Pokorny who I knew well long ago and for whom I indirectly worked for more than
40 years ago. Pastor Pokorny died in 2008. The web site:
is inaccurate in places. Lots of pieces of the jigsaw in it seem at
odds to what Pokorny told me in Austria and UK.
Certainly by 1969 the Catholic Church was NOT
anti-Bible in Austria, and positively encouraged his work. My battered German
New Testament and ABM silk bookmark is one he gave me, identical to those given
out by him all over Austria at that time. I have been known to quietly sit and
read this, and be noticed by Austrians. The Austrians were, and are,
surprisingly tolerant and ecumenical. I was welcomed, including receiving
communion, at the local parish church.
The Bible Mission has changed
its name slightly. I have emailed to them in Salzburg. I do not know if their
work continues. I have lived and worked in Germany and, for considerable
periods, in Austria
I suspect that
your letter writer also got a few things muddled (ed: this refers to the
earlier letter, shown below, from Peter Worsley). Pastor Pokorny was born
Austrian, not German. He may have been a Hitler Youth leader, but I know
nothing about this. This was not uncommon. The Pope was too so I am told,
though I think he was just a member!
He (Pastor Pokorny) told me
that he had been a Luftwaffe officer, with photo to prove it, though how/when I
don't know. I understood that he was a "golden "boy" who seriously irritated
the Nazi Austrian HQ, now a well known baker's shop on the corner by the opera
in Vienna, by becoming a vocal Christian and then "departing hurriedly". His
activities were strongly with the "professing Church". He never claimed having
had specific request for spying when talking with me. He sometimes referred to
the Gestapo in talks rather than the Abwehr or SD knowing that British
audiences in general wouldn't know the differences, and that they certainly
wouldn't know the SD. OK, they all ended up under the Reich Security Office
(RSA), but being hunted by any of the RSA wasn't to be underestimated, though
the Kripo tended to be a bit of a law unto itself. The Gestapo records in
Vienna and Prinz Albrechtstrasse in Berlin were duplicates of local records,
many of which have survived, but, again, the Germans are distinctly touchy
about anyone wanting to rummage around.
Pokorny was seriously persona
non grata for the Nazi state. He seemingly did a bit more to upset them than
cross the Swiss border. The main archives are now at Ludwigsburg, captured
intact initially by the French, who were replaced by the British who promptly
recatalogued everything in sight, but (a) the Germans are (I did, circa 1988)
distinctly touchy about access (b) you need to be able to read 1930-40s German,
including abbreviations (c) you need to be able to read the "old script"
(Gothic) German. The priest, the MD/CEO of Dunlop Austria, and another top
Austrian "underground" leader were members of my church in the 18th and were
executed by German guillotine (very different from the French), bundled into
sacks and dumped (see parish church stained window), so a lot of elderly people
knew a lot, particularly 20 years ago when I first was there.
Metropole was the RSA base in Vienna. Pokorny certainly "visited" it, he told
me, and everything he told me cross referenced - it was bombed and then torn
down postwar. I have an old Baedecker guide with that hotel being the only one
marked by a - in 1940s ink, no idea why!
The link above (see
evangelical times above) is incorrect about the leaflets distribution. In
Austria you will see rows of wooden rods in everything from top class
restaurants to village barber's shops. These hold magazines, newspapers, etc.
If you pay top subscription, you get it week one, down to lowest subscription
when you get it week 12. Pastor Pokorny had his material inserted into these.
He had powerful friends, such as Kurt Waldheim to whom he introduced me, who
got me my first job in Land Salzburg.
Pastor Pokorny may not have spied
against the Russians, but his activities at the time of the Prague Spring in
1968 certainly did not endear him to those in power in Iron Curtain
countries........... His "Scarlet Pimpernel" activities were different from the
better known Brother Andrew. I personally saw and can vouch for his work and
the large numbers of endangered people that arrived in a village in Austria in
the summer of 1969. It was forbidden to speak anything other than the local
form of German, including me, a zero ability linguist!
quietly got it into my head in Austria that being an idealistic Christian in
the CU with a quiet middle class professional life in a then Christian country
wasn't valid, and that Christians are called to step outside of their comfort
zones, to risk sneers or ridicule in the UK or their necks in many other places
that I have worked.
The writer wished to