of the Zionist movement, came to an agreement in 1896 to start publishing the Welt newspaper, an organ of the Zionists. Also, for many months that year, the fledgling Zionist movement held monthly meetings at the café; the group moved 4

elsewhere when attendance grew too large for the space in the café. A copyrighted picture of an early Zionist meeting in 1896, held in a small alcove at the Café Louvre, can be found at this location: The Café Louvre's role as a meeting place for foreign journalists came about largely because Robert Best adopted the café as his work place. According to Scheu [1972 p.19], there was a legend in the early 30s that after Best had arrived in Vienna he had taken a seat at the Café Louvre in 1923 and from then on had never again stood up. According Cuthbertson, It was here that Bob Best presided at his Stammtisch, the reserved table that was his home away from home. No one would ever have bothered trying to contact him at his apartment or office; he could be found at the Café Louvre day or night." [Cuthbertson 1992, p.108] Best, a South Carolinian born in April 1896, earned BA and MA degrees from Wofford College, located near his hometown of Spartenburg. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War I. He got a journalism degree from Columbia University in 1922, and was awarded a Pulitzer Travelling Scholarship for ten months of study in Europe. He arrived in Vienna near the end of December, 1922, and settled there. [Edwards 1982, p.73-74] Best was hired as a stringer for United Press in May, 1923. Because he was paid per article, rather than receiving a salary, he constantly had financial difficulties. To supplement his income, he started a news service that provided journalists with daily information about events in the Balkans and Central Europe. Also, for $5 per day, he filled in for correspondents when they were traveling outside of Vienna or were on vacation. [Cuthbertson 1992, p.297] Scheu described Best's news service: One of the press services to which foreign journalist subscribed was "Amepress" operated by Laszlos Benes (a refugee from Hungary) and his wife, with the assistance of Robert Best. Journalists did not subscribe to this service mainly for the news it provided, but because Benes, his wife, Robert Best, or one of their representatives was at Café Louvre from morning to late night and they would contact journalists by phone if there was breaking news. Also, journalists would call them at Café Louvre if they were away from home and wanted to find out if anything important was happening. [Scheu 1972, p.21; my translation] Edwards [1982, p.75] painted a colorful picture of Best at work: Best cut a flamboyant figure at his reserved table in the Café Louvre. A broad-brimmed Stetson capped his 220-pound frame, and his high-laced shoes and wretched German were familiar to other habitués of Ringstrasse. While Café Louvre was a center for international news gathering during the day, at night it took on a different character. According to Cuthbertson, in the evenings it 5

became a family social center as well as place to exchange gossip and information. The number and types of guests at the Stammtisch were astonishing. He wrote: The coffee house took on a different atmosphere after dark, when it became a family social center. The married correspondents often brought their wives and children. Whit Burnett, who became a regular at the Café Louvre, recalled in his memoirs how at Bob Best's Stammtisch there was not a night that the regular table did not seat, along with the regulars, visiting playwrights, novelists, poets, short story writers, even spies." [Cuthbertson 1992, p.108] Also, Café Louvre frequently hosted foreign journalists who were passing through the city. According to Scheu [1972, p.26-27], every couple of days, famous journalists would show up at Café Louvre, including Charles Knickerbocker, Edgar Mowrer, Dorothy Thompson, and Fritz Kuh. An American journalist, Joseph Baird, who spent many nights at Café Louvre described some of the people he met there this way: [The fact-seeking visitor] would find there on any night, sipping coffee or brandy, a representative cross-section of Austrian, Hungarian, Czech, Bulgarian, Turkish, British, American, French and Russian diplomats and journalists. True, they dealt largely in the false currency of rumors. You heard all sorts of preposterous nonsense. Yet, from the welter of information and misinformation, the honest correspondent, by carefully checking, could gain more real facts that he could hope to gather from months of questioning European foreign ministers." [Baird 1942, p.2] Journalist Emlyn Williams, reminiscing in the Christian Science Monitor about his time in Vienna during the 1930s, wrote about the political refugees who came to the Café Louvre: Among regular visitors to the Café Louvre Stammtisch were political refugees from many countries -- Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Serb, Croad, and Bulgar. Some of them still retained their idealism. They hoped to find sympatric men of the press who would sponsor their causes. But most of these refugees had become disillusioned. They were looking for work of any sort. They had to exist. Some became regular informants for particular newspaper and agencies. They could quickly supply interpretative background to the latest reports from anywhere in their part of Europe. The correspondents naturally had to sift the chaff from the grain -- the real historical facts form the strongly biased propaganda. [Williams 1964, p. 2] Scheu, recalling the evenings at Café Louvre, wrote: "Best...sat in a padded loge, with a view of Renngasse, that was reserved for him." In addition to the foreign journalists in Vienna around him, Best also "assembled a large number of refugees, hangers on, news tipsters, spies -- serious, but questionable people, who sat at his 6

table and populated the surrounding tables at Café Louvre....People who came from abroad were astounded by what they saw at Café Louvre." [Scheu 1972, p.20] the Café Louvre Circle and the Anglo-American Press Association In 1930, the journalists representing American and British newspapers and press services did what most other groups in Austria do: they organized to form an association to further their interests. On June 24, 1930, the Anglo-American Press Association (AAPA) became a legal organization. According to Scheu, "The driving force behind the creation [of the Association] were, in addition to Best, M.W. Fodor, the correspondent of the Manchester Guardian, as well as G.E.R. Gedye, correspondent of the London Daily Telegraph and John Gunther a gigantic blond young American, who a few months after my entrance into the Café-Louvre Circle came to Vienna to represent the Chicago Daily News, a newspaper with interested in international issues." [Scheu 1972, p.23] As the creator and manager of the operational center of the Café Louvre Circle (those journalists who were regulars at Café Louvre), Robert Best was one of the leaders of the AAPA. The other journalist chiefly responsible for its creation was M.W. Fodor, who was at the intellectual center of the Circle. Fodor was the dean of foreign correspondents in Vienna, first reporting from Budapest and Vienna in 1919 for the Guardian. He stayed there, a correspondent for the Guardian and different American newspapers, until he had to flee the Nazis when they marched into Vienna on March 12 1938. Fodor was widely acknowledged as the man most knowledgeable about the history and current events of Central Europe and the Balkans. For a biographical sketch of Fodor, go to this link: Fodor was Hungarian by birth. Educated as an engineer, he worked at a steel mill in England before World War I. During the war, he was interned there as an enemy alien, then when the war ended he got a job as the Central Europe correspondent for the Manchester Guardian. Among his attributes were an expansive memory, analytical skills, and the ability to speak several European languages. Fodor was known as someone who freely shared his vast knowledge of the Central Europe and the Balkans. American journalist William Shirer wrote of him, "I have never known a man, and especially a journalist, who gave so much of himself and his knowledge to others." [Shirer 1985, p.21] Also, Fodor mentored younger foreign journalists in Vienna. For example, he helped Dorothy Thompson as she was beginning her meteoric rise as a international correspondent in the early 1920s. He was also a mentor to John Gunther during his years in Vienna.

M.W. Fodor in 1939

Fodor was a Café Louvre regular, usually joined by his wife, Martha. They spent many evenings at Best's table with colleagues and an assortment of visitors. A 7

jaundiced, but revealing, picture of Fodor was provided by Carl Flick-Steger, who had been the Central European correspondent for the Hearst Press and Universal News Service. Flick-Steger was a Nazi sympathizer. In the early part of World War II, he worked in press relations for the Germany army. Soon after that, he operated a pro-German radio station in Shanghai. While there in 1943, he wrote the following about a 1934 visit to Vienna: At the Café Louvre, Vienna's "Adlon Bar," I had a date that afternoon [in 1934] with one-eyed Bill Shirer, the Chicago Tribune's Vienna Correspondent. It was the customary Café Louvre afternoon séance with crystal-gazer Janos Fedor [sic] presiding. Others present were Gunther, Panton, and Gedye. Fedor [sic] was a clever analytically-minded Hungarian Jew, shaggy haired and with an austere air that at first glance commanded respect. When he parted his lips to speak, a hush came over his circle of followers, who absorbed his words as if coming from an oracle. Fedor [sic] is credited with having supplied most of the raw material for John Gunther's Inside Europe. [Flick-Steger 1943, pp.405-406] Among those who found their way to Café Louvre was 23-year-old J.W. Fulbright, who in the middle of 1928 had finished two years of study at Oxford University. After a summer tour of Europe, he decided to spend some months in Vienna. In a short while, he found the Café Louvre group and started joining in the conversations there. Though he was about fifteen years younger than Fodor, they became friends. Fodor invited Fulbright to join him on his annual reporting trip in Spring, 1929, to the Balkans, which he did; however Fulbright had to cut short the trip when he became ill. [Woods 1995, p.36] In a 1987 interview with Cuthbertson [1992, p.106], Fulbright recalled his time in Vienna and his visits to Café Louvre: You could find a group of journalists there most evening. I remember hearing Fodor hold forth, and he and I became friends. Fodor was a short stocky man with a mustache, and it was obvious that he was very intelligent; he spoke with great authority on an astounding range of subjects. Elsewhere, for one of his biographers, Fulbright described—with some exaggeration—the important role of Fodor at the coffee house: The correspondents would sit around there in the Café Louvre, 10 and 11 o'clock at night...and old Fodor would tell them what had happened that day. They'd talk to Fodor for over an hour, and they'd all write it down and then send it off at the telegraph office across the street. I remember people would come in there for The New York Times and other papers, big papers in the U.S. and have a long conversation with Fodor. About two weeks later, I'd read it all in The New York Times Magazine. [Johnson and Gwertzman 1968, pp.30-31


In the late 1920s and early1930s, Fodor reported from Vienna not only for the Guardian but also for the Philadelphia Inquirer and New York Daily News. From 1936 until he left Europe at the start of World War II, he was a correspondent for the Chicago Daily News. In addition to his newspaper reporting, Fodor wrote about political events in the region for several journals, including American Mercury, The Nation, and Harper's Magazine. He wrote two well-reviewed books in the last part of the 1930s, Plot and Counterplot (1937 and republished in 1939 with a few updates with the title South of Hitler) and The Revolution is On (1940). Another journalist instrumental in setting up the AAPA, George Eric Rowe Gedye, was not a regular at Café Louvre, but usually attended the lunches and meetings of the Association. [Reunion 1945, on-line] Gedye—who had been a British intelligence officer during World War I—started reporting from Vienna in 1927 for the Daily Express, a populist British paper. Later, in the 1930s, he was hired as a correspondent for the New York Times. In a 1945 article about Gedye's return to Vienna, Time magazine described him as follows: Oldtime Vienna correspondents knew sharp-featured George Eric Rowe Gedye (rhymes with steady) as a cool little Englishman, always reserved and distantly polite, who could write with startling passion of his love (Austria) and his hate (the Nazis).... As a Vienna correspondent, Gedye was a lone wolf. He steered clear of the Café Louvre, where...mutually admiring members of the Anglo-American press club...talked away the days over Kaffee mit Schlagobers, and pooled their findings. He drifted around the country, wrote excellent travel and history books on Austria. [Reunion 1945, on-line] Evidence of Gedye's passion for Vienna and dislike for the Nazis can be found in his book Betrayal in Central Europe (published in Britain as Fallen Bastions). The book is about major events in Austria from 1927 until his expulsion three days after the Anschluss. It is impressive not only for its fluid prose, but also his strong opinions and anger. The book includes a vivid and chilling account of the events he witnessed during the few days before and after the Germans invaded Austria on March 12, 1938. Although Gedye was not a Café Louvre regular, he did go there occasionally and in late 1933 and early 1934 he made the acquaintance of a Englishman—a recent Cambridge University graduate—who had often been sitting at Best's Stammtisch since his arrival in Vienna. Soon after a brief, but bloody, civil war in Austria ended in February 1934, this man made an urgent visit to Gedye's apartment. According to
G.E.R. Gedye (see Sources Cited for the link to this picture)


Gedye, he "demanded a suit of clothes to enable a wounded Socialist to get out of the country." When he saw that Gedye had seven suits in his closet, he insisted on getting six of them to help "wounded friends in the sewers in danger of the gallows." [Gedye 1939, p.104] Gedye described this episode in Betrayal in Central Europe. What Gedye did not know at the time he wrote this account was that this Englishman, Kim Philby, had been working as a courier for the Comintern underground in Vienna. His work in Vienna was his first assignment as a spy for the Soviet Union, and it started him on an infamous career in which he attained a high-level position in British intelligence while being a member of the "Cambridge Five" spy ring. [Cookridge 1968, p.88] The fourth person instrumental in the creation of the AAPA was John Gunther, who had arrived in Vienna only a few months before its creation. He quickly made his mark in Vienna as the correspondent for the Chicago Daily News. Also, he, more than any other journalist, documented the life of a foreign correspondent in Vienna during the first half of the 1930s. His book, The Lost City, is a roman á clef about a journalist (closely resembling Gunther) in Vienna in the early 1930s, his colleagues, and their work and lives. The book was completed in late 1937, but was not published then because, according to Cuthbertson [1992, p.264], lawyers who reviewed it thought it was libelous. The book was first published in 1964. Gunther's wife, Frances, also wrote a fictionalized account of an episode in an American journalist's life in Vienna. Her short story was published in 1937 in Story magazine. It is about a Christmas party given in Vienna by a foreign journalist and his wife (who closely resembled the Gunthers). The story introduced readers to the couple—who clearly had some conflicts—and to colleagues who attended the party. It highlighted some aspects of the uneasy personal lives of foreign journalists in Vienna at the time, and the tension among them John Gunther was an ambitious, energetic, enthusiastic, likeable, and highly social man. Though hired to report daily news, he—as he himself freely admitted—was not a hard news guy, but he excelled at writing feature stories with a human element. [Gunther 1962, p.4] He and his wife entertained often and had expensive tastes. To help pay for their lifestyle, Gunther regularly wrote free-lance stories for several popular magazines in the United States, including the Atlantic, The New Republic, Vanity Fair, and Harper's.. While in Vienna, Gunther worked closely with Fodor, whom he called a mentor. Together they broke some important news stories. One of their scoops came when they went together to
John and Frances Gunther in 1929, Just Before Their Arrival in Vienna

interview Hitler's remaining relatives in Austria. The stories they wrote based on those interviews did not please Hitler. In 1935, Gunther left Vienna to report from London. Soon after that, he started writing a book that provided an 10

overview of the leaders and politics of major European countries. He titled the 1936 book, Inside Europe, and it was quickly a best seller. In the following years, he wrote a series of "inside" books that made him one of the most famous journalists in the world. Aside from these four men who were instrumental in creating the AAPA, the founding members of the Association, according to Scheu [1972, p.24], included: John Banister Robert Berry Whit Burnett Heinrich Diez John MacCormac Hugo Neuman Friedrich Scheu William Shirer Pembroke Stephens Alfred Tyrnauer J. Emlyn Williams Daily Mail Associated Press New York Sun New York Herald Tribute New York Times The Times London's Daily Herald Chicago Tribune Daily Express International News Service Christian Science Monitor

Soon after the AAPA was founded, O.E. Warner soon replaced Robert Berry reporting for AP. In 1931, the following journalists were added as members L.H. Eisenmann Martha Foley Adolf Lippe Emil Maass Emil Vadnay Reuters Consolidated Press (U.S.) Exchange Telegraph press service Chicago Tribune New York Times

Among those who were most active in the AAPA and in the Café-Louvre Circle (in addition to Best, Fodor, and Gunther) were Alfred Tyrnauer (International News Service) and Emil Vadnay (New York Times), who came to Café Louvre almost every day. Tyrnauer was an Austrian citizen. Vadnay, according to Scheu [1972, p. 25, 26], was a "tall and broad shouldered" man born in Hungary; he had "a scar on his throat from an injury that occurred during World War I." The activities of the AAPA included a monthly meeting at which a visitor was invited to speak. The first meeting was held in August or September 1930, and they continued until the Anschluss. According to Scheu [1972, p. 25], speakers were often local political and governmental leaders. For example, Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss and Heimwehr leader Emil Fey spoke to the group. Other times speakers were local celebrities, such as composer Franz Lehár, or famous people passing through the city, such as Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, the founder of the panEurope movement, and William Bullitt, a famous American diplomat. Sometimes the members of AAPA united to assist members who were being mistreated by the Austria government. For example, Gedye mentions in his book, Betrayal in Central Europe, that in 1934 the Austrian government, displeased 11

with his reporting, continually denied him access to the Austrian Radio studio facilities he needed to participate in BBC discussions. In response, AAPA members decided that all of them would boycott participating in radio shows as long as Gedye was unable to participate. The boycott got the desired results, with Gedye permitted to use the studio. Probably the most important feature of the AAPA and the Café Louvre Circle was an informal information-sharing agreement that helped the Anglo-American journalists report all of the important news coming from the region. According to Scheu [1972, p 21], this agreement established a kind of "cartel," and this cartel was created without their boss's knowledge. Scheu wrote, "At Café Louvre, the guiding principle was that one must share news with his colleagues. That meant that none of us was in danger of not knowing important news that a colleague had uncovered." As Scheu explained, correspondents agreed that any journalist who had an "exclusive" story would have about an hour's advantage in reporting it. That way, his or her newspaper had be able to run the story before its competitors. After an hour, the owner of the "exclusive story" called Café Louvre. There a press service person would take the news and pass it on by telephone to all of the others who were part of the agreement. [Scheu 1972, p.22] The Last Days of the Austria: A Small Drama at Café Louvre The events of February and March 1938 were momentous and tragic for Austria. Hitler was making demands for a union of Germany and Austria, and Austrian Nazis, whose ranks were growing daily, were supporting these demands. The world watched as the tensions rose, and the number of reporters in the city increased as journalists came to Vienna from other locations to report on unfolding events. Café Louvre was still the meeting place of Anglo-American journalists, and rumors flowed there about what was about to happen. William Shirer, who had reported from Vienna in the early thirties, was back in the city to cover developments for CBS news. He wrote in his diary about the dramatic events of March 11th, 1938, the day Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg resigned and the day before the Germans troops entered Austria. That day, Shirer had returned to Vienna from a trip to Ljubljana, arriving at 8 am. He went immediately to the Schwarzenberg Café, where he met with Fodor and Ed Taylor of the Chicago Tribute to catch up on what had been happening. After running around the city all day to witness what was happening, he heard an 12
German Soldiers Entering Austria, August 12, 1938

announcement that a new Austrian government was being formed with Arthur Seyss-Inquart at its head. Shirer headed to Radio Austria (RAVAG) to send a telegram to update his news story, stopping at Café Louvre on the way. He described the events there as follows: Bob Best of United Press...was dispensing the latest rumors. Martha Fodor, the beautiful Slovak Martha, was fighting to keep back the tears. This was the end of her world. Fodor was not here. He had gone home to try to telephone his story to London. John Wiley, she said, had already called saying he was going to take them in the morning to Bratislava, across the nearby frontier in Slovakia. So Fodor and his lovely wife would be safe. My former assistant when I was the correspondent at the Chicago Tribute in Vienna, one Emil Maass, swaggered in. He had been a rather mousey man when he worked for me, a little retarded for his thirty years. He was half American and half Austrian, and had two passports. He came up to Best's table, where I was sitting with Martha and Major Goldschmidt, the monarchist leader, and two or three others. "Well, meine Damen and Herren," he smirked, "it is about time." He turned over his coat lapel, unpinned his hidden swastika party button, and ostentatiously pinned it on the outside over the buttonhole. Martha shrieked, "shame" at him.... ... Major Goldschmidt, whom I had taken a liking to, though he was head of a monarchist group working for the restoration of the Hapsburgs—a forlorn cause—rose quietly from the table. He had had a Jewish father, but was a practicing Catholic. Hitler, I thought would never forgive him either for his racial mixture or his politics... The major stood at the table for a moment. "Thank you for your friendship," he said quietly, "even if you didn't like what I was up to." He shook the hands of each of us around the table. "You will please excuse me," he said. "I shall go home now and get my revolver." (That night he shot and killed himself.) [Shirer 1985, pp.294-300] The End of the Café Louvre After the Germans marched into Austria, many of the regulars at Café Louvre left Vienna. On March 12th, Fodor and his family, assisted by the American counsel, fled by car to Bratislava. Scheu, an Austrian, departed about the same time. Gedye was kicked out by the new Nazi government a few days after the Anschluss. Alfred 13

Tyrnauer of International News Service, an Austrian, was briefly jailed, as were other Austrian journalists who worked for American or British newspapers. [Nazis 1938, p.8] Other stayed on to report on events in Vienna, leaving the city as their work was increasingly restricted. Among those who stayed was Robert Best, who kept his place at the Café Louvre until the Nazi government closed it in 1940. In fact, Best did not return to the United States until 1946 when he was transported as a prisoner to face trial for treason. Best, following the Anschluss, had continued reporting for United Press until 1941, when he was fired for "non-performance." After Germany declared war on the U.S., he was incarcerated along with other Americans who were on German soil. He was scheduled to return to the U.S. in 1942 as part of an exchange of enemy aliens by Germany and the US. However, he refused to go. Instead, he volunteered to be a propagandist for the Germans, making more than 300 broadcasts to the U.S. by radio. [Edwards 1982; Cuthbertson 1992, p. 297] Shirer, who had broken the story of Best's broadcasts in 1942 and who was subpoenaed to testify at his trial in 1948, was deeply puzzled by his behavior—as were others who had been Best's friends at Café Louvre. According to Shirer [1952, p.54], Best "was well liked by other correspondents, for whom he was never too busy to do a good turn." He believed that Best's problem was that he never returned—even for a short visit—to the U.S. after arriving leaving it in 1922, losing his attachment to the country.

Robert Best in 1946 after his arrest for treason

Shirer [1952, pp. 54-55] wrote about Best: Sometime after the Nazis came to Austria, he got the Nazi bug, and when the war came and we got into it, he elected to stay behind to broadcast Hitler's propaganda against his own land. In going Nazi he also went violently anti-Semitic, which surprised his old colleagues, who knew that during most of his long stay in Vienna his closest friend had been a Jew and who could not recall Best ever having uttered a word against a Jew as a Jew. When he went on the air in Berlin for Hitler, however, he tried to outdo his master in his ranting against the Jews. 14

Shirer wrote a novel called The Traitor (1950) in which the main characters were journalists resembling Shirer and Best. Best was convicted of treason in 1948 and sentenced to life in prison. His appeal was rejected by a Federal District Court in 1950. He appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 1951 refused to hear it. He died, while a prisoner, in December 1952. [Edwards 1982] Meanwhile, in late summer 1948, Gunther traveled to postWar Vienna, finding it in lamentable condition. When he went to re-visit Café Louvre, where he had spent so many enjoyable hours, he found that the building that had housed the café had been destroyed by a bomb. The structure had been rebuilt, and a bank now occupied the space where Café Louvre had been [Cuthbertson, 1992, p. 302]. A couple of years later, Shirer [1952, p. 55] also went back to Vienna, going "one warm afternoon" to find Café Louvre. Like Gunther, he instead found a bank in its old location. Another journalist, William Stoneman, who had worked in Vienna during the 1930s, returned in to Vienna 1953, writing, "The Café Louvre—hangout of newspapermen in the thirties—seems to have gone with the wind." [Stoneman

1953, p.1]

Today, the site where Café Louvre was located houses an upscale furniture store selling couches, chairs, tables, and other furniture designed in Paris.

Corner of Wipplingerstrasse and Renngasse, April 2011


Sources Cited: Alcalay, David. 1922. Warum Gingen Wir Zum Ersten Zionistenkongress. Judisher Verlag (Berlin). Free e-book accessible at this link: n.html?id=R2BFAAAAYAAJ Baird, Joseph H. 1942. Wine, Diplomats and News. The Sunday Morning Star [Wilmington, Delaware], May 10, p. 2. (Accessed through Google newspapers) Björkman-Goldsmith, Else. 2007. Es Geschah in Wien: Erinnerungen. Böhlen. Cookridge, E. H. 1968. Mission im Hauptquartier. Der Spiegel, Nr. 5, Jan 29th pp. 88-98. Accessed at Cuthbertson, Ken. 1992. Inside: The Biography of John Gunther. 1992. Bonus Books. Edwards, John Carver. 1982. Bob Best Considered: An Expatriate's Long Road to Treason. North Dakota Quarterly, 50(1), Winter, pp. 73-90. Fischer, Louis. 1946. Men and Politics: An Autobiography. Duell, Sloan and Pearce. Flick-Steger, Carl. 1943. The Adlon Bar Gang. XXth Century (Shanghai), vol. V, Dec. pp, 398-407. Accessed at Fodor, M.W. 1937. Plot and Counterplot in Central Europe. Houghton Mifflin. -----. 1939 South of Hitler. Houghton Mifflin. -----. 1940. The Revolution is On. Houghton Mifflin. Gunther, John. 1935. Dateline Vienna. Harper's Magazine. July, pp. 198-208. -----. 1936. Inside Europe. Harpers. ------.1962. A Fragment of Autobiography: The Fun of Writing the Inside Books. Harper & Row. -----. 1964. The Lost City. Harper & Row. Gunther, Frances. 1937. Another Year. Story, Vol. X, no. 54, January, pp. 74-85. Johnson, Haynes and Bernard Gwertzman, 1968. Fulbright: The Dissenter. Doubleday.


Nazis in Vienna Hold 3 Newspaper Men. 1938. New York Times, March 17, p. 8. Nittenberg, Joanna; Anton Pelinka; and Robert Wistrich. 1997. Wandlungen und Brueche: Von Herzls "Welt" zu "Illustrierten Neuen Welt," 1897 to 1997. Edition INW. Reunion in Vienna. 1945. Time, September 10. Accessed at,9171,776091,00.html Scheu, Friedrich. 1972. Der Weg im Ungewisse: Osterreichs Schicksalskurve 1929-1938. Verlag Fritz Molden. Shirer, William. 1941. Berlin Diary. Knopf. ------. 1951. The Traitor. Popular Library. -----. 1952. Midcentury Journey. Farrar, Straus, and Young. -----. 1984. 20th Century Journey: The Nightmare Years, 1930-1940. Little, Brown. -----. 1985. 20th Century Journey: The Start, 1904-1930. Bantam. Stoneman, William. 1953. Glamorous Vienna Still Beauty Queen of Central Europe. Toledo Blade, July 12,p. 1 (Accessed through Google newspapers) Williams, J. Emlyn. 1964. Vienna Between Two wars. Christian Science Monitor, Sept 23, p. 1,2 (Accessed through Google newspapers) Woods, Randall. 1995. Fulbright: A Biography. Cambridge University Press. Links to pictures: Picture of Cafe Imperial (p.3) Gedye's picture (p. 9) German entry into Austria, March 12, 1938 (p. 12)