1929-1930 Paris

I was sent to Paris on a double assignment: as a cultural correspondent to write .feature articles, but also to work/or the Ullstein News Service. In Jerusalem I had been my own master; in Paris I had to keep strenuous office hours. For several months, when we were short of staff, I was on night duty from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. and from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. This schedule confronted me with the problem whether it was preferable to go to bed at midnight and be woken up at 3.15 by the shriek of the alarm clock, or not to go to bed at all. But it also provided the opportunity to become familiar with aspects of Paris which belong to a vanished epoque.

In between the strenuous office hours and night shifts, I wrote on an average two feature articles per month for the Vossische Zeitung, the Ullsteins' most venerable liberal daily, roughly comparable to the Manchester Guardian of the period. I wrote about surrealist films (Bunuel's classic Un Chien Andalou had just come out), and about the Pitoefs' theatre; about the fantastic scandal of the Gazette du Franc and the fantastic disappearance of the White Russian General Kutiepof (who had been kidnapped by the GPU-a fact which, as a good Progressive, I refused to believe). I also wrote about the Piccolis' famous marionette theatre which for a while I frequented as a hobby; about spring in Paris, the first French talkies, Maeterlinck's latest book, and the Duc de Broglie's theory of matter-waves which won him the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1929.
That last article had a decisive influence on my fortunes. I had called on de Broglie less than an hour after the newsflash from Stockholm had reached our office, and before he himself had received confirmation of the award. He was happy as a schoolboy, made no effort to conceal it, and asked me twice: "Are you quite sure that it is true and not a hoax?" One or two journalists had already telephoned and asked him idiotic questions about sun-spots and death-rays; so he was much relieved to discover that I had been a student of science and took a passionate interest in physics. We talked for three or four hours - de Broglie was then thirty-seven, and an exceptional combination of genius and charm - after which I worked through the night in a state of exaltation.
The article was a popular expose of the revolutionary implications of the de Broglie-Schroedinger theory of wave-mechanics; it appeared a few days later in the Vossische and occupied a whole page. As a result, the Ullsteins decided that I had a knack .for popularising scientific subjects; and as the Science Editor of the Vossische, Professor Joel, was nearing retirement age, they offered me that job, which I accepted with enthusiasm. On revient toujours a son premier amour - the arrow in the blue reasserted its magic attraction.
I took up my new job in Berlin in September, 1930; the first honeymoon with Paris had lasted Just over a year. I did not suspect that three years later I would be back, as a penniless refugee.

Koestler at 25