Excerpts from Unser Wien – Our Vienna: “Aryanization” Austrian Style

Source: Tina Walzer and Stephan Templ, Unser Wien: “Arisierung” auf österreichisch , Berlin: Aufbau-Verlag, 2001.

A Topography of a Robbery /A Treasure Map to Nazi Loot in Vienna

Sigmund Freud’s flat

Berggasse 19The Freuds lived here for 47 years. They were able to escape the country, as did Sigmund Kornmehl,  who ran a kosher butchershop in the house, and Emil Humburger, an exporter. The neighbors Adolf and Stephanie Mathias and Victor and Antoinette John perished in the camps.

After the Anschluss,  Sigmund Freud’s apartment (No. 5)  was soon occupied by Hertha Pfeifer. In 1986, she recalled:

“My God, the apartment was vacant. We saw that the apartment was vacant. [….] The apartment was completely empty. Completely empty. No one at all was there. That’s how it was then. It was so easy. There was no problem at all.”

In 1986, Herta Pfeifer received 1.5 million shillings (roughly US$ 100, 000 )  for the rented apartment when she handed it over the society that installed the  Sigmund Freud Museum there. Sigmund Freud never received any compensation. For her handsome country house in Hochrotherd, outside Vienna , Anna, Freud’s daughter, received 2,000 schillings (about US$ 135.-) in a post-war settlement with the “Aryanizer”.

Sigmund Freud’s sisters (Rosa Graf, Paula Winternitz, Marie Freud, Freud Adolfine) were deported during the war. None survived.

Literature: Profil 21/ 1989

The Ferris Wheel (page 214):

Owned 1938 by Eduard Steiner (1884 Blatna, Bohemia – 1944 Auschwitz)

The Ferris wheel was taken as loot by Alfons Wilfert (40 per cent), Johann Michna (20 per cent ) Franz Öhlwein (20 per cent), and Josef Oertel (20 per cent ).

Source:

  • FLD 5619
  • HRA 6030
  • HRA 159679
  • HRB  9308

Another Vienna landmark, the Ferris wheel, at the Prater, belonged to Eduard Steiner until 1938. The Ferris wheel was “Aryanized.” Steiner was murdered in Auschwitz. His heirs lived in Prague. To their restitution claim they attached a valid, notarized translation of their Czech certificate of inheritance. Nevertheless, the Provincial Revenue Office demanded that his will should be probated again, this time on “home” turf, in Austria.60 Shortly afterwards, in late February 1948, the Communists took power in Czechoslovakia, and the claimants were no longer able to leave the country and could henceforth pay their lawyer only in Czechoslovak crowns. It now became even harder, almost impossible, for them to pursue their claims.

In the course of the proceedings at the People’s Court of Justice (in which three of the four “Aryanizers” were sentenced) eighty percent of the shares in the Ferris wheel were forfeited to the Republic of Austria. The lawyer of the heirs, Dr. Karl Lamac, under the Second Act on Restitution, sued to have this eighty percent handed over together with the land it was on and the profits earned from it. The Provincial Revenue Office defended itself, saying that although the Republic of Austria had an eighty percent share in the Ferris wheel company (Riesenrad OHG), it was not a co-owner of the Ferris wheel itself and consequently could not be sued for it to be handed over under the Second Act on Restitution.61 For six years, the heirs, living in Communist Prague, fought against the chicanery of the Republic of Austria. They would never see the profits from the Ferris wheel. The Provincial Revenue Office of Vienna commented on it quite unperturbed: the money was simply gone.

“The public administrator [state-appointed trustee] Karl Hauffe, Ing., had registered a claim of 40,000 schillings on the estate of the former public administrator Rudolf Dworaczek,” since this money had been unjustly taken from the coffers of the Ferris wheel company (Prater Riesenrad OHG). Mr. Hauffe, who managed the business on behalf of the State from November 1950 to 15 June 1953, had also embezzled a sum of 25,000 schillings and, in addition, unjustly withdrew a sum of about 50,000 schillings, which is why he was being held in remand.”

Endnotes

(ÖStA = Austrian State Archive; FLD = Provincial Revenue Office)

  • 60 ÖStA, AdR 06, FLD 5619 fol. 9. The Provincial Revenue Office for Vienna to the lawyer Karl Lamac concerning restitution on the basis of an Austrian court certificate of inheritance, 5 December 1950.
  • 61 ÖStA, AdR 06, FLD 5619 unfol. Decision of the Provincial Revenue Office for Vienna, concerning the dismissal of a restitution claim to an 80 percent share in the Ferris wheel company (Riesenrad OHG), 17 June 1952.
  • 62 ÖStA, AdR 06, FLD 5619 fol. 87f. A ruling on an appeal, made by the Provincial Revenue Office for Vienna, concerning the restitution of profits, taken from Eduard Steiner, of the company run by Ferris wheel company (Riesenrad OHG), under the Second Restitution Act, 19 August 1953.

Rudolf Leopold, collector of looted art

Cobenzlgasse 16 , Döbling, the 19th district of Vienna

In 1938, the property of Otto and Irene Klein.

Looted by  Rudolf Leopold, Juliane Leopold, Karl Eckling, and Maria Eckling

The son of the “Aryanizer” Rudolf Leopold Sr.  (1898–1980),  Rudolf Leopold Jr., (1925– 2010) bought and sold looted art. In an Austrian daily newspaper, he was called  a “collector of looted art”. His collection, comprising 5,265 items, primarily works of Viennese Modernism (by Schiele, Klimt, Gerstl, and many others), was bought by the Republic of Austria in 1994. Since 2001, the collection has been shown in the Leopold Museum (http://www.leopoldmuseum.org/en).
The stolen house at Cobenzlgasse 16 became the headquarters of the local Nazi Party organization (Ortsstelle Grinzing).

The Klein family, who owned the well-known tailor shop Heinrich Grünbaum on the Graben, No. 26, Vienna, escaped in 1939 to Australia.

Source:

  • Grundbuch (land registry) EZ 709 Grinzing
  • VVSt 24855 (Irene Klein)
  • VVSt   24188 (Otto Klein)
  • FLD  52

Hotel Imperial

Kärntner Ring 16

Built in 1862–65  as a palais for Duke Philipp of Württemberg in the style of the Italian Renaissance.  Adapted as a hotel for the 1873 World’s Fair.

On 14 March 1938, Hitler rented apartment no. 103.

On 21 March 1938, the names of the “Jewish” members of the Board – Leopold Langer (chairman), Paul Abel (lawyer), Samuel Schallinger (Kommerzialrat), and Heinrich Löwinger (Kommerzialrat) – were deleted from the commercial register. And the names of the new, “Aryan” board members Friedrich von Schoeller, Ernst Hoffmann (Lawyer), Hermann Klimpfinger, and Günther Rustler – were entered.

Samuel Schallinger (born in Brno, Moravia, in 1867) was deported in 1942, and did not survive internment in the Theresienstadt ghetto.

Source

  • VVSt 46185
  • B 4, 87

Adolf Schärf, President of Austria

The President of Austria from 1957 to 1965,  and leader of the Socialist Party of Austria, Adolf Scharf (1890–1965), “moved” with his family into the home of his fugitive lawyer and colleague, Arnold Eisler, at Skodagasse 1, in the autumn of 1938, just months Hitler marched into Vienna.  A marble plaque on the facade of the house reads: “Adolf Schärf, an architect of the new democratic Austria, lived here from 1938 to 1965 “. Schärf  “took over” the firm of Dr. Eisler, though not his  clients, for Schärf had a very different clientele, including the SS Untersturmführer Erich Loos in his efforts to “aryanize”  the house at Schüttelstraße 19a, Vienna.
After the war, Schärf  was, among other things, vehemently opposed to his former  members returning to Austria,  , for instance former client Hugo Breitner, into the Socialist Party. Nor did Arnold Eisler return. Remaining in the United States, he was, true to his principles, Chairman of the Socialists of Austria. In 1957, Schärf ran for the office of President of Austria. In order to get the votes of former Nazis, he used the rhyming slogan “Wer einmal schon für Adolf war, wählt Adolf auch in diesem Jahr” (Who ever was once for Adolf will vote for him again this year).

Source: VVSt 13437 Va (Eisler)

Literature: Adolf Schärf, Erinnerungen aus meinem Leben (Memoirs), 1963

Franz Vranitzky, Prime Minister

Freyung 2

Normalia – Orthopädische Heilbehelfe (Normalia – Orthopedic Medical Aids)

Whenever he was on his 1,600-hectare “aryanised” estate, Jörg Haider, a two-time Governor of Carinthia, pointed to the “aryanization” case  in the family of the then Chancellor Franz Vraniztky. The “aryanizer” Karl Clemens Kristen was the father of Mrs. Christine Vranitzky, the wife of the former chancellor.  She still has a share in the Normalia company, which was not returned to the heirs of the Fürth family under restitution legislation nor was any compensation offered.
The purchase price was set at 3,220 Reichsmark in 1938 to be paid into an escrow account under the name of Ernst Israel Fürth. The price was equal to one month’s net profits of Normalia.

Owner 1938: Ernst and Fanny Fürth

Profiteer: Karl Clemens Kristen

Source:

  • VVSt 43410
  • VVSt 73 Gewerbe
  • HRA 7559
  • HRB 6856

Normalia – Ortopädische Heilbehelfe

  Karl Böhm, conductor

Sternwartestrasse 70, Villa Gessner

Hubert Gessner , who worked in the practice of Otto Wagner, was the main architect of “Red Vienna”. He designed this palazzo-style house for himself. The world-famous conductor Karl Böhm, who once said “As long as a single Jew still lives in the Ostmark, I won’t pick up my conductor’s baton” (Solange noch ein Jude in der Ostmark lebt, werde ich nicht zum Taktstock greifen”) aryanized the house in 1942.

Owner 1938: Paul Regenstreif

Profiteer: Karl and Thea Böhm

Source:

  • Grundbuch (land registry) EZ 2318 Währing
  • VVSt 30286 Va
  • FLD 17401

Franz “Ferry” Dusika

Ferry Dusika (1908–1984) was Austria’s most successful cyclist in the 1930s. Already an “underground” Nazi, Dusika “aryanized” the bicycle business of Adolf Blum, in Brünner Straße 45, in 1938.  Dusika also tried to “aryanize” the companies of Walter Liechtenstern, in Währingerstrasse 106, and the one of Risa Mohr, in Meidlinger Hauptstrasse 20 (both selling radios), the company of Walter Mandl, in Klosterneuburgerstrasse 22,  and the shoemaker’s shop of Naftali Pluznik, in Kleine Sperlgasse 8.

Austria’s biggest indoor arena (for track cycling, tennis, and athletics, is named after Ferry Dusika. 

The fate of the art collection of the industrialist Rudolf Kraus

(1872 Jičin, Bohemia – 1943 Auschwitz)

The writer Karl Kraus had several brothers, all of whom were successful industrialists, financial backers of Kraus’s literary work, and clients of the architect Adolf Loos. A large part of the Kraus family died in Nazi concentration camps. After the war, the survivors sought restitution of a painting by Georg Ferdinand Waldmüller (1793–1865), an important Biedermayer painter. They ran up against the open resistance of the Austrian financial offices. Not until they had bought their property back from the Austrian Republic at the current market price  could they again take possession of it. The bureaucrats had acted properly and conscientiously – with maximum loyalty to the authorities. In the restitution case of Helene Schanz and Francis H. Kraus it was found that “under Article 276 of the Civil Code a trusteeship would be established for the German Reich and Dr. Anton Z.  […] to protect the interests of the absent party concerning the restitution of a painting […] assigned to the trustee who was to represent the absent party until he himself [the absent party] or someone with his power of attorney appeared again.”16 In 1950, were these authorities really waiting for the restoration of the German Reich? Rudolf Kraus owned the painting The Geymüller Family in the Park. He gave it to a certain Hermann Flürschein for safekeeping, but Flürschein sold the picture in 1939 to the art dealer August Eymer. Rudolf Kraus did not recognize the sale as legitimate. But that was of little use to Kraus. The painting was sold again. This time by Eymer to the Galerie Halberstock in Berlin, and from there to the Führer Museum, in Linz.17

After the war, the painting was placed in the custody of the Austrian Republic. Absurdly, in the restitution proceedings people who were once persecuted had now to demonstrate that the German Reich, the buyer for Hitler’s Museum, had not been a bonafide purchaser. Since the Krauses could not deliver the demanded documents, the competent court refused restitution three years later. Only after another seven years of fighting against this Austrian legal standpoint could the heirs take possession of the painting, but first the Republic of Austria forced them to a settlement: within three weeks they had to deposit 60,000 schillings in an account called “The Forfeiture of Adolf Hitler’s Assets; the Restitution Case of Rudolf Kraus’s Heirs, and the Settlement Amount.” That was in 1960.

Endnotes

  • (ÖStA = Austrian State Archive; FLD = Provincial Revenue Office; BDA = Austrian Federal Office for the Care of Monuments)
  • 15 See Walzer, Kraus, p. 186f. Tina Walzer, “Die Familie Kraus. Stammbaum,” in Heinz Lunzer, Viktoria Lunzer-Talos, and Marcus G. Patka (eds.), Jüdisches Museum der Stadt Wien Ausstellung 23. Juni–1. November 1999, Vienna, 1999, pp. 186ff.
  • 16 ÖStA, AdR 06, FLD, 3682/2, fol. 146. Decision of the Circuit Court for Vienna I, Department 12, concerning the appointment of a trustee for the German Reich, 13 March 1950. Emphasis added by Tina Walzer.
  • 17 ÖStA, AdR 06, FLD, 3682/2, fol. 2. The lawyer Emil N. to the Restitution Commission at the Regional Court for Civil Cases in Vienna, Restitution claim against the German Reich, 24 March 1950.
  • 18 ÖStA, AdR 06, FLD, 3682/2, fol. 30. Acknowledgment from the Restitution Commission, 19 March 1953.
  • 19 BDA, Restitution, Karton 3, Mappe Kraus-Schanz, Helene, fol. 9 Docket, National Office of Monument Preservation, 16 May 1960.