In the early 1920s, American newspapers were just beginning to hire Americans as foreign correspondents. They had had them in times of war – almost always men who had made names for themselves covering distant battlefields – but not in other times, when they tended to rely on news outlets like Reuters and the Associated Press (the in turn sourced their stories from the local press). ). “That changed with the war, the 50,000 dead Doughboys in France, and the settlement at Versailles,” writes Deborah Cohen in her new book, Last Call at the Hotel Imperial: The Reporters Who Took on a World at War (Random Haus). . “Now Americans needed their own eyes and ears abroad. Never again would the Europeans, especially the British, lure naïve Yankees into a costly continental entanglement.”
At that time, seven major newspapers were building large-scale foreign news services: The Chicago Daily News, the New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune, the Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, and the Philadelphia Evening Ledger. The group of reporters covering the international rhythm were bold, glamorous and quite fearless as they headed overseas to cover the fall of monarchies and the rise of dictators and political movements, earning a front row seat of the unfolding history of the world.
These reporters, including John Gunther, H.R. Knickerbocker, Vincent Sheean, and Dorothy Thompson, covered the decade between the world wars, when the world broke apart after World War I and reassembled only to fall apart again.
Dorothy Thompson urged her editors to send her to Vienna in 1920 as the former Habsburg Empire faltered after losing most of its territory and population. Thompson felt that the “troubles of East-Central Europe – nationalist grievances combined with economic dislocation – would pose problems for the future”.
The Viennese Beat included Albania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania, Greece and Turkey. Knowing of America’s obsession with royalty, she wrote of eligible Romanian dukes and ‘flimsy Russian princesses driving taxis’. She kept stopping to land a story, and once snuck into Esterhazy Palace disguised as a Red Cross nurse to tend to a pregnant former empress during an unsuccessful coup attempt. She interviewed Ataturk, Trotsky, Hitler and once borrowed money from Sigmund Freud to travel to Poland to cover Marshal Pilsudski’s rise to power.
“If you’re told you write like a man,” Dorothy later told a group of reporters, “don’t take it as a compliment. That is just a man’s seal of approval and has no meaning.”
https://nypost.com/2022/04/09/these-american-reporters-covered-europe-between-world-wars/ These American reporters covered Europe between the world wars