Top photo: ©Foto: Roland Mühlanger / www.muehlanger.at
The Austrian Press and Information Service in the United States mourns the loss of one of its founding fathers. Fritz Molden, Austrian patriot, diplomat, iconic publisher and newspaperman passed away on January 11, 2014. He was the co-founder of this publication and of the Austrian Information Service in the United States. Born in Vienna in 1924, Molden participated in events against the National Socialists at the early age of 14, and was actively engaged in the resistance against the NS-regime, and ultimately became an intermediary between the Austrian resistance movement O5 and the Allied forces. He deserted the Wehrmacht, joined the Italian partisans, and acted as a liaison between the Austrian resistance and the Americans. After the end of World War II, in 1945, Molden became press secretary to foreign minister Karl Gruber, whom he already knew from the Tyrolean resistance.
One year later, he began to work as a foreign editor of the daily newspaper Die Presse, which his father, Ernst Molden, had re-established after the war. In 1948, foreign minister Gruber asked Molden if he would be available to head a newly established Austrian Information Service in the United States, to be located in New York City. In the light of the coming Marshall Plan and Austria’s past in the Third Reich, the foreign ministry felt it was important to better inform Americans about Austria and establish an Information Service in New York. This effort would also include a monthly publication, Austrian Information. Fritz Molden arrived in New York City in August of 1948 with his wife Joan Dulles, daughter of Allen Dulles, and went to work with his colleagues Martin Fuchs, an experienced diplomat and former member of the Austrian freedom movement, and Herta Freundlich, an Austrian immigrant. According to Molden, “it took a considerable amount of work to convince people that they could trust the new Austrian representation.”
Molden travelled throughout the United States to engage with Austrian expats and to reach out to people outside of New York, delivering lectures, distributing information, and engaging in conversation. In 1949, Molden published his first book, Austria: A Summary in Facts and Figures, and many more would follow during his long career as a publisher. In 1951, Molden assumed the role of publisher of Die Presse; by 1958 he would have risen to be Austria’s largest and most important newspaper publisher. In 1964, he also tended to publishing books and founded the Fritz Molden publishing house. With Fritz Molden’s passing, this office has lost a father figure, and Austria has lost a great patriot and one of its quintessential publishers.