A London cafe, a dossier, and a double agent: A Cold War short story

Cafe Daquise


How Humanity Became Conscious of the Hand That Rocks the Cradle

Man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is.

Albert Camus

This story was written for a creative writing task for HSC English Extension: After the Bomb.


In an earnest attempt to pace between the light of the lampposts on his left, and the darkness of the closed shops on his right, Kenneth took one last and earnest glimpse of the photograph he had been given before he entered—for the twenty-ninth time—South Kensington’s Café Daquise. Reaching his destination was an unremarkable affair. Erect from up above the café’s right window was a tasteless and tawdry signage the like of which any half-witted agent would readily identify. Exuding from the flickering red caption were the trappings of a Soho alleyway Kenneth had insouciantly received. The restaurant’s exterior was just as banal in its peculiarity. Something of a large telephone booth, it appeared as if it were slotted into the outer left corner of the hundred metre building complex of which it was a part. With the door already open, he placed his black fedora under his right arm, glanced at his watch, and approached the booking lectern. It was twenty-three past eleven.


Continue reading “A London cafe, a dossier, and a double agent: A Cold War short story”


The Weimar Republic 1919-1933: revisiting the social, political, and economic issues of a crippled democracy

The establishment of Germany’s Weimar Republic was as abrupt as the issues it had to manage. Famously, Philipp Scheidemann, a politician of the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands[1] (SPD), declared the republic into existence as a preemptive move against revolutionary Karl Liebknecht[2]. The sundry political, economic and social issues the Weimar Republic had to contain from the period 1919-29 arose from both internal and exogenous forces alike. During its fourteen years, twenty cabinets, twelve chancellors and two presidents — Socialist Friedrich Ebert and Conservative Paul von Hindenburg — the Weimar Republic transitioned continuously from turmoil under Gustav Bauer and Hermann Müller, stability under Stresemann and back, with the onset of the Great Depression. It had to face long and short-term challenges that proved equally difficult in retrospect. Politically, those against the Republic from the extreme left and right alike aimed to replace the nascent democracy, while financially the nation floundered while international forces discussed its economic fate. The defeat of November 1918 also meant the government had to cater for millions of Germans, both young and old, who became reliant on Germany’s social safety net. Ultimately, the government’s success in managing the nation’s political, economic and social issues, including the priorities of sixty-two million German citizens varied by each day, month, and year.

Foundation of ashes

The Versailles Treaty influenced German politics to an extortionate degree from the inception of Weimar to the rise of Hitler. The 440 article (Kaiser 1996) diktat[3] was neither a pyrrhic nor Carthaginian peace for the Germans, allowing those determined to subvert German democracy to prosper (Unterberger 1986). USHMM (2014) theorises the Versailles Treaty posed a political problem such that as long as the Weimar Republic existed, so too did the Dolchstosslegende[4]. Chancellor Friedrich Ebert’s November 1918 pact with Wilhelm Groener[5] characterised the Republic’s impotence in dealing with the army: a political issue insofar as it continued to operate as a ‘state within a state’ (Layton 2009, p. 162). The pact epitomised the titularity of the 1918-19 German revolution[6], with Klaus Fischer (1995, p. 81) the first historian to propound the notion Ebert and the provisional government overestimated the threat from the left and therefore failed to accord proper heed to the danger Weimar’s extreme right posed. Even the Army’s most explicit endorsement of the right — during the Kapp Putsch — was not enough to prompt Baur’s administration out of its untenable allegiance with the army. Louis L. Synder[7] (1966, p. 170) asserted ‘The Republic was naturally incapable of incorporating the Reichswehr … It was unable either to control it or to win its unqualified allegiance’ in The Weimar Republic: a history of Germany from Ebert to Hitler. A highly useful source, the book gives insight into how the army was perceived from a primary perspective. Synder, who predicted the rise of Hitler in 1933, offers a primary (and academic) perspective on Ebert and Hugo Preuss’s success. While it is fair to assess Ebert and subsequent governments’ attempts in restructuring the army as sound, any noticeable change could have ignited latent grievances with the Versailles Treaty: according to Dauve and Authier (2011), an institution redolent of the Red Army[8] appeared the most appropriate option at the time, although this was perceived as unreasonable.

Continue reading “The Weimar Republic 1919-1933: revisiting the social, political, and economic issues of a crippled democracy”