Letter from Charles R. Drew to Lenore (Robbins) Drew
Item is handwritten.
Number of Image Pages:
14 (4,267,731 Bytes)
1949-07-10 (July 10, 1949)
[Drew, Charles R.]
[Drew, Lenore (Robbins)]
Original Repository: Howard University. Moorland-Spingarn Research Center. Charles R. Drew Papers
Reproduced with permission of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center.
"My Chief Interest Was and Is Surgery"--Howard University, 1941-1950
Sunday July 10, 1949
This afternoon we left Vienna by motor car and traveling down the Danubian Valley arrived about an hour ago at this small
Austrian town of Lintz [sic]. It became important during the war because Goring built here under the mountains a steel plant
employing 47,000 people. We are now billeted in the house over this vast underground factory which was occupied by the German
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Bitter fighting took place in the area before it was knocked out. We have an occupation force here now of about 3000 men and
a 150 bed hospital. It is a somewhat isolated post. I shall not speak more of it.
I do want to tell you about Vienna. We left Munich on Thursday night on the one American train allowed to cross the Russian
zone each day, a distance of about 200 miles -- an overnight trip. The train -- "the Mazout" -- famous even before
the war is now
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what is known as a "sealed train" i.e. one cannot get off after boarding. It is guarded by American troops. Vienna,
like Berlin, is in Russian territory. Only the city is under four power control. The one real fear of the Americans in Vienna
is that they will be blockaded. It would be impossible for them to get out and the Army feels that an air lift here would
We arrive at about 6:30 AM
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and were met by Col. Sailor C.O. of the 110th Station hospital. After breakfast we made rounds, watched the chief surgeon
operate, had lunch, gave a talk followed by a two hour seminar and then the Col. announced that tickets were available for
the opera to be given that night. We skipped dinner in order to get into town by 6:30 PM.
The opera, the Beggar Student was delightful. A cast of about 200 on a beautiful revolving stage with
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Viennese music such as on the Viennese can play in Vienna. The four of us, Reich, Middleton, Tovell and I, enjoyed it a great
deal. I, of course did not understand all of the German, but the story developed in such a manner that the sense was easily
followed. Being a light opera, the music was the thing. Incidentally, we sat in the Emperor's box. It now is assigned
to the American General commanding the area
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during the rotation of supreme command. Each month it changes. When the Russians are in charge, the box belongs to the Russian
General, then in turn, the English and French. No Austrian is allowed to sit in it.
There is this difference between Germany and Austria-Germany is an occupied country, the occupying forces govern their areas--Austria
is a liberated country--they run it them-
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selves. In truth there is very little difference. Neither has any money. American money is rebuilding each and doing everything
possible to show the natives that our way of life is the best way. Here in Austria I believe we have been successful.
Vienna, while it has many buildings in ruins was not devasted [sic] like the German cities. It is still a great capital in
spite of the fact that.
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it is the capital of a lost empire hence must surely die. It is a city of lost dreams and music. I have not had a meal outside
of the hospital where there was not music -- all kinds -- from Beethoven to very good American swing. The one defect in the
picture is the fact that we are always with Colonels or Generals who of course do
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not indulge in the pleasures of the G.I.s and who at all times are playing a game of bluff with the Russians and conduct themselves
in an absolutely impeccable manner. We, as representatives of the surgeon general, do likewise. Even this has not spoiled
the enjoyment of the vast historical panopy [sic] stretched out on all sides. The great and beautiful palace
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of the Hapsburg's palace (Burg) in the city and the simply marvelous summer place called Schornbron [sic]. Here Marie
Theresa raised her 16 children and gave orders to the rest of the world, From here little Marie Antoinette went to become
Queen of France and her sister to become Queen of Holland, Here Napoleon
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lived from 1804 - 1809 and married the daughter of the Emperor of Austria. Here Franz Joseph was born, reigned longer than
any monarch in history and finally died to join 137 kings of the Hapsburg line in a common resting place.
Here Mozart, Hayden Shubert and Bethoven [sic] left their immortal heritage that still lives so brightly in
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the heart of the people. These are not the war like Herren folk of north Germany. They as in the past sip their small sips
of Turkish coffee at the numerous out of door cafes. On weekends they hike by the thousands to the nearby Vienna woods.
This city is the melting pot of the East and West. The Turkish influence is still seen in its
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church towers and architecture, its people are more cosmopolitan than those seen in the German cities, They are poor, but
so was Shubert - so was Bethoven [sic] who was buried in potter's field before his genius became appreciated. Vienna is
still a fascinating place.
I had the pleasure of making sounds at the world famous Allgemeines Krankenheit [sic] (3000 bed gen. hospital).
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It is shabby and poor, treatment at least 15 - 20 years behind ours yet to watch Herr Geheinrat Prof. Dr. Herman Finsterer
operate was a great privilege. He has done over 8,000 gastric resections, No one else in the world can even approach this.
Tomorrow night I go to Salzburg, up in the Austrian Alps. I hope that all goes well. I love you all so much.