A Cog in the Wheel


Written by Adelaide Lubbock, edited by Sara Goodwins

WW2 diary giving details about life in Austria as the allies try to deal with displaced persons and each other. Refreshingly blunt!

“Certainly [this diary] must not be read by others until I am in my grave and beyond the wrath of those whom I have criticised, perhaps unfairly but without inhibition, within the privacy of these pages.”

A Cog in the Wheel, page 164

ISBN: 978-1-908060-03-7 Categories: , , ,

'I have just seen a notice up saying it is forbidden to keep a diary. I shall take no notice at all of that.'

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.'

Pocket Battleship

This is not Adelaide Lubbock's first book. Born in London, Adelaide spent much of her childhood in Australia where her father Sir Arthur Stanley was Governor of Victoria. In 1977, Nelson published People in Glass Houses: growing up at Government House, one of several books about her experiences and her family and revealed much about the frictions of living so much in the public eye.

Throughout her life Adelaide was unconventional. Not long married and the mother of a young family she became a professional singer and actress. She was appearing with the Crazy Gang when war broke out and might have joined ENSA but preferred to work for the Red Cross in war-torn London. At the end of the war, instead of breathing a sigh of relief, she threw herself into yet more work at the ACA.

A Cog in the Wheel is the story of her time there.

Copyright 2012 Loaghtan Books. All rights reserved.