George Eric Rowe Gedye

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

George Eric Rowe Gedye [geddi] (*27 May 1890 in Clevedon, Somerset, †21 March 1970; often cited as G. E. R. Gedye), was a British journalist, author and intelligence officer.

Life and work[edit]

Gedye, the foreign correspondent for eminent British and American newspapers, was the son of grocer George Edward Gedye. He was an early proponent for democracy and against Nazism in Germany and Austria. Personally, he was described as reserved, cold, and distantly polite.

Gedye attended an officer's course at London University, but then fought in the First World War as a simple infantryman on the Western Front. After he was wounded in 1916, Gedye worked as an officer in the British Army Intelligence from 1917. He was first assigned to the staff of the British military governor of Cologne where, because of his excellent knowledge of German and French, was in charge of interrogating prisoners of war. Later he worked for the Allied High Commissioner for the Rhineland.

In 1922, Gedye chose a career in journalism. He spent almost two decades working as a reporter for leading British and American newspapers in Central Europe. Based out of Cologne, he was soon known and recognised for his investigative reporting. Gedye's reports for The Times about the occupation of the Ruhr in 1923 were an indictment of the imperialist pursuits of Poincaré. Early on he recognised the severe economic restrictions on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles as providing fertile ground for the rise of National Socialism. Because of this reporting, he was recalled to London in 1924 to the foreign policy department of The Times.

In 1925, The Times sent him to Vienna. However, his reports did not toe the predetermined editorial line and he was fired. Soon after, he briefly worked for the Daily Express and then began his association with the Daily Telegraph. Gedye built an editorial office in Vienna that was soon responsible for covering several countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

In 1929 Gedye moved to the New York Times, which in 1931 appointed him as head of the Office for Central and South Eastern Europe. He also wrote for other newspapers, including for The Nation and British newspapers, but kept a certain distance from the group of Anglo-Saxon correspondents that often gathered in Vienna's Café Louvre, including Marcel Fodor, John Gunther and Dorothy Thompson.

"In Vienna, he had witnessed the struggle of the young republic against inflation and economic crisis, he had witnessed the services of a social democratic local government – and the disastrous policies of a number of clerical governments. As a Democrat Gedye had come to Vienna. But, as he explained in his own words, under the thunder of Dollfuss cannons, under the experience of the February battles, he became a Social Democrat and as such he left Vienna." In 1934 Gedye helped the young Kim Philby rescue fighters of the Republican Defense Corps.

At times Gedye circumvented news censorship imposed by Austria by driving to Bratislava to submit his reports.

Three days after the Anschluss Gedye was deported by the Gestapo as an undesirable alien. After a short stay in London, he moved to Prague, where he completed his most famous book: Betrayal in Central Europe—Austria and Czechoslovakia: The Fallen Bastions. In it, Gedye sharply attacked the British appeasement policy, putting into words "what the Austrians and Czechs sold to fascism felt and suffered, but under the thumb of Hitler, under the threat of the concentration camp could not say themselves."

Because of the book's passionate indictment and scathing condemnation of Chamberlain's course, the publisher that had originally planned to publish the work rejected it. The conservative British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, for which Gedye had been working for a decade, gave him the choice of either publishing the book or continuing his post as Central Europe correspondent. Gedye decided in favour of publishing and gave up his position. The success of the work proved him right—it appeared within two months in five editions.

After the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia on 14 March 1939, Gedye had to hide for ten days in the attic of the British Embassy in Prague, until receiving permission from the Germans to emigrate to Poland. Then until 1940, Gedye was the New York Times correspondent in Moscow. He spent several years in Turkey, where he worked for the British Secret War Special Operations Executive (SOE). Among other things, he served as an executive officer for the exiled Austrian Social Democrats Karl Hans Sailer and Stefan Wirlandner. The latter tried in 1943 to make connections from Istanbul to Austria. In 1942, Gedye was arrested by the Turkish police. German newspapers claimed that he was involved in a conspiracy to assassinate the German Ambassador Franz von Papen. But Gedye was quickly released and spent the rest of the war in the Middle East.

From 1945 Gedye was again a central Europe correspondent, this time for the socialist London newspaper Daily Herald. Among other things, he wrote a series of articles exposing conditions in starving Vienna. Gedye also wrote against the expulsion of the Sudeten German population from Czechoslovakia after 1945.

Gedye's son Robin Gedye worked for many years, until 1996, in Bonn as German correspondent for the Daily Telegraph.


  • A Wayfarer in Austria. Methuen & Co Ltd., London 1928.
  • The Revolver Republic. France's bid for the Rhine. Arrowsmith, London 1930.
    Die Revolver-Republik. Frankreichs Werben um den Rhein. Aus dem Englischen von Hans Garduck. Vorwort von Friedrich Grimm. Gilde-Verlag, Köln 1931.
    Excerpts from this work appeared as:
    The French in the Ruhr. From the Revolver Republic. Edited by Maria Alphonsa Beckermann. Schöningh, Paderborn/Würzburg 1935 (Schöninghs englische Lesebogen; Nr. 30)
    The Revolver Republic. Edited by Maria Alphonsa Beckermann. Schöningh, Paderborn/Würzburg 1938 (Schöninghs englische Lesebogen; Nr. 31)
  • Heirs To The Habsburgs. With a Foreword by G. P. Gooch. J. W. Arrowsmith, Bristol 1932.
  • Fallen Bastions. The Central European Tragedy. Victor Gollancz Ltd., London 1939.
    Betrayal in central Europe. Austria and Czechoslovakia, the fallen bastions. New and revised edition. Harper & Brothers, New York 1939.
    Paperback reissue. Faber & Faber 2009. ISBN 978-0571251896.
    Suicide de l'Autriche. La Tragedie de l'Europe Centrale. Texte francais de Maximilien Vox. Union latine d' editions, Paris 1940.
    Die Bastionen fielen. Wie der Faschismus Wien und Prag überrannte. Übersetzt von Henriette Werner und Walter Hacker. Danubia, Wien 1947.
    Als die Bastionen fielen. Die Errichtung der Dollfuss-Diktatur und Hitlers Einmarsch in Wien und den Sudeten. Eine Reportage über die Jahre 1927–1938. Nachdruck der deutschen Ausgabe von 1947. Junius, Wien 1981, ISBN 3-900370-01-X.
  • Communism in Czechoslovakia. The Contemporary Review Company, London 1952.
  • Introducing Austria. Methuen & Co., London 1955.

Collaborations und Contributions

  • La justice militaire. In: Gerhard Wächter: French Troops on the Rhine. A danger to the peace of Europe. G. Heger, Heidelberg 1927. (Nicht im Handel erschienen.)
  • We Saw it Happen: The News Behind the News That's Fit to Print. Sammelband, hrsg. von Hanson W. Baldwin and Shepard Stone. Mit Beiträgen von Arthur Krock; F. Raymond Daniell; Frank Nugent; Douglas Churchill; Elliott V. Bell; Ferdinand Kuhn Jr.; Russell Owen; John Kieran; William R. Conklin; Hugh Byas; Brooks Atkinson und Louis Stark. Simon and Schuster, New York 1939.
  • Die Wahrheit über den Februar 1934 (The Truth about February 1934). With contributions from: Otto Bauer, Leon Blum, Julius Deutsch, Rosa Jochmann, Theodor Körner, Wilhelmine Moik, Rudolfine Muhr, Adolf Perlmutter, Marianne Pollak, Oscar Pollak, Helene Potetz, Gabriele Prost, Erwin Scharf, Adolf Schärf, Paul Speiser, Emile Vandervelde, Paula Wallisch und P. G. Walker. Sozialistischer Verlag, Wien o. J. (um 1946); (= Sozialistische Hefte, Folge 12).
  • Wien. Part of the article: Briefe aus vier Hauptstädten: Krise des Parlamentarismus? (Letters from Four Capitols: Crisis of Parliamentarianism?) In: Der Monat. Eine internationale Zeitschrift für Politik und geistiges Leben. With contributions from: Czesław Miłosz, Oscar Handlin, Arthur Koestler, Gustav Stern, Fritz Brühl, Gustav Mersu und Friedrich Luft. Edited by Melvin J. Lasky. Berlin 1953. 5. Jahrgang, Juni. Heft 57.4.


  • Ernst Marboe (editor): The Book of Austria. Österreichische Staatsdruckerei, Vienna 1948.


  • Peter Pirker: Subversion deutscher Herrschaft. Der britische Kriegsgeheimdienst SOE und Österreich. Vienna University Press, Göttingen 2012, ISBN 978-3-89971-990-1
  • Thomas Wittek: Auf ewig Feind? Das Deutschlandbild in den britischen Massenmedien nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg. Dissertation. Oldenbourg Verlag, München 2005, ISBN 3-486-57846-4 ([1], p. 110, at Google Books).
  • Matthew Frank: Expelling the Germans ([2], p. 183, at Google Books).

External links[edit]