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In the summer of 1913, Hitler, Stalin, Trotsky, Tito, Freud, Franz Ferdinand and Lenin were all regulars in Vienna’s Café Central

Domagoj Valjak

Vienna is the grandiose capital of Austria situated on the banks of the river Danube and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe.

The city’s historical and cultural heritage is immense; it is known for being the absolute capital of classical music, the center of art and European intellectualism, and the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Color photo lithograph of Vienna, 1900.
Color photolithograph of Vienna, 1900

The city’s huge spacious streets were made for the parades of carriages that carried royalty and noblemen, and are littered with ornamented houses from the periods of baroque and secession.

The city has hundreds of cafes, and some of them have histories of their own that are as rich as the history of the city itself. One of them is the Café Central, the café that occupies the ground floor of the former Bank and Stock market building since the year 1876. The building is known as the Palais Ferstel, after its famous creator, architect Heinrich von Ferstel.

Cafe Central in Vienna, Austria.
Cafe Central in Vienna, Austria

Today, the café is a popular spot for tourists, as it was once a popular gathering place for intellectuals, writers, and artists. Some of the famous people who were regulars at the café include Leon Trotsky, Peter Altenberg, Theodor Herzl, Alfred Adler, Vladimir Lenin and Egon Friedell. The café was also famous for its organized chess competitions, due to which it earned the nickname “Chess School”.

Cafe Central in Vienna interior near portraits of Empress Elisabeth of Austria and Franz Joseph I of Austria. Photo Credit
Cafe Central in Vienna interior near portraits of Empress Elisabeth of Austria and Franz Joseph I of Austria Photo Credit

A historically interesting month for the café was the January of 1913. At that month the café was visited by Josip Broz Tito, Sigmund Freud, Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky. It is unknown whether they ever met, but they probably visited the place at different times.

However, if they had ever met and engaged in conversation, it can only be imagined what kind of a heated dispute, or even a bar brawl, would have occurred. None of the men were highly influential at the time, but they already had their distinct and radically different worldviews.

Interior of the Cafe Central. Photo Credit
Interior of the Cafe Central Photo Credit

If they had met and started exchanging ideas, perhaps the course of history would have radically altered and we would have been living in a different world.

Here is another story from us:“Heil Swing” – The Swing Youth who rebelled against Hitler

The café was closed at the end of the World War II, and remained closed until 1975 when the Palais Ferstel was renovated. Still, it wasn’t until 1986 that the café was returned to its glorious pre-war state, in which it remains today, telling stories about Vienna’s turbulent past.

Domagoj Valjak

Domagoj Valjak is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News