by Walter Roberts
I have lost a dear friend. Everyone who knew him lost a dear friend. Arthur was a unique man and the kindest and most helpful of men. He was highly intelligent and erudite. There was hardly a subject on which he was not informed. His memory was incredible.
Hungarian-born, he learned German as his second language. Indeed, his German was so good that he became an instructor in German at Harvard University. Not only did he speak German without a trace of an accent but his knowledge of German literature was phenomenal. He could talk about Goethe’s “Faust” as intelligently as any expert in that field.
This perfect knowledge of the German language was used effectively by the US Army during the Second World War. In late 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, Arthur commanded mobile broadcasting groups which addressed the German soldiers on the other side of the battle lines.
That language proficiency persuaded us in the State Department that Arthur might be an excellent choice to fill the position of radio officer in occupied Austria. Much is known about the role of RIAS (\Radio in the American Sector), the American-run radio station in West Berlin during the occupation period. What is less known is that a similar station existed in the American occupation zone in Austria. There, as in Berlin, the Soviets had taken over the local network and the news disseminated from April 1945 onward was Soviet-made. The US responded by creating the Red-White-Red network with stations in Vienna, Linz and Salzburg. The director was to be an American who knew German well. Arthur filled the bill and in the five years he was in charge of Red-White-Red he did an outstanding job. The station was well received in intellectual circles and Arthur highly respected in Austria.
While in Vienna, he joined the U.S.Information Agency in 1953 and served as a public diplomacy Foreign Service Officer in several American embassies around the world. One ambassador who previously had worked with him insisted that Arthur be assigned to his embassy.
Fluent in French as well, he was also detailed to the Voice of America as head of the French service, and thereafter two additional VOA assignments: one in charge of the African service and the other supervising the German service.
What we all will most remember is his personality – a wise and gracious man who was liked and admired by all who knew him.
Walter R. Roberts, Former Associate Director, U.S.Information Agency