One hundred years ago this summer, as told in Part 1 of “Come Home Instantly,” the Fenyes and Curtin families of Pasadena, California, went abroad on a European vacation. They traveled together across the Atlantic Ocean on the S.S. France and enjoyed the sights of Paris before going their separate ways in early June. Leonora and Babsie Curtin joined family friends Dr. & Mrs. Behr, also from Pasadena, in Geneva, while Eva and Adalbert Fenyes boarded the train bound for Germany.
The Fenyeses arrived in Berlin early in the morning on June 4, 1914. Eva wrote in her journal, “Went to Westminster Hotel & had the rooms in which the Behrs spent the Winter. Splendid big drawing room on the Unter den Linden.” The lovely tree lined boulevard whose name means ‘under the linden trees’ runs from Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate) to the Schlossbrücke (Palace Bridge), and Eva sketched the view looking east from her hotel room. “Unter den Linden, where our hotel is – is very attractive with its 4 rows of lindens. They are much smaller than I had expected. There are two rows of grass plots & earth-walks all down the middle. Seats invite the pedestrians to rest. In fact the city seems home-like & ‘steady’ ” She enjoyed the quiet in her hotel room and commented that in Berlin, “Solidity, order, cleanliness, politeness impress one always and everywhere.” The idea of peaceful strolls and rest under the linden trees, with order and politeness everywhere, would be shattered in just two months when Germany declared war on Russia. On August 1st a crowd of thousands would gather in front of the Royal Palace. Historian Barbara Tuchman describes the awful scene. “At five o’clock a policeman appeared at the palace gate and announced mobilization to the crowd, which obediently struck up the national anthem, ‘Now thank we all our God.’ Cars raced down Unter den Linden with officers standing up in them, waving handkerchiefs and shouting, ‘Mobilization!’…people cheered wildly and rushed off to vent their feelings on suspected Russian spies, several of whom were pummeled or trampled to death in the course of the next few days.” But before that terrible turn from civility, before war was declared, Eva and Adalbert, with the promise of an idyllic European summer, innocently continued their vacation.
Unfortunately, Eva was ill most of the time, but she did continue sketching; and, while they are few, her watercolors establish a timeline of their travels through Germany, Bohemia, Austria, and finally back to Germany again. These sketches, a few photographs, and an album of souvenir postcards are the only known record from this part of their trip. Eva’s journal abruptly ends on June 9th during their railway trip from Prague to Vienna. In this last entry she briefly observed, “Have stopped just now at Beneschau [Benešov, Bohemia, today the Czech Republic]. Many military men are about. Dr. says because the Austrian Crown Prince is here now.” With these words, we find our Pasadena travelers at the nexus of events that profoundly changed the world. Just a few days after Eva and Adalbert passed through Benešov, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany met at nearby Konopischt, the Archduke’s palace and hunting lodge. As friends they would hunt together and socialize with their wives, and some speculate they talked privately about the troubles in central Europe and the Balkans. Whatever they discussed unofficially, any agreements or conclusions they may have reached became irrelevant, because on June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Este and his wife Sophie the Duchess of Hohenberg were assassinated by a young Bosnian-Serb nationalist in Sarajevo, Bosnia.
Eva and Adalbert were in Vienna that day staying at the Hotel Kranz across the plaza from the Capuchin Church. Eva photographed and painted the church and noted the date in her sketchbook, “28th June (day of the assassination of the Grand Duke Franz Ferdinand d’Este and his wife) 1914.” A few days later on July 3rd, Eva and Adalbert witnessed the funeral procession that carried Franz Ferdinand and Sophie to the nearby Hofburg Palace for memorial services. The couple’s final resting place, however, would not be in the Habsburg crypt beneath the Capuchin Church that Eva had sketched from her hotel. The Habsburg court’s disdain for Sophie and the couple’s personal wishes complicated interment in the Imperial Crypt. The journey of the coffins, the memorial services, and the disputed burial sites were all fraught with personal and political haggling. Ultimately, Sophie’s brother, leading a group of nobles, diverted the funeral cortègein Vienna and accompanied the bodies to Artstetten Castle where they remain today. Eva and Adalbert, undeterred by these unsettling events and the ensuing anti-Serbian demonstrations, remained at the Hotel Kranz until July 15th.
Leaving Austria, Eva and Adalbert returned to Germany, to Munich, Leipzig, and Hamburg seemingly unconcerned. In reality, July was a month fraught with dangerous political plotting and military maneuvering. The public knew very little of the troubles that were brewing, and as one historian put it, “The plotters went on with their work, silently and hidden from view, while, totally unaware, Europe basked in the sunshine of a lazy summer holiday,” Eva and Adalbert must have felt safe and secure, because they stayed in Germany until the end of July, leaving for home just one week before the Great War started.
Whether by happenstance or intuition, the Fenyeses did cut their vacation short even though they had three very good reasons to stay abroad. First, not far from Vienna was Budapest where they had married and Arad, Hungary, where Adalbert was born. Yet they did not go. Second, Eva carried three letters of introduction which suggest their trip might have extended to Greece, Italy, and Palestine. Hector Alliot, Secretary of the Los Angeles Society of the Archaeological Institute of America presented “Mrs. Eva S. Fenyes of Pasadena, Calif. life member of the A.I.A. and an enthusiastic patron of archeology” to the directors of the American School of Oriental Research at Jerusalem, the American School of Classical Studies at Rome, and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Eva’s penchant for travel and her lifelong interest in archaeology had emerged during her travels as a young girl with her mother and father in Egypt, and those interests never waned. Why would she pass up such an extraordinary opportunity now? And finally, Adalbert’s important entomological manuscript with its carefully drawn and colored beetle illustrations had been delivered to his Brussels’ publisher at the start of their trip. Would he not want to meet with his publisher once more before going home? Instead they quickly traveled through Germany and returned home in late July. Had they sensed the coming conflict? Perhaps they did, but there is no clear evidence for this. It seems more likely that Eva was simply not well enough to continue traveling.
When the Fenyeses returned to Pasadena, Eva made an album of postcards collected during her vacation. Inside the cover she wrote, “Our Short Trip Abroad. I was so ill most of the time that I could not get out to select cards at a merchant’s, but was obliged to purchase what happened to be in the few hotels & galleries we visited; which was very unsatisfactory.” She and Adalbert usually wintered in Pasadena and traveled mid-spring though mid-autumn, so her words imply an abbreviated trip. Whatever the reason for their early return, one month after the assassination of the archduke and his wife, Eva and Adalbert boarded the S.S. Vaterland homeward bound from Hamburg, Germany to New York, New York. There in mid-ocean they heard the news that Austria-Hungary had declared war on Serbia. And so started their worries about Leonora and Babsie who were still on the continent in Switzerland.
Part 3 of “Come Home Instantly!” will follow Leonora and Babsie Curtin as they try to leave Europe during the first months of the Great War that started one hundred years ago this summer.
Julie Stires, Project Archivist
Pasadena Museum of History
470 W. Walnut St., Pasadena CA 91103
 Probably Dr. Arno and Mrs. Eva Behr who are listed in the 1913 Southwestern Blue Book as well as in the 1911 and 1912 Pasadena City Directories as residing at 432 Arlington Drive, Pasadena, California.
 Travel journal of Eva Scott Fenyes, 4 June 1914. FCP Papers, FCP.35.9 vol. 1 p. 025. PMH Archives.
 Travel journal of Eva Scott Fenyes, 4 June 1914. FCP Papers, FCP.35.9 vol. 1 p. 027-028. PMH Archives.
 Travel journal of Eva Scott Fenyes, 6 June 1914. FCP Papers, FCP.35.9 vol. 1 p. 030-031. PMH Archives.
 Barbara Tuchman, The Guns of August (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1962) 74.
 Travel journal of Eva Scott Fenyes, 9 June 1914. FCP Papers, FCP.35.9 vol. 2, p. 011. PMH Archives.
 Sketchbook Volume 11, Eva Scott Fenyes. FCP Papers, ESF.011.2864. PMH Archives.
 David Fromkin, Europe’s Last Summer: Who Started the Great War in 1914? (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004) 144-5.
 “Austria Mourns at Royal Funeral,” New York Times, 4 July 1914.
 David Fromkin, Europe’s Last Summer: Who Started the Great War in 1914? (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004) 171.
 Letters of Introduction, Hector Alliot to: James A. Montgomery, 20 April 1914; The Director, 21 April 1914; William Scott Ferguson, 24 April 1914. FCP Papers, FCP.34.1, PMH Archives.
 Postcard Album of Eva Scott Fenyes. FCP Papers, FCP.51.1, PHM Archives.