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Gustave de Fer à Paris !! (1928)

found on http://www.time.com


The Time - Monday, jun. 18, 1928

With dubious incredulity and then with exhilaration Germans learned, last week, that in Paris students of the Latin Quarter were rushing up and down the Grands Boulevards shouting and successfully inciting passersby to shout, "Vive L'Alle-magne!" (Long Live Germany!)
Astounding, the news of these shouts spurred the German press to put forth special edition after special edition. Almost proven was the cynical theory that all Germans, from Friedrich the Great down, have nurtured a suppressed desire to be understood and warmly approved by choosey Frenchmen.
Last week the focus of this ebullient international incident was a Berlin cab driver, "Iron Gustav" Hartmann, 69. Clad in a neat navy blue great coat, beaming behind his reddish beard, and nursing a fat cigar, "Iron Gustav" rode triumphantly up the Champs Elysees, acknowledging the chorus of perhaps ironic "Vives!" with stately bows and majestic flourishings of his high, white stovepipe hat.
Two months ago Cabby Hartmann, who once owned a prosperous livery stable, found himself and wife reduced to penury and possessed of no business capital except a 35-year-old cab and Grassmus, his 13-year-old nag. Desperate, "Iron Gustav" resolved to recoup his fortunes by setting out for Paris, a 665-mile drive, selling postcards to the curious along the way, and displaying a sign which read:
"Berlin—Paris by the oldest hackman of Wannsee [a Berlin suburb], who had the honor of making his last voyage in Fiacre 120 from Berlin to Paris because horses are destined to extinction."
Other old men have performed stunts to sell postcards. But here and there an old man or a young is destined to seem to everyone especially nice. By the time he reached Paris, last week, "Iron Gustav" Hartmann seemed as nice as "Trader Horn," with just a dash of Lindbergh.
Joyously the Latin Quarter students, who make it a prankish point to always use fiacres instead of taxis, assembled 39 of their favorite and seediest cab drivers at the Porte de Pantin, to greet jovial Red Beard Hartmann when he drove in last week. For the rest, Tout Paris is ever ready to join in good-humored shouts at a spectacle so nice as a parade of 40 old men and 40 old nags up the Champs Elysees and on to the Eiffel Tower.
How deeply the hearts of Frenchmen were really stirred was shown, when "Iron Gustav" voiced a modest request to be received by Prime Minister Raymond Poincare—a request which was totally ignored.
Only Germans took the affair to heart. Cabby Hartmann was royally banqueted at the German Embassy in Paris. In Berlin the Tagliche-Rundschau, organ of the Nobel Peace Prize Winner Dr. Gustav Streseman, famed German Foreign Minister, declared: "The common people of France no longer feel that animosity toward Germans so long and artificially promoted by [French] politicians and the press." Observers who know the tenacious French mentality in regions which have been devastated by tramping Teutons were unimpressed. But enough postcards have been sold (50,000) and enough more will be sold to enable Cabby Hartmann to retire in comfort after he has driven back to Berlin. A good, plain, honest man, he wrote to his wife, last week,
"Send me some of our black bread. This white French bread makes me sick."


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