Does heaven exist? With well over 100,000 plus recorded and described spiritual experiences collected over 15 years, to base the answer on, science can now categorically say yes. Furthermore, you can see the evidence for free on the website allaboutheaven.org.

Available on Amazon
also on all local Amazon sites, just change .com for the local version (.co.uk, .jp, .nl, .de, .fr etc.)


This book, which covers Visions and hallucinations, explains what causes them and summarises how many hallucinations have been caused by each event or activity. It also provides specific help with questions people have asked us, such as ‘Is my medication giving me hallucinations?’.

Available on Amazon
also on all local Amazon sites, just change .com for the local version (.co.uk, .jp, .nl, .de, .fr etc.)

Sources returnpage

Polgar, Alfred

Category: Writer

Alfred Polgar (originally: Alfred Polak, pseudonyms: Archibald Douglas, L. A. Terne; 17 October 1873, Vienna – 24 April 1955, Zürich) was an Austrian-born journalist, a theatre critic and essayist, one of the most renowned intellectuals of the Vienna coffeehouses. He lived in New York during the second World War.  Marlene Dietrich wanted Polgar to write her biography. 

Why is he on the site? 

Polger was a shy, unassuming and egoless man, traumatised by his experiences in the War, but who was fired with wisdom. 

After the war Polger returned to Europe, but became virtually unknown and his writing does deserve to be revived, but with care – as he said: “My spiritual handwriting can’t be translated.

It is best never to have been born. But who among us has such luck? One in a million, perhaps.

We will be using some extracts from Clive James’ Cultural Amnesia, a re-examination of intellectuals, artists, and thinkers who helped shape the 20th century. Polger’s influence was often expressed using witty and sometimes funny ‘quotes’.  Simple sentences that were designed to make you think.  We have only one quote from him as an observation, but it is a stunner. 

“The striking aphorism requires a stricken aphorist.”


Polgar’s best work is to be found in his essays, short articles and critical reviews. 

Alfred Polgar - Clive James

A single dull page would have been a relief, but there wasn’t one.

Critical reviews

It was because of his admiration for competent practitioners that Polgar assaulted the incompetent. He could be hilarious while doing so, but never to the point of ridicule or cruelty. Lesser critics look for opportunities to pour on the scorn. Polgar didn’t. When forced to the issue, however, he left no man standing. Hear him on Pygmalion:
 “A comedy about a man who turns a girl into a lady, but in doing so overlooks the woman.”


“Many attempt without success to make up for their lack of talent with defects of character.”

 “A commonplace soul is often uncommonly spirited. But dreck is still dreck, even when phosphorescent.”

He said of Man and Superman:
“[T]he audience gets an exhausting idea of the inexhaustibility of the subject, and is bored brilliantly.”

Of a young actress:
“She is pretty, and tactfully concerned that the optical pleasure she provides shall not be disturbed by technical requirements any more than necessary.”

Of a bad playwright:
 “Saying nothing is the mother tongue of his art.”

Year upon year, Polgar would track every production of plays by Shakespeare, Ibsen, Shaw, Hauptmann, Pirandello. His sequence of essays on Ibsen leaves Shaw’s equivalent effort looking thin. Thomas Mann said Polgar’s prose was marked by a lightness that plumbed the depths.


Alfred Polgar - Clive James

In his home ground, Polgar had made German the ideal instrument for a body of prose so charged with the precision of poetry that it gives a picture of his era no other writer could match for wealth of registered detail and subtlety of argument.
His every essay forms a rhythmic unit from start to finish:
Most of his best effects were achieved with nothing more than a subtle shift against a prepared expectation. Sometimes you can barely hear the swerve.
To reform an evildoer, you must before anything else help him to an awareness that what he did was evil. With the Nazis this won’t be easy. They know exactly what they’re doing: they just can’t imagine it.
Drawn with a single calligraphic stroke from a fine brush, the distinction between knowing and imagining was crucial to him.


Between 1908 and 1910 Polgar wrote sketches for the Jugendstil cabaret Die Fledermaus together with Egon Friedell .  Polgar’s pieces include Goethe. Eine Groteske in zwei Bildern – a satire on the mindless learning of factual information, a subject dear to our heart on this website and explored more in Home Schooling.  As well as Der Petroleumkönig oder Donauwalzer, and Soldatenleben im Frieden.


His first book, entitled Der Quell des Übels appeared in 1908.

Polgar was a great admirer of Marlene Dietrich. They made friends, traveled together, stayed in Berlin's Hotel Eden, wrote letters.
Even before Polgar had to flee from the Nazis in 1938, he was said to have devoted a 'wonderfully delicate book' to the diva, which 'captured her special aura like hardly any other'. Her sex appeal, was for Polgar 'less revelation and more mystery'.  It was thought for over 75 years that the manuscript of this book had disappeared [if it ever existed at all], however, according to the publisher, 'the long-lost manuscript has appeared'.  It is called very simply Marlene.

He also edited and translated plays by playwrights such as Nestroy.


Alfred Polgar was born Alfred Polak on October 17, 1873 in the Leopoldstadt district in Vienna. His Jewish parents, Henriette and Josef, owned a piano school, and he was the youngest of three children. Polgar attended business school and became a member of the editorial staff of the Wiener Allgemeine Zeitung.
He first covered court as well as parliamentary issues until he moved to the culture section covering the literary, musical, and theatrical scene in Vienna. It was for this paper he became a theatre critic and a feuilleton writer.

Beginning in 1905, Polgar was a frequent editor of Siegfried Jacobsohn’s newspaper Die Schaubühne. Due to his brilliant style of writing he attracted many admirers – Musil, Benjamin, and Tucholsky.   He was a frequent visitor of Café Central where he belonged to the group Jung Wien.

During World War I Polgar worked in the war archives while still writing theater reviews. In 1914, he changed his name from Polak to Polgar.  After the war, he became director of the culture section of the newly founded newspaper Der neue Tag and in the mid 1920's started writing for the renowned Berliner Tagblatt.   He married Elise Loewy in 1929 and returned to Vienna in 1933.

Alfred Polgar - Clive James

In 1927, his success as a writer of reviews, essays, and articles took him to Berlin, and in 1933, the success of the Nazis almost deprived him of his life. He escaped Germany the day before he was scheduled to be arrested. As a journalist dependent on the size of his audience, Polgar still had outlets in Vienna, Zurich, and Prague, but his position steadily became more desperate. “I love life and I would never willingly leave it,” he told a friend, “but it is leaving me.” In 1938, he left Vienna on the night train to Zurich only a day before the Anschluss. Luckily, he was able to follow the exile trail—Prague, Paris, Spain—all the way to America, although he knew before he got there that he was ill-equipped to flourish.

United States

Polger first went to Paris, and later, on foot, to the Portuguese border from where he emigrated to the US. He went to Hollywood to work for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as a script writer and was given a one-year contract. In 1943, he moved to New York and became a US citizen in 1945.

Alfred Polgar - Clive James

When the New Hellas left Portugal for New York on Oct. 4, 1940, among the passengers were Heinrich Mann, Golo Mann, Franz and Alma Werfel [right], and Alfred Polgar. It was a convocation of the talents, but it is fair to say that even the imperious Alma, who had been loved by every important man in Vienna, knew which among her attendant male companions on the ship of the saved had a gift from heaven.
On the American market, his approach to writing would have been useless even if it had not been confined to the German language, because it was also confined to German-speaking society: His prose and its subject matter were aspects of each other. In Hollywood, he was a beneficiary of the MGM program that paid refugee writers for screenplays that would never be filmed. Well aware that this was tantamount to being given a free ticket to a soup kitchen, he was ashamed to take the money, but he had no choice. He was no longer young enough to master English in the way he had mastered his mother tongue. … when he went into exile he was already 65.
“It is the destiny of the emigrant that the foreign land does not become his homeland: his homeland becomes foreign.”

Polger - Hollywood a paradise over whose door is written, “Abandon hope.”

Back to Europe

In 1949, Polgar returned, at the age of 76, to Europe. Since he refused to go back to Vienna which had supported Hitler so fervently, he settled down in Zurich and wrote for several newspapers.  But he was never again the force he had once been.

Alfred Polgar - Clive James

Polgar died in Zurich in 1955, with his immortality already established by a whole constellation of kleine Schriften (small writings) that Marcel Reich-Ranicki rightly defined as “an immaculate unification of tact and intellect, conscience and taste.

Polgar loved to write about the allegedly trivial, about everyday life. He liked to write about the man on the street. A humble gentle man, he has left us a legacy of prose that deserves better study. 

Polgar died at the age of 82 on April 24 in a hotel room in Zurich.


As far as we know there are no English translations of Polgar's work, principally because it somewhat defies translation. "He wrote a sharp, aphoristic German".   Yet his writing remains compelling. As one reviewer has said "To approach his work even with a halting understanding of German, is to be drawn into an attempt – dictionary in hand – to get closer to the words he wrote and his sense of the world he lived in."

In his ‘Theory of the Cafe Central’ for example, he explains that the Cafe Central, one of the writers’ cafes in Habsburg Vienna,   “… lies on the meridian of solitude, at the very particular latitude of Vienna. Its occupants are for the most part people whose enmity to humanity as a whole is only equalled by their desire to be with people who, like them, wish only to be alone, but require company to realise that wish”.


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