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wednesdays 36

Az W Theme Evening ’Arianisation’ and Restitution in Vienna, Part 2

Wed 11.12.2002, 17:30-00:00

Due to the high density of the `arianised’ buildings, on a second tour we shall be going from the area around Naschmarkt and Operngasse in the direction of Opernring.
Guide: Stephan Templ

Station 1
Former Café Dobner
Naschmarkt home to the literati. Its proprietor was Johanna Medak, who died at Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1943. The premises were taken over (’arianised’) by Robert Püringer, holder of the Blutorden. Apparently completely impoverished after 1945, he had to hand the café back to Medak’s heirs; he did not have to pay back any proceeds from the business.

Station 2
Freihausgründe
The property developer and owner was Oskar Poeller, who had been active as an investor in Berlin until 1933. In the years 1935-38 he had the Bärenmühle built by the ’Red Vienna’ architects Schmied and Aichinger and the block behind it by the star architect of Austro-facism, Clemens Holzmeister. An interesting combination. Poeller died in France, his wife and daughter in Auschwitz, the property has only partly been returned to its rightful owners. We shall be having a look in the centrally heated stairwells; the quality of the fittings is unique in Vienna.

Porr Haus
Otokar Stern, a building tycoon of his age, 13% share-holder in the Porr-Baugesellschaft along with Siegfried Pick and Adelheid Stern.

Station 3
Schikanederkino (Cinema)
One of 80 cinemas to have been ’arianised’. The empty space itself was given back but not the license, which was in the hands of the municipal KIBA.

Station 4
Mühlgasse Ehrbar Säle (’Ehrbar Halls’)
The Gestapo-favoured lawyer Stefan Lehner ’arianised’ the property at Mühlgasse 28 + 30. A significant Vienna concert hall was and is housed here. The owner until 1938 was Kurt Steinitz, a jeweller. He fled to South America.
The house next door belonged to the Flamm family. ’Arianiser’: Countess Maria Gudenus.

Station 5
29 Rechte Wienzeile
Fritz Grünbaum’s residence
The caberet artist Fritz Grünbaum lived here until his ill-fated flight to Czechoslovakia on 11.3.1938. Grünbaum’s exceptional art collection was also housed here, parts of which are in the Leopold Museum today.

Station 6
Naschmarkt
About a third of the stalls were ’arianised’ – i.e. approximately 300. None were returned to their original owners. Replacements were offered at best, but only if the applicant for restitution could prove residence in Vienna.

Station 7
34 Linke Wienzeile
Home of the writer Hermann Broch. In 1941 it became the property of the German Reich in accordance with the 11th statute of the ’Reichbürgergesetz’ (Citizen’s of the Reich Law). An example of how corrupt the Finanzlandesdirektion (local finance authorities) was.

Station 8
4 Laimgrubengasse
Home of the architect Higo Gorge; disappropriation – the German Reich – restitution by the Finanzlandesdirektion.

Station 9
36 Linke Wienzeile
Home of Leon von Wernburg. ’Arianised’ by the Diocese of St. Pölten. Restitution process begun, then cancelled. There was probably a settlement of some kind. No records extant as all restitution records for Vienna were cleared away in 1986.

Station 10
40 Linke Wienzeile
Otto Wagner’s Majolika Haus. A building to be found in every Vienna prospectus. In 1938 it was the property of Willhelm Frankl. He was dispossessed (due to “signs of paranoia”). His entire possessions were sold off by an executor. The Majolika Haus went to the Wöber family, abattoir owners. No restitution. The Wöbers were childless and left it to the church.

Station 11
Am Naschmarkt Apotheke (Chemist’s)
The chemist’s was the property of Julius Becker until 1938. The SS, in the person of Otto Ehrmann, forced him to leave in April 1938 and to sign over the deeds. Becker shot himself on the same day. After 1945 Ehrmann borrowed a great deal of money on the property. The restitution commission decided to return the chemist’s to Becker’s widow – who has to pay off Ehrmann’s debts.

Station 12
Witte – ’Special Aryan House’
Witte was already called an ’Arisches Spezialhaus’ (see above) in 1937. In 1938 the company Schönherz had its machinery confiscated. The machinery is still to be found in the shop.

Station 13
Theater an der Wien
The theatre belonged to the Marischka family until 1940. The City of Vienna forced them to sell up. Whether they were Jewish or not cannot be ascertained from the records. Restitution of the theatre in 1955. The theatre’s director had had his last season by May 1938. He emigrated.

4 Wienzeile, The Wienzeilenkino
Charlotte Hager’s property was ’arianised’ by the famous photographer Lothar Rübelt.

Station 14
Haus Bloch-Bauer, 18 Elisabethstrasse
The ’sugar baron’ Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer housed his legendary art collection here. His descendants have been fighting for the restitution of this collection for over 50 years. Some of the estate has been returned, although the most valuable exponents (5 paintings by Klimt) are still in the possession of the Österreichische Galerie.

Station 15
The Rudolf Kraus Apartment Block
The industrialist Rudolf Kraus (brother of the writer Karl Kraus) had the building at 13 Nibelungengasse adapted by Adolf Loos. Rudolf Kraus and his wife Anna Maria Marianne both died in Auschwitz. The building was ’arianised’ by the Siemens-Schucker works and never returned.