International AP Correspondent Hanns Neuerbourg Dies at 88

By: Hanns Neuerbourg, a roving Associated Press correspondent in eastern Europe who also covered the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and interviewed Elvis Presley, has died in Switzerland. He was 88.

Neuerbourg, who was born in Germany, had moved to the northern Swiss city of Stein following his retirement from the AP in 1991. He died Saturday in a nearby hospital where he was undergoing treatment for lung cancer, said his friend, Barbara Hespe.

Neuerbourg covered the 1967 war between Israel and Arab forces in the Middle East, reporting from Jordan and Egypt, and the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia. He was in Geneva when the Soviets invaded and he had to make several attempts to enter Czechoslovakia from Germany before finally finding a way in through Austria.

He was briefly bureau chief in Cairo until he was expelled for breaking the news that the Soviet Union was rearming Egypt.

As Geneva bureau chief, Neuerbourg covered disarmament, the Afghan talks and other issues and he also continued his interviews with a number of personalities, including violinist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin and pianist Arthur Rubinstein.

He was impressed with how down-to-earth Presley was when he interviewed him in his villa while Presley was on Army duty in Germany in the late 1950s. And Elvis vehemently rejected his commander's suggestion that he extend his tour of duty. He said his father and manager wouldn't stand for it.

Even after Neuerbourg retired, he went to Sarajevo for Switzerland's Neue Zuercher Zeitung and he continued writing for the AP until several months ago, producing well-researched pieces on art and on the 500th birthday of Geneva religious reformer John Calvin.

Neuerbourg began working in journalism for the Neue Zeitung, the Allied occupation military newspaper in Germany after World War II, and was hired by the AP in 1948 because of his scoops, including a forecast of the Berlin airlift.

Among his coups for the AP was a telephone interview with Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, getting the German leader to confirm that he was planning to rearm the country so he could fulfill the wishes of the Americans to provide another ally.

Neuerbourg soon switched to the English-language side of the operation and began getting assignments outside of Germany.

Neuerbourg was born into a family of industrialists with an anti-Nazi background in Luedenscheid, but served in the German military in Russia and Italy.

He didn't learn of the Nazi atrocities to the Jews until 1942, when he heard in the Crimea from a fellow soldier that he understood Germans had just machine-gunned many Jewish men, women and children.

"I didn't believe it at first," Neuerbourg said.

It was confirmed to him the next day by a soldier who had participated.

"It has been on my mind ever since," Neuerbourg told the AP in a recent interview.

"I decided I had to leave Russia as soon as possible," Neuerbourg said. "After two months, I developed yellow jaundice. I was absolutely euphoric."

The Germans feared an epidemic and sent him home.

When he recovered, he was assigned to the Afrika Korps, but was assigned to Italy because the Allies had taken control of North Africa.

He then caught tuberculosis and spent more time at home before returning to Italy, where he was captured by the Americans and found his language skills - he knew Italian, English, Russian and French - put him in line for independent translating jobs.

Neuerbourg developed an interest in a journalism career at 15 when his father subscribed to an English and a French newspaper for him.

"I always wanted to be a journalist," he said.

Neuerbourg is survived by a daughter, Stephanie Aerni-Neuerbourg. Funeral arrangements were incomplete.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here