Schober of Austria, at Genoa, Looks Every Inch a Chancellor

Ernest Hemingway

The Toronto Daily Star/April 26, 1922

Genoa.—Chancellor Schober of Austria is a white-haired old aristocrat, who took the post of chancellor for the remains of the Hapsburg Empire after Austria had been using up about one prime minister a month and premiers were as popular as the income tax collector. He did not want the job but public opinion forced him into it, and since he has taken hold, Austria has gained the firmest position she has held in Central Europe since the break-up after the armistice.

Chancellor Schober is the only man at the Genoa Conference, with the exception of Lloyd George, that looks the romantic conception of what a chancellor should look. He has a stately presence and carriage, a patrician face, and a high forehead with his head of white hair brushed back.

For forty years under Emperor Franz Joseph and his son Carl, just dead in exile in Madeira, Schober was head of the police department of that strange jumble of geography that was the Austrian Empire. And when the new Austrian Socialist republic finally got completely sick of political leaders and wanted an administrator to head the government, they chose Schober.

After Austria’s revolution, which came at a time when all of Europe was going off into revolutions like a pack of firecrackers, Austria reformed her army. The Socialists were in power and so all the men who tried to enlist in the army who were not Socialists were declared by the examining surgeons to have flat feet, defective lumbar vertebrae, cauliflower ears or some such physical reason for keeping them out of the service. The result was that a ninety-nine percent Socialist army was formed. The one percent who turned out not to be Socialists were promptly weeded out on account of astigmatism, myasma, myopia, too many wisdom teeth or some such cause and replaced by some of the comrades.

This Socialist army was lodged in barracks that were like country clubs, had unlimited leisure and entertainments, was well fed and happy and incidentally gave the Socialists complete control of the country. It began to be very difficult not to be a Socialist with the army to back up all promulgations of the Socialist party. The country was near to going into a sort of guerrilla warfare between the Conservatives and the army when Schober brought order out of the whole mess by a very simple procedure.

Schober, with forty years of police work to back him up, formed a government police force with authority to arrest all lawbreakers regardless of their political beliefs. With his experience, he picked and trained this force of twelve thousand men until they attained a morale and esprit de corps like that of the Royal North-West Mounted Police. In a very short time there was order in Austria. If someone threw a brick as the Socialist army marched past, Schober’s men arrested the brick thrower. If members of the Socialist army coerced or beat anyone, Schober’s men arrested the Socialist soldiers. lt worked wonderfully.

So when Austria sickened of a series of prime ministers who went galloping into office under their promises to obtain credits from the Allies, and came sneaking out of office as soon as it became very apparent there were to be no credits, the Republican government turned to Herr Schober, the old Monarchist.

The last premier had some vague plan for selling all the national art treasures, renting out the museums and mortgaging all the government property to get money. Schober stopped this as he stopped the Monarchist­Socialist fight and went down to business on getting credit for Austria. The result is that credits have been granted that have started Austria back on to her feet again, and for the first time the financial situation of the Austrian republic shows a ray of hope.

(Source: William White, ed. Ernest Hemingway: Dateline: Toronto.Simon and Schuster, 2002.)

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