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This world is reflected most convincingly in the minds that it produced, whose curriculum vitae closely resembles that of Peter Drucker. The fall of the Austro-
Hungarian Empire in 1918, Bolshevism in Russia, the Nazi period in Germany, this “volcanic tremor across our European earth,” as Stefan Zweig calls it, uprooted, an entire generation while simultaneously releasing tremendous creativity. Stefan Zweig first emigrated to England and later journeyed to Brazil. The philosopher Karl Popper, born in Vienna in 1902, wrote his main work, “The Open Society and Its Enemies” during the Second World War while in exile in New Zealand and returned later to England.4 The path of the mathematician John von Neumann (1903-1957), to whom we owe the development of game theory and the computer, led him from Budapest via Germany to Princeton, U.S.A. The writer-philosopher Elias Canetti (1905-1997) made his way to England and later to Switzerland.5 The science journalist, Artur Koestler (1905-1983), born in Budapest, lived a restless life in Israel, Germany, Russia, France, Spain, and finally England. Ernst Gombrich (1909-2001), world famous art historian, was born in Vienna in the same year as Drucker. Written in England, his voluminous work “The Story of Art”6 (688 pages!) sold more than six million copies. This group could also be extended to include the sociologist Norbert Elias (1897-1990),7 who was born in Breslau and whose path led him to Paris, England, Amsterdam, and Bielefeld, where I met him at the age of 90. Karol Woytila from Krakau, Poland, better known as Pope John Paul II, is also a child of this unusually fertile cultural ground: he speaks ten languages. Peter Drucker’s life fits well into this exceptional group: Vienna, Hamburg, Frankfurt, England, and America.
4 Karl Popper, Die offene Gesellschaft und ihre Feinde, Stuttgart: UTB 1992.
5 Elias Canetti, Die gerettete Zunge, Munich: Carl Hanser 1977.
6 Ernst Gombrich, The Story of Art, 16th edition, London: Phaidon Press 1995. First edition published in 1950.
7 Norbert Elias, Der Prozess der Zivilisation, Bern: Francke 1969.