The New York Times, December 19, 1897, p.19:|
VIENNA AND ITS 500 CAFESThey Are the Centres of the Social Life
of the Imperial City of the Hapsburgs.
WHERE ALL AUSTRIA GOSSIPS
A Queer Story as to Their Origin--
Characteristics of Some of the More Noted of
a Famous Lot of Eating and Drinking Places.
VIENNA, Dec. 7.--The American who visits Vienna for the first time is struck by the number of cafés to be seen everywhere, giving one the impression of an Oriental tour. They number upward of 500. As Vienna was the first European city to introduce the modern café, it has, perhaps, a better right than other towns to have such an extraordinary number of these resorts.
At Vienna, moreover, every one goes to the café--men, women, priests, and children. The café is the centre of social life. It is there that the Government's policy is discussed, business transacted, and the latest play criticized.
At 4 o'clock in the afternoon it is with difficulty that a seat can be had in one of these popular meeting places. At that hour every Viennese partakes of his afternoon coffee, which fills the place of the Englishman's 5 o'clock tea.
These cafés are regular reading rooms; many of them take as many as 500 different newpapers, and often fifteen copies of the same paper (some popular Austrian or foreign sheet) are on file. Whenever a foreigner enters a café the experienced waiter recognizes his nationality. If he be an American, a New York daily is brought to him; if a Frenchman, a Paris boulevard paper is set before him, and so on. If a Russian enters, a box of cigarettes is at once forthcoming.
Characteristics of the Cafés.
The afternoon coffee is of two kinds--either a "mixture" served with cream, like the French café au lait, or a capucin, served without milk. Whether it be a mixture or capucin, the Viennese coffee is by far the best to be had on the Continent, and justly famed.
Each Vienna café has its own typical clientele, characteristics, and history. At the Café de l'Europe may be seen the prominent foreigners passing through Vienna. The Austrian noblemen go to the magnificent cafés on the Graben and the Ring.
The café of the National Hotel is the favorite rendezvous of pleasure seekers. There congregate the Vienna jeunesse dorée, actors, actresses, journalists, and cocettes.
The Café Daum, closed a few years ago, was the most famous café in the annals of Vienna. There famous politicians, military aristocrats, statesmen, and courtiers, some of the best-known names in latter-day Austrian history, were to be met. The history of the Daum Café was, in fact, the history of Austria itself from 1848 down to the present decade.
Regulars and Transients.
Cafés are for the Viennese like a second house, and they all have two kinds of clients, the stammgäste, or habitués, and the laufende, or transients. The habitués, commonly called wirthausbrüder, (café brothers,) have tables reserved for them, and woe betide the man who ventures to take possession of this sacred property. There are many Viennese who, in the past thirty or forty years, have sat at the same table in the same corner, day after day, drinking the same brew of beer or brand of wine, and smoking the same sort of tobacco in the same old pipes.
A stammgäste generally spends from three to four hours every day at his café, the natural result being a great loss of time and money. But the Viennese are not miserly. The maxim they follow is found in the German proverb, which seems to have been written on purpose for them: Leben und leben lassen-- "Live and let live."
Cosmopolitan Eating Cellars.
Besides these cafés, there are a number of "restaurant cellars" in Vienna, similar to the cellars at Leipsic, Hamburg, and Bremen, where people go to drink wine and partake of delicatessen, pâtés, oysterse, caviar, smoked fish, Westphalian sausages, and other eatables of the same general sort.
There are certain cellars, like the old Felsenkeller, which are arranged like grottoes. The Felsenkeller has been visited by many European celebrities, and on its walls are scratched the autographs of Victor Hugo, Meyerbeer, Wagner, Brahms, Alexandre Dumas, father and son, and many others.
The most picturesque of these cellars is the Esterhazy Keller, open every day from 11 A. M. until 1:30 the following morning. In this subterranean resort there are no tables, chairs, or gas lights. A few old benches against the walls and some wretched candles are the only furnishings.
The demi-monde, the petit monde, and the quart de monde frequent this cellar to a great extent. A perfect Babel of languages prevails--German, Polish, Czech, Russian, French, Hungarian, Slavonian, Italian, Servian, Bulgarian, Roumanian, and Greek may all be heard spoken in the space of a few minutes, giving a splendid idea of Vienna's cosmopolitan nature, and a striking proof that the imperial capital of the Hapsburgs is not a German city, but a town which is neither European nor Oriental, and possessing a cachet of its own, which partake both of the East and West.
Notwithstanding the bohemian aspect of this Esterhasy Keller and the poor quality of the food provided, the two kinds of wine served are worthy of a royal table.
Good Native Wines are Plenty.
Excellent wine is to be found at all Vienna cafés, much of which is native. Austria and Hungary together grow some fifteen different wines. Emperor Charles IV. transplanted in 1348 vines from Burgandy to Melnik and Czernosek. In Lower Austria vineyards are found 6,000 feet above the sea level.
The wines of Gumpoldskirchen, Voeslau, and Klosterneubourg can vie with Burgundy and certain Rhine wines. In Southern Tyrol, in Styria, Carinthia, Moravia, Illyria, Dalmatia, Hungary, and Croatia first-class wine is made, and forms in the Slav provinces the habitual drink of rich and poor alike.
The consequence is that the Slav races of Austria are far more energetic and of finer physique than the purely German Austrians, who become bloated by excessive beer drinking.
Good Food is Scarce.
It is not easy to find good food at the Vienna cafés and restaurants, however. The Viennese manner of cooking is as international as are the Viennese themselves. The best is found at the hotels, all of which have three different classes of restaurants--one underground for the petits employes and coachmen, one on the ground floor for the Viennese upper and middle classes, and finally one on the first floor for foreigners.
For 50 cents of American money a Viennese gets a portion of meat, a vegetable, and a sweet dish, which is certainly not cheap when compared to other Continental capitals. The usual time for dinner is from 1 to 3 P. M., and supper is taken at any time between 7 and 11.
As the theatres are over by 10, supper is taken afterward. At that time of night every café in Vienna is crowded. A Viennese who has gone to the theatre with his wife and children would fracture all conventions if he did not take his family to sup at a café.
The Origin of the Café.
This story is told of the origin of the modern Vienna café. It was in 1683, when Vienna was besieged by the Turks. Notwithstanding the heroic defense of Count Rudiger Stamberg, the Viennese saw the time approaching when they would be compelled to capitulate, if help from without did not reach them.
One morning Kulczycki, a handsome young Pole, presented himself to Starmberg and offered to cross the Turkish lines and warn the army of reinforcements of Vienna's desperate condition. Starmberg accepted the offer, and that night Kulczycki, disguised as a Turk, left the besieged city and entered the Ottoman camp.
He was at once arrested and taken to the Commander in Chief. In answer to questions put to him, he replied that he was a Belgrade merchant, and had come to propose a new plan of furnishing provisions to the Turkish army. The Commander in Chief was pleased with the proposal, and ordered the young man to be set at liberty.
Kulczycki then, without exciting suspicion, was able to approach the Austrian army of relief and give the necessary information. A few days later Sobieski and Charles of Lorraine took the Turks by surprise and completely routed them.
When Count Starmberg sent for Kulczycki and asked him what reward he desired, Kulczycki answered that all he wanted was the provision of green coffee which the Turks had abandoned in their camp. This strange request was at once granted, and Kulczycki, who knew the use the Turks made of the green beans, but until then entirely unknown to Europeans, began to sell coffee, first in the streets of Vienna and later on in a small shop.
As the popularity of the new beverage increased, Kulczycki had to seek larger quarters,and at his death, in 1703, he was the proprietor of a prosperous café, the first of the kind in Europe, and direct forerunner of our modern cafés.
B. C. DE WOLF.
The New York Times, February 20, 1920:|
It is impossible for Americans to feel anything but sympathy and approval for the demand of France to be secured against a renewal of German aggression, but when France uses this feeling as the basis for a protest against the union of German Austria with Germany it becomes necessary to see whether the facts justify it. The French argument is a simple one--German Austria would add 8,000,000 people to Germany, and the danger across the Rhine would be that much greater.
As against this three arguments may be brought. In the first place, Germany will lose her French, Polish, and perhaps her Danish territory, so that, allowing for war losses, her population, even with German Austria included, would be hardly greater than before the war.
Secondly, the Peace Conference is presumably making an international arrangement which will keep Germany in restraint; and for a body of nations so powerful as that now formed, it will be no harder to control 68,000,000 Germans than 60,000,000.
Thirdly, Germany controlled Austria before the war, and not only Austria, but Hungary and all the races subject to these two states. That is to say, Germany regarded as a military Power consisted of the German Empire, with perhaps 70,000,000 people, and the Dual Monarchy, with 50,000,000, a total of 120,000,000. Of these more than 40,000,000 have been taken away by the liberation of the subject peoples of Austria-Hungary and the breaking of the Austro-Hungarian Ausgleich. The man power of Central Europe has been reduced by a third, and to cut off the few millions of German Austria would make little difference with what is left.
Austria in a moderate Germany will quite conceivably be a moderate, an anti-Prussian force, strengthening devolutionary and anti-militarist tendencies wherever found; for her imperialists were Austrian imperialists, whose occupation is gone since the fall of the Hapsburgs, and who were always uneasy under Prussian control. But German Austria standing alone would be as wholly at the mercy of the dominant element in Germany as was the Dual Monarchy before the war. She would have less influence on German policy than if she were a State of the new "Volksreich," for her only salvation would be in following the orders that came from Germany, whoever gave them and whatever they might be. Austria is a poor and small country, and cannot stand alone economically or politically.
The French opponents of her union with Germany recognize this to some extent, and favor her entry into a Danube confederation. It is not hard to see in this the survival of the old theory that if Austria, in the sense of a monarchy uniting a dozen discordant peoples, did not exist, it would be necessary to invent her. But however true this may have been in 1848, or even in the sixties, it is a hopelessly antiquated view today. The Slavs and Latins of the Dual Monarchy have won independence after a bitter struggle, which has left them little disposed to any kind of federation with their old masters. The reasons for this appear, to some extent, in a statement by Otto Bauer, Foreign Minister of German Austria, which appeared in the Vienna Arbeiter Zeitung some weeks ago. Bauer had no confidence in the possibility of even a customs union, which for obvious reasons was favored by business interests in Vienna, and one of his objections was that, if such a union existed, the old dynastic and aristocratic groups would be constantly intriguing for its conversion into a political union. That is to say, Austria in a Danube confederation might, in conjunction with the landed nobility of Hungary, do her best to restore the old monarchy, which would add 40,000,000 more to the mass east of the Rhine.
The chance of achieving this would be, of course, of the slightest, but there is no reason why we should insist on a political organization which would keep the dying Hapsburg imperialism alive. Union of Austria with Germany would kill it. Even a customs union, Bauer thought, would be impossible on account of the differing degrees of industrial development and the conflicting interests of the nations which composed it. France will be safer if the Slavs are left to themselves, and if Austria is added to such German elements as may counterbalance the Prussian militarists.