30 December 1946
SUBJECT: Weekly Report

TO: All Officers of this Detachment

1. The weekly reports which have been submitted for the past several weeks have been, for the most part, unsatisfactory. In most cases it is evident that very little time or effort has been expended in preparing the reports, resulting in lack of clarity of expression and continuity of thought. A number of reports have obviously been prepared by indigenous personnel, in violation of several applicable regulations.

2. These reports of the various sections are the basis of the report which the Military Government Area Commander sends to the Commanding General, US Forces Austria. It is desired that each Officer reports upon the activity of his Section and/or upon the activities of the Austrian government under his supervision, and also any aid or assistance rendered to US Military Units.

3. Reports need not be lengthy, but they should be clear and to the point. "Negative" or "No Change" reports will not be submitted.

4. Reports will be submitted in duplicate by each Officer and will be in the message center prior to 18oo hours each Monday.

5. When Officers are reporting on more than one topic, separate reports will be made for each. Reports will be numbered in accordance with the paragraphs as listed below:
1. Agriculture ............................................. Lt. Porter
2. Forestry ................................................. Lt. Porter
3. Civil Administration ................................. Major French
4. De-Nazification ....................................... Capt. Tyson
5. Food ..................................................... Lt Porter
6. Supply ................................................... Capt. Edwards
7. Communication ...................................... Lt. Fitzpatrick
8. Commerce and Industry .......................... Lt. Fitzpatrick
9. Ecclesiastical Affairs ................................. Lt. Fitzpatrick 
10. Education ............................................. Capt. Stein
11. Monuments ......................................... Capt. Stein
12. Finance ............................................... Capt. Stein
13. Labor .................................................. Capt. Tyson
14. Legal  ................................................. Major French
15. Political Situation .................................. Major French
16. Property Control ................................... Capt. Tyson
17. Public Health ........................................ Capt. Tyson
18. Public Safety ........................................ Lt. Pinckney
19. Public Works ........................................ Lt. Pinckney
20. Transportation ...................................... Capt. Edwards
21. Housing ............................................... Lt. Porter


Lt. Col. Inf.
"Make any sense to you?" asked Major French as I put the sheets back on his desk.

"Yes, sir, I guess you want me to help with your reports."

He looked amused. "You can always tell a Harvard man, but you can't tell him much. Isn't that what they say? Sit down a minute."

I sat down on the hard wooden chair in front of the desk; the Major stood up, walked to one of the big double windows and looked down into the Residenzplatz, where army trucks equipped with snowplows were noisily removing the drifts which had accumulated during the night. The fire-blackened walls of the Cathedral, forming the right side of the Platz, were covered with scaffolding: its dome, destroyed by a stray American bomb, was being rebuilt. Above the twin towers of the Cathedral, high above the town, loomed the Festung Hohensalzburg -massive, enormous, a complex of walls and battlements and towers gray against the sky, the storybook castle of everybody's childhood dreams, visible from miles away in every direction, the symbol of Salzburg.

"Know anything about this town?"

"No, sir."

"Got a girl here?"

"No, sir."

He turned around. "No Fräulein? You must be the only boy in the whole command--"

"Well, I've-ah-been with some girls, sir, but we were out there in the Kasernen, had to have a pass every time-"

"Not much opportunity to maneuver, I suppose. All right, things will be different here in town, and I want to give you sort of an orientation lecture before you learn to see everything through the eyes of some young lady -or her family. The Military Government is a sensitive spot. We're sort of in the middle between the army and the people, and you'll do your job better if you have some background about this place and what is going on here."

Major French unbuttoned his Eisenhower jacket and drew a fresh pack of Lucky Strikes from his pocket. "First of all, a history lesson." He lit a cigarette. "It looks bedraggled right now, but it's one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Used to be an independent country, down to Napoleon's time. Belonged to the Archbishops, very powerful fellas, Electors of the Empire, controlled everything from the Danube to the mountains. Had their own armies and their own treasury. The money came from the salt mines out in the Salzkammergut. Salt was worth a lot of money in those days. Once in a while an archbishop would lose a campaign or his people would revolt and then he'd hole up in that fortress up there, but most of the time they ran the show. Very firmly. And they changed the face of this town. Without them -especially Wolf Dietrich and Fyrmian and Paris Lodron- this would have stayed just another central European town -all the houses crammed together, huddled between the river and the fortress for protection, pointed roofs, narrow dirty little alleys. . . . Well, these Archbishops, they'd been to Italy, they'd been to Rome, they wanted something like a beautiful Italian town this side of the mountains, so they chopped some big squares right through the middle of the old town -like the Residenzplatz out there- and they brought architects from Italy, from Vienna, from all over, to build the Cathedral and lots of other churches. . . "

Why is he telling me all this?

"They didn't just build churches, either. They didn't worry too much about priestly celibacy, those fellas; they had mistresses and bastard children and weren't a bit ashamed of them, built palaces for them, in fact. Schloss Mirabell, Schloss Fyrmian, Schloss Hellbrunn, Schloss Leopoldskron, each one with its own park . . ."

(photographs of Leopoldskron taken in pre-war years and some excerpts of the biography of Max Reinhardt and his widow, Helene Thimig, the owner of Leopoldskron at this time, 1947)

He wants somebody to talk to, I thought. He's fallen in love with this town and he wants to share it with somebody.

He told me how Salzburg was absorbed into the Austrian empire, how it became just another dull provincial capital, how the rediscovery of Mozart put it back on the map.

"After the end of the World War -the First War- some people from Vienna organized the Festivals, using Mozart's music as the nucleus, Hofmannsthal wrote that morality play they perform on the Cathedral steps, Max Reinhardt put on all kinds of plays and operas, and Toscanini -well anyway, this place became a cultural boom town, at least for a month every summer, artists and musicians and visitors poured in from all over the world, and what with the lakes and mountains all around, they had a red-hot tourist industry going here."

"And then the Nazis came," said I.

"And then the Nazis came," repeated Major French. "Now we're getting down to the present situation, and the reason why I'm giving you this lecture. The official line today is that Hitler invaded Austria, that Austria was a conquered country just like Norway or Holland. That's a convenient way to remember it, convenient for us and for the Austrians, but it isn't true. See that square out there, the Residenzplatz? The day the Germans marched in, that square was packed -packed- with people screaming 'Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!' Thousands and thousands of 'em. in the Domplatz and the Residenzplatz and the Mozartplatz. I've seen photographs."

He put his hands on the windowsill and paused for a moment, staring down at the trucks grinding slowly around the empty white expanse.

"They wanted to be German, they wanted to play the game, and they played it. They played it with the best of them, to Paris and to Oslo and to Stalingrad, and back again. Wehrmacht (infantry), Luftwaffe (air force), SS (Schutzstaffel), Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei, secret police) -everything. And now they want to pretend it never happened. They didn't do anything. The Germans made them do it." He turned around and looked at me. "You were too young for the war, I assume, but you've read about the camps?"

I nodded.

"Well, it's true. It's all true, and don't let anybody tell you it isn't. Saw it with my own eyes. Dachau. Mauthausen. Bodies stacked like cordwood. Walking skeletons. Indescribable. And it wasn't only in the camps. Right here in this town, right around the corner, in fact, in a cellar, they tied a man in a chair and then they brought in the man's fifteen-year-old boy, and they beat the boy to death with truncheons, and they made the man watch. Then they let the man go. That's a true story."

Major French stopped and took a deep breath. "All right, that's enough about that sort of thing, I'm only telling you these stories to counterbalance what you're going to see and hear this winter. You're seeing the consequences of all that went before. They're pretty rough. What have we got here today, Salzburg today? What we've got here is an island. Think of it as an island, in the middle of Europe, pretty far from the battlefronts until the very end. some bomb damage but not much, a long way for our planes to fly and not much worth bombing when they got here. On this island we have first of all the natives, the old Salzburgers, the townspeople, tradesmen, doctors, lawyers, the provincial administration, the Landeshauptmann, the city government, the police forces, lots of priests and nuns because the old Church influence is still strong, two hundred churches or something like that, churches and monasteries, there's still an Archbishop of course, and out in the country are the peasants, right here in what they call the Flachgau, the flatlands, down around the lakes and the villages in the Salzkammergut -St. Gilgen, St. Wolfgang- and all the way up the river into the mountains, the Pinzgau and the Hohe Tauern. We don't have trouble with the peasants, except of course they try to hide their butter and eggs, try to sell them on the black market.

"Then we've got thousands of Germans, Volksdeutsche they call themselves, who were thrown out of their homes by the Czechs and the Poles and the Russians and the Hungarians; this was in East Prussia and Silesia and parts of Poland and Hungary, the Banat, the Sudetenland and I forget where all else. They all have terrible atrocity stories they want to tell every American who'll listen. Most of them have been quartered with the natives, every town house and every farm has some strange families forced into it. Of course they drive each other crazy and fight like the devil and come running to the Military Government with all kinds of complaints and denunciations. The ones who can't be squeezed into private homes have to live in camps, like the Displaced Persons -which they are, actually."

The Major stopped to light another cigarette. "Well, you already know something about the DPs -the most pathetic of the bunch and the most trouble for us- all the people the Nazis dragged away from their homes, concentration camp inmates and slave workers in their factories: Jews, of course, and Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Poles, Czechs, Yugoslavs, Russians, Ukrainians, Roumanians, Hungarians -people who either can't go home or don't want to go home and are just stuck in limbo here. They hope someday they'll be allowed into the States or Canada or South America, or Palestine, in the case of the Jews- but in the meantime they're rotting in the UNRRA camps out in the suburbs, going to pot and getting into trouble. Well, you saw a little bit of it the other day."

My foot was asleep.

Major French was a lawyer. I recognized that certain ring, that organized ticking off the items for discussion, that fondness for choosing the right word. A lawyer pushing sixty who must have left a nice practice, or even a judgeship -why wasn't he home?

"All right, the last wave on the island: that's us." Hands in his pockets, cigarette dangling from his lips, he began to pace again. "Third and Seventh Armies down across Bavaria, pushing the Germans up into the mountains, the Fifth came up the other way, from Italy. Everything ended in these mountains; they never organized their Alpine Redoubt, we came too fast for that, captured hundreds of thousands of men, they had to be sorted out -Germans, Austrians, Wehrmacht, SS, Nazi bigshots of all kinds, foreign units like the Vlassov Russians- interrogation, classification, trying to sift out people who committed specific crimes -a big job, but now we've got the Gestapo and the SD (Security Police, intelligence and counterintelligence agency of the Nazi Party). and the SS and the other special bastards, those we could find, locked up in special camps, the ordinary POWs are out on the street . . . meantime, here we are, the Army of Occupation. Still a big garrison -too big for my money: the line troops, you guys in the Twenty-seventh, other units that are mostly going back to Germany, Constabulary in the mountains, MPs (military police) to keep the others in order, the Quartermaster outfits to keep everybody fed, Engineers to keep the roads open, maintain the pontoon bridges across the Inn and the Salzach, Signal Corps to keep the telephones operating, the medics, the PX (Post eXchange, US Army base retail store) people and the motor pool people -well, an awful lot of people.

"All right, we're the Military Government. What do we do? We used to run the whole damn town, the whole Land Salzburg, but we don't any more. Kicked out the Nazis, found enough reliable people, Austrians who were clean, put them into various administrative jobs: Landeshauptmann (head of the provincial government), Bürgermeister (mayor), all the different police forces, Grenzpolizei at the border, Gendarmerie out in the country, city police around the corner at the Polizeidirektion, the Kriminalpolizei, and so forth and so on. The thing runs itself pretty well now, we're gradually building up a new civil administration that can run the country when the occupation ends."

Major French walked around behind his desk put the butt of his cigarette in the porcelain ashtray, and sat back in the leather swivel chair. "Well, what do we do? As you see in that rather irritable order from the Colonel, we are supposed to oversee all these different branches, such as the Denazification Program-- well, I won't even go into that mare's nest with you. Anyway, our section, my section is responsible for the Military Government courts here. We have jurisdiction over Austrians who violated MG (Military Government) regulations, and all DPs. As a practical matter, this means mostly border crossing, weapons violations of some kind -the DPs have been known to shoot up lonely farms- and black marketing. We've also got a General Court that handles war crimes cases, mostly Nazi policemen who shot our airmen after they had to bail out over these mountains, but those cases are handled by specialists. I'm supposed to run the section and sit as a judge for the run-of-the-mill cases, and Lieutenant Pinckney is supposed to prosecute. He's also the Public Safety Officer, which means that he has to supervise all the different Austrian police forces. So we've both got our hands full, and now they want us to write our own reports on top of it." He paused. "Well, we don't have time to write reports. That's going to be your job. I've cleared it with Colonel Slattery."

There was a knock at the door, and the Major's secretary put her head in. "I'm sorry, sir, Regierungsrat Doktor Schuster has been waiting--"

"Oh Lord, I forgot." He glanced at his wristwatch and buttoned his jacket. "All right, son, I've spent much too much time with you, I guess I got carried away. You'll live at the Villa Redl with Pinckney. Don't hang around with other enlisted men too much, you're working in a special area. You stick close to me and to Pinckney, keep track of what we're doing, do whatever else we tell you. First thing every Monday have a report ready for me, and another one for him. After we okay them, have them typed and file them at the message center. All right, out you go. Fräulein Rittmeister, call a car from the motor pool and have them take the Corporal and his stuff to the Villa Redl."

A soldier's dream. And yet, at first, I was dislocated and lonely. I had become accustomed to the steamy tight-packed infantry life, where you rose in the morning and went to bed at night to the sound of whistles and loudspeakers and bugle calls, always surrounded by cursing, wrestling, groaning, belching, arguing, snoring, card-playing men, floating along without a thought, automatically obeying simple orders, where the very noise and lack of privacy turned you inside yourself, where there was nothing to do but read paperback novels or watch others shoot dice or sit in great gangs at the smoke-filled NCO (Noncommissioned Officer's) clubs, drinking beer and dancing with bedraggled girls whose ribs you could feel through their dresses and who might later make love, fully dressed, on a couch in a freezing tenement room, with another couple on the floor and a baby watching from the crib.

Now I lived in a villa across the street from the Mirabell Gardens. I slept between linen sheets in an enormous brass bed, covered by a cloud of an eiderdown coverlet constructed like an oversize pillow. There was a Persian rug, a leather armchair, a Telefunken radio-phonograph, and a case full of German books and records. The faded yellow wallpaper was hung with dainty watercolors of Salzburg scenes. Next door was a big oldfashioned bathroom with a wooden floor, a marble washstand, and a chain-pull toilet. On the plaster wall above the four-clawed enamel bathtub hung a hand-painted sign, barely legible beneath the obscene annotations of previous bathers:

Amerikan Soldiers!
Please treat this Haus like your
own Haus in Amerika. Thank you!
Welcome to Beautiful Austria.
Familie Redl

The Austrian driver from the Military Government motor pool, carrying my duffel bag, had followed the little white-jacketed houseman up the carpeted stairs to the second floor, and I, still in my long infantry greatcoat, came up behind them. At the landing I turned around just in time to look into an open door at the other end of the hall. A honey-haired young woman, dressed only in tight green army fatigue trousers and a white brassiere was regarding me disdainfully through the smoke of the cigarette in her mouth. She let me get a good look and then slammed the door.

"Who was that?" I asked the Hausmeister (houseman) as he showed me into my room.

"That was Fräulein Paulsen, from the Landestheater. Fräulein Paulsen is the fiancee of Oberleutnant Pinckney. I will bring your lunch on a tray."

Pinckney himself turned up, knocking on the door, just as I was finishing my coffee, a very tall and skinny young officer; a blond crew cut, friendly blue eyes and a quiet Carolina voice. All knees and elbows, he draped himself comfortably into the leather club chair in the corner.

"Did Major French give you his lecture on the history of Salzburg?"

"Yes, sir."

"Okay, well don't worry, I'm not about to give you another. Just a few let's call 'em housekeeping hints, since we are apparently going to share the Villa Redl for a while."

There was another knock at the door, and the houseman entered with a coffee tray. He filled a cup and brought it to Pinckney, refilled my cup, and silently withdrew, closing the door behind him.

"Little different from the Kasernen, eh?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, that's really what I came in to tell you. We've tried a couple of enlisted men in this job before, and they couldn't take it. Couldn't take the freedom, the lack of supervision -and the temptations. Now you got picked because I couldn't go on that raid, the Major himself went in my place, and he was impressed with you. And then we got this goddamn order about weekly reports, so that's your job. Now all you have to do is stay out of trouble. Do not sell your cigarette ration. Do not show up drunk in the street and have yourself arrested by the MPs. Do not give parties during which naked girls get thrown out of windows of this house -don't laugh it really happened, and both French and I had to go over and look like horse's asses at the Provost Marshal's office. We've decided we can get along fine without any enlisted men in our branch, but the Major thinks maybe you'll be different. Is that clear?"

"Yes, sir."

Lieutenant Pinckney drank some coffee. "All right, meals: Heinie, the Hausmeister, is also the cook. His wife cleans the place and waits on the table. Breakfast is at oh -seven-thirty, lunch at twelve-thirty, dinner at eighteen hundred hours. If you don't want to come back here because you're on the road or want to eat over in the old town, at the Red Cross or the NCO club, just call up." He stood up and put his cup back on the tray. "I hear you already saw Miss Paulsen. She's here sometimes for meals, and if she is, I eat in my room. If you have a guest, you eat in your room. Clear?"

'Yes, sir." I stood up too.

"All right, let me get my coat and we'll run out to the border control point and see what the Grenzpolizei are up to this afternoon."

In the beginning, I felt like a newspaper reporter, assigned to cover the activities of Major French and Lieutenant Pinckney. I would watch the trials in court or accompany Pinckney on his inspection trips, and then return to my little cubicle in the Residenz, where I would tap out my reports on a battered German typewriter. On Monday mornings I would put all the reports together, have one of the girls retype them, and submit them to French and Pinckney. After the second week they signed without reading them. By that time I had my own car, a captured Opel Kadett, so that I could make inspections of the rural police stations, and before long the commanders in these outlying villages found it easier to call me directly if they had any problems.

It was terribly cold now.

In eastern Austria, the Russian armies were living off the land, and so were the French in the Tyrol. In the British and American zones between them the UNRRA and other agencies tried desperately to ward off general starvation. Six feet of snow lay in the high passes. For lack of coal the passenger trains were canceled, the electricity often went off at sunset, and the Landestheater was closed. Nella Paulsen spent every evening at the Villa Redl. The newspapers printed pathetic letters from women whose husbands were still prisoners in Russia, whose children were hungry, and who had no home and no hope for the future. Almost every week, counterintelligence agents roared into some mountain village to pick up a concealed Nazi leader whose hideaway had been betrayed by his neighbors. At the cabaret Oase, detectives of the Kriminalpolizei and the American Criminal Investigation Division arrested two Ukrainian DPs and a sergeant from the field hospital who had just sold them twelve ampules of penicillin. The schools were closed because there was no coal to heat them. Hordes of children followed American soldiers in the streets, begging for chocolate and fighting over every tossed cigarette butt. The Gendarmerie at Kufstein captured a band of heavily armed men from a DP camp in Salzburg. Sometimes, without warning, a warm, damp wind called the Föhn came blowing up through the passes from Italy, turning the snow to freezing slush.

I wrote reports and tried to answer questions over the telephone and watched Pinckney try cases and bounced through the rain-splattered cobblestoned darkness in police jeeps crammed with wet uniforms and loaded carbines: raids again on the DP camps; raids on big prosperous farms out in the Flachgau, chickens shrieking across the muddy courtyards, cows bellowing in their stalls, manure and straw and pails kicked across the floor, milkmaids shouting angrily, up the wooden ladders to the highest floors under the shingles, tubs of hoarded butter and bags of flour and crestfallen looks from the farmers; raids on smoky cellar nightclubs, screams and flashlight beams and sullen quarrelsome searches and the boxes of cigarettes and Nescafe' and nylon stockings and cans of Spam and corned beef, the girls then trucked off to the hospital and well-attended venereal examinations; worst of all, the occasional MP raids, clattering up a tenement stairwell in the middle of the night, breaking down a door to find a terrified couple in bed, a blowsy woman and a drunken befuddled AWOL (Absent Without Official Leave) from the old Twenty-seventh, and the woman would wail and the children would begin to scream and the soldier would silently get dressed and we would have to take him to the stockade; and sometimes in the black hours before dawn, when I hung up my helmet liner and my dripping parka and my heavy forty-five, I could hear the creaking of bedsprings, and Nella Paulsen moaning in the darkness.

previous chapter, next chapter



1961 - A Point of View
[1] The annual meeting of the stockholders of the Boatwright Corporation
[2] What are you going to do about Boatwright and what are you going to do about yourself?
[3] Have we learned anything this evening, Doctor?
[4] Producing results?
[5] Alexander's Feast
[6] How'd you like to go over to Salzburg for a month with me?

1947 - An Island
[7] You're not going to Berlin. You're staying here.
>[8] All right, we're the Military Government.
[9] The Americans are teaching us to be democratic instead of fascistic.
[10] Well, this is Fasching.
[11] Letters after Ash Wednesday
[12] Say Boris is at Schloss Fyrmian.
[13] THE AMERICAN ACADEMY IN EUROPE - Prospectus for the First Session
[14] Learn to think of people as individuals.
[15] Parlez-moi d'amour, redites-moi des choses tendres.
[16] Not one thing left to show that you've ever been on earth? - "Sources of Soviet Conduct"
[17] A Countess, a Prussian Officer and a Ländler
[18] Now this part of your life is over and I'm sending you home.
[19] A father who's too busy to watch his son die. - The Spring of 1961
[20] I cannot sell Schloss Fyrmian to the Academy.

1961 - A Change of Air
[21] The first thing I saw was the Festung Hohensalzburg far in the distance, silhouetted against the shadowy curtain of the high mountains.
[22] Next day at the Academy we got to work - Graham, you know what Fleischer did?
[23] Im weißen Rößl am Wolfgangsee
[24] Brockaw writing a thesis on Austrian baroque architecture? - Boatwright Corporation and Boris Fleischer, plaintiffs
[25] You know there a Mr. Devereaux? Mr. Armistead Devereaux?
[26] I think always of Peter Devereaux.
[27] It sounds like an act of desperation, and it won't hold up in court.
[28] In those Oklahoma Hills WHERE AH WAS BOW-AHHHN!
[29] ... that we should meet again like this . . . I think perhaps there is a reason.
[30] "Is there here an American by name of Brockaw?"
[31] This is Boris Fleischer!
[32] "Does Hans work for Gehlen?" Paola shook her head. "More the other way around."
[33] Won't you please come home? Everybody needs you, I most of all.
[34] With this Waffenstillstand you have time now.
[35] You're going to regret this for the rest of your life!
[36] We Europeans would not do it. None of us. - People think you need medical attention.
[37] Will they trust you?
[38] Some things about the U.S.A. are perhaps rather important, and to us impressive.
[39] You're going to need a good lawyer.

version: September 1, 2004
Address of this Page
Arthur R.G. Solmssen, Joachim Gruber