After the war everything changed. Much ink has been wasted trying to explain what happened. Kraus was writing a play about it, and he read part of it for a few people. He went to the Café Central, in a mood for it. He sought refuge there quite frequently. He read a scene about a wounded officer in a hospital. It wasn’t very long, but it moved Pauline to tears. There was a lot left unsaid, and the singsong manner in which it was read somehow made it more disturbing. As Pauline listened she felt very close to Fritz, though she didn’t know whether he was alive or dead. And when at the end the playwright asked for feedback, she said, “I wanted to know more about the patient.” The playwright showed his loathing. He lashed out at her in a way that she didn’t deserve, as he shouted, “Who are you, and what do you know about writing a play?” He didn’t lash out simply because Pauline posed a threat to him or his beliefs but because he really wasn’t looking for criticism. He then said, “Forgive me. I asked for it. I deserve it. The play’s a montage. Depicting a war didn’t give me much leeway. I wasn’t trying to write a well-made play, and my stage is much bigger than a room. So please forgive me. You didn’t know what I was trying to do. To show to you that I bear no malice, the wine is on me.” Pauline and her companions went to Café Central just to see people like Kraus and Freud. Both celebrities now recognized them. “So it’s you,” Kraus would say whenever he saw Pauline after that. It became a personal joke. But they could only take so much of Kraus. Pauline liked his poetry best and his attitude towards death. “Beneath the Waterfall.”
Far behind me is all the woe and weakness.
How constant is the waterfall;
How does this sunny land bless all
My crowding thoughts before night’s darkness.”
Kraus satirized psychoanalysis like he satirized everything else. Now when Freud went anywhere he looked for this person who he first courted. It wasn’t long before he outright detested the writer of the Frackel and took every opportunity to express his contempt. It got downright nasty. Typically Kraus would fire back with something that showed off his genius and had a huge following in Vienna. But few people would stand by him, so what we had, in Vienna especially, were people who admired Kraus, but followed Freud.
There appeared one evening at the Café Central a man, who was obviously homosexual. He ordered champagne for everyone sitting at the table, and he offered a toast. He was in his late twenties, also obviously Jewish and was carefully dressed, which seemed in character for him. Frederick introduced him to Herr Lippert and Pauline, “Let me introduce a friend of mine,” and the four of them finished off the bottle.
Herr Lippert, feeling somewhat uncomfortable, but knowing that he had to keep his feelings to himself, said “Great champagne.”
The friend of Frederick said in an extraordinarily feminine voice, “Not many people come here for the champagne, but I do.”
Herr Lippert didn’t know how to take the man. But Frederick and Pauline seemed to accept him, and Herr Lippert decided to give him a chance. But homosexual and Jewish! How it didn’t seem to bother them. But to Herr Lippert…who came from a Christian family who generally never associated with Jews except in a business setting…it felt awkward; not the setting, not the reaction of his friends, but the champagne helped break the ice.
Frederick’s friend wasn’t shy, and Herr Lippert saw it almost immediately.
He asked, “Do you attend the University?”
Frederick’s friend said, “I work now. It’s my obligation. I’m part of the movement. It’s what I have to do. It won’t be so important twenty years from now. But we can’t wait until then. There are all these projects to do, and if we can get everyone to working there isn’t a limit to what we can do. And I drink champagne to remind myself where I came from. And I’m not looking to flaunt the laws. In the future, as we move forward, I hope there will come a day when I won’t have to. So I help out. I draw the plans and seek bids…you have to have plans. Sometimes my plans are accepted. Sometimes not. When they’re accepted, I come here and break out the champagne. Frederick knows all this. My name’s Ludwig.
“Sorry Ludwig, I should’ve introduced you by name.”
“My mistake, I should’ve reminded you.”