‘I have just seen a notice up saying it is forbidden to keep a diary. I shall take no notice at all
Adelaide Lubbock knew her own mind and was not about to be dictated to by others. That’s fortunate or we should have missed out on an entertaining and often revealing look behind the scenes of the aftermath of the Second World War.
When the war ended, the allies – Britain, the US, Russia and France – needed to work out what to do with Germany and Austria. The Allied Commission for Austria (ACA) was formed in July 1945 to ensure Austria ‘be liberated from German domination and re-established as free and independent.’
Adelaide, had travelled extensively on the continent before the war, spoke German, French and Italian, and was eager to help. She had been working for the Red Cross and, as she says
‘found a job doing relief work abroad, which is what I want to do after being cooped up in London and working in slums all these war years.’
She was appointed to deal with the health and welfare of displaced persons and, as one of the very few civilians in the Commission, was candid in her opinions of her military colleagues:
‘These forms are in my opinion utterly impracticable, and could only have been thought out by one of those absurd theorising boobies who dress themselves up as soldiers and are called “experts”. It is folly to expect any harassed DP officer, with thousands of milling refugees clamouring to be fed and sent home, to sit down and fill in a registration form with thirty seven questions on it in quintuplicate; and not only this form, but eighteen others…’
Adelaide’s experiences ranged from struggling to improve the terrible sanitary conditions of emergency camps to hearing opera in a bombed Vienna. Living in anything from a tent to the house formerly owned by Richard Strauss, she still found time to keep a diary, and it is that record which is published here:
‘I have written down everything as it occurred to me at the moment, and for what it is worth, it is the day-to-day account of the experiences of a very small cog in a very large wheel’.