Friday, 10 May 2013

One Day In Vienna

History loves coincidences and in one of these, there was one day in Vienna in 1913 when one mans diary could have been the most dramatic in history - what a great story it could have been. Imagine if you will, a man with money and time on his hands, who moved in the correct circles, and was a habitué of the Cafe's and Salons of the oldest imperial capital in Europe.

Old Vienna 1913 - Capital of the Hapsburg Empire

After getting up and bathing he leaves his town house and decides to walk into the city centre, and as it's fine day, a lunch in a street Café in the industrial sector, which is on his way in to the town. He chooses a simple hearty midday meal of Gulasch and Semmelknödel, followed by Liptauer, he chats with the the local foundry and sheet metal workers. One of whom, a young man, introduces himself as 'Josip Broz' (history later came to know him as the Yugoslavia dictator, Marshall Tito. He would later also come know Stalin well, but not yet).

Leaving the street Café, he drops in to a Beer Keller where he knows that Russian political radicals gather .... he enjoys listening to their wild ideas, especially one called 'Marxism', which is hotly debated, and he quickly falls into the discussions by the simple ruse of standing a round of beers (these Russian émigrés are always broke) .... he listens as the one known only by his code name of 'Stalin', and 'Nikolay Bukharin', discuss their treatise 'Marxism and the National Question'.

But getting bored by the endless political polemics, he moves on to a coffee house, bumping into another of these radicals, the far more intellectual 'Leon Trotsky', Marxist theorist, and editor of the 'Russian' newspaper 'Pravda'. All the while, unable to guess that 'Stalin' would later order the deaths of both of the other men.

Then boring of that particular paranoia , our imaginary diarist leaves the Coffee house and moves on to a regular 'artists salon', hosted by a rich Viennese Jewish matron, who is trying to break through into imperial social circles, and whom is surrounded by the up and coming, or struggling artists of the old quarter .... amongst these is a young man called 'Adolf Hitler', a landscape painter who has failed to get the commissions he feels he deserves. His bitter rants against those who fail to notice his manifest destiny, bore the diarist (he would also know about Stalin and Broz, but not until two wars later).

 ...... Finally moving on from the artists salon, he goes to a late night Café, where he meets up with a friend to  share a few glasses of schnapps. He discusses the meetings of the day with the friend, who is called  'Sigmund Freud', maybe they discuss the motivations of the men he had bumped into earlier that day ...

.... all the while never guessing that our diarist had just met men would shape the lives of hundreds of millions of people, and change the world forever ..... that he had spent the day with some of the movers and shakers of Europe for the next century.

A fantasy? Perhaps, but perfectly possible, as in 1913, all these men were in Vienna for at least one month. 


  1. Great 20-20 hindsight. Is that where they all got the idea to wear mustaches as well?

    How many psychotherapists does it take to change a light-bulb?

    A : Father, er mother, no, sex, I mean six.

    1. Who knows, if you lived in Paris in the 1970s, or maybe London in the 1960's, you may well have bumped into several people who later went on to rule differing regimes. You can spot them because of their hatred of the West.


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