When music and politics collide.

Vienna Philharmonic

Music is one of my biggest passions, it has helped mte through many tragedies in my life and it still plays a very important part in my life.

Something that worries me is when music is used for political reasons or when musicians make political statements. They are of course entitled to have political views but they have to remember that they are on a platform, where they can reach many of their fans. They have to be very careful in relation to what political ideology they subscribe. Mostly they mean well and want to use the influence they have to get a message across, but it can backfire on them and it may actually damage their careers. They could even be accused of hypocrisy . I remember a few years ago a well known rock star decided not to have a concert in a city in the US because they could not provide all facilities requested by the LGBT community. However this same rock star had no difficulties touring in countries where gay men were executed for having sexual relations with other men.

Throughout history there have been cases where politics were used to influence music and vice versa with devastating effect.

On 23 March 1938, the violinist Viktor Robitsek received a notification from the management of the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra, telling him he was fired. viktorThis was not because he was a bad violinist, in fact he was one of the best in Austria, he was fired for being Jewish. He had served 35 years with the Orchestra devoting his life to his art and the orchestra.

He had Joined the Vienna Court Opera Orchestra and Vienna Philharmonic on November 11, 1902. On Mar 23, 1938 he was told that his services were no longer required. Discarded as a disposable piece of material.

Robitsek was Deported on October 28, 1941 together with his wife, Elsa Robitsek), from Vienna to Litzmannstadt, where he was murdered on June 1942.

On March 12,1938 11 days before Robitsek was sacked from the orchestra er Hitler’s troops  had  marched in to Austria and were  met with no resistance, The Anschluss was welcomed by most Austrians.

anschluss

Many already had become members of the Nazi party, among them a few dozen musicians of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

Viktor Rubinek was not the only Jewish musician to be fired, most of the  Jewish musicians were sacked from the orchestra.

A total of seven members of the Philharmonic were killed,

Murdered after Deportation:

1. Moriz Glattauer (Violin I)
2. Viktor Robitsek (Violin II)
3. Max Starkmann (Violin I, Viola)
4. Julius Stwertka (Concertmaster, Violin I)
5. Armin Tyroler (Oboe II)

Philharmonic Members who died in Vienna:
6. Anton Weiss (Violin I, section leader)
7. Paul Fischer (Violin I)

In 1938, thirteen active musicians were expelled from the Association of the Vienna
Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera Orchestra. Three additional retired members of the Philharmonic also fell victim to the Holocaust.

The violinist Moriz Glattauer was deported together with his wife, Anna, to Theresienstadt on July 14, 1942. He died there on February 2, 1943. His wife Anna Glattauer was transferred to Auschwitz on May 15, 1944 although it is not entirely clear how she died, she more then llikely was killed in the Gas chambers.

None of the fellow musicians did anything to safe their colleagues, some whom they had performed with for decades,instead they signed up to the Nazi political ideology. They had allowed their music to collide with politics, Not only had this evil infiltrated this evil their lives it alsi tainted their art forever.

 

The Vienna Philharmonic orchestra is just one example but there were many other orchestras and musical institutions across the world  who treated their Jewish colleagues in a similar way

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Sources

https://www.wienerphilharmoniker.at/orchestra/history/national-socialism

The Guardian

 

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Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler- aka Hedy Lamarr.

hedy lamarr

I have already done a blog on how Hedy Lamarr was imvolved in developing and patenting a technology which was a front runner of something we now commonly call WiFi. That on its own makes her a remarkable woman, but there is so much more to her.

In 1933 she starred in a Czech  romantic drama called Ecstasy. She was 19 at the time but even at that young age she produced a first in movie history.Ecstasy was highly controversial at the time  because of scenes in which Lamarr(then still called Hedy Kiesler) swims in the nude and runs through the countryside naked. It is also  the first non-pornographic movie to portray sexual intercourse and female orgasm, to be released in main stream cinema. Although nudity was not uncommon in European movies, the erotic nature of Ecstasy was a first.Causing outrage in both Hitler’s Germany ,the United States and the Vatican.

hedy

Hedy Lamarr, was by many critics and fans alike regarded as the most woman beautiful ever to appear in films.

Born Hedwig Eva Kiesler in Vienna, Austria. She was the daughter of Gertrud (Lichtwitz), from Budapest, and Emil Kiesler, a banker from Lember (now known as Lviv in Ukraine). Her parents were both Jewish. However her Mother converted to Catholicism and raised her daughter Hedy as a Catholic too.

Hedy was married 6 times, but I am only focusing on her first Husband. Friedrich Mandl was an ardent fan of Hedy especially after seeing the movie “Ecstasy” He would persistently send her flowers, it did pay off. Although Friedrich(Fritz) Mandl had a Jewish father, he was prominent fascist,mandl

He did inherit the arms factory from his father, Alexander Mandl, which was used to help equip Hitler’s army Until 1940. According to Hedy both Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and  Adolf Hitler would sometimes attend Mandl’s parties. But, he had a personal quarrel with  Hermann Göring which, as well as his Jewish descent, led to the expropriation of his property in Europe. He fled to Switzerland. By then he had already divorced Hedy, the couple split up  in 1937.

Hedy Lamarr’s Father died in 1935. After the Germany’s Anschluss with Austria, Hedy helped get her mother out of Austria to the USA,where Hedy had moved to after she had met Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer  studio boss  Louis B. Mayer, who offered her a movie contract in Hollywood..

During World War II she did support the war efforts with her celebrity by selling war bonds.She used an act which she had with a sailor  named Eddie Rhodes. He’d be  in the crowd at each Lamarr appearance, and Hedy would call him up on stage. She would briefly flirt with him before asking the audience if she should give him a kiss. If the crowd would say yes(they always did) then  Hedy would tell the crowd  that she would kiss the sailor ,if enough people bought war bonds. When enough bonds were bought, she would kiss Rhodes and he would head back into the audience.

I was going to end this blog with a scene from that notorious movie @Ecstasy” but not every one might appreciate that,besides, even though compared to  21st century standards it would be fairly innocent, most of the Social Media platforms would ban the blog.

I am finishing therefore with the other amazing thing she became known for, the patent and blueprint she(under her married name Markey) and George Antheil submitted  for radio frequency hopping, basically an early front runner for WiFi.

patent

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Sources

IMDb

aenigma-images.com

womenshistory.org

Oprahmag.com

Wikipedia

Bography.com

APS Physics

 

 

 

 

The November pogrom-Kristall nacht.

Kristaal nacht

This is not meant to be an accusation because since I didn’t live in those times, I just don’t know how I would have reacted.

It is however something that has intrigued me.How come the majority of the Germans and Austrians did not see how wrong the November pogrom was? I can nearly understand why they turned a blind eye to the boycott of Jewish shops and even the occasional attack on Jews, they probably thought it was just a few extreme right thugs who carried out those attacks. But Kristall nacht was not just some vandalism, it was a direct nationwide assault on religion and an act of war against the Jews.

During the Night 9-10 November, hundreds of synagogues were destroyed in Austria, Germany, and Sudetenland.

pogrom

While the synagogues were burning, firemen were instructed only to stop the  fires if nearby buildings were threatened by the flames.

At least 91 Jewish citizens were killed and about 30,000 Jewish men were arrested.The excuse used for these attacks was the shooting of diplomat Ernst vom Rath by 17 year old Jewish student Herschel Grynszpan, in Paris.

But in the 1930’s in Germany there had been many other assassinations and they never triggered widespread violence as the November pogrom.

Hugh Greene who worked as a reporter for  The Daily Telegraph in Berlin, wrote the following:

“Mob law ruled in Berlin throughout the afternoon and evening and hordes of hooligans indulged in an orgy of destruction. I have seen several anti-Jewish outbreaks in Germany during the last five years, but never anything as nauseating as this. Racial hatred and hysteria seemed to have taken complete hold of otherwise decent people. I saw fashionably dressed women clapping their hands and screaming with glee, while respectable middle-class mothers held up their babies to see the ‘fun'”

damage

To add insult to injury ,after the event the Jewish community was forced to pay for the damage caused to the synagogues and properties, They were  fined 10 billion Reichsmarks.

If Kristallnacht wasn’t an indication of what the Nazis had planned for the Jews, then what was. There was still time to put a halt to it then, but it seems people had just become to indifferent by then.

paper

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German and Austrian Suicides

++++++CONTAINS SOME GRAPHIC IMAGES+++++++

mass

 

April and May 1945 marked the final stages and the end of World War II in Europe. It also saw an increase of suicides by civilians in Germany and Austria.

Cyanide had been one of the most common ways how people killed themselves. Members of the Hitler Youth handed out cyanide pills to audience members during the last concert of the Berlin Philharmonic.

COrchestra

There were a variety of reasons why people guilt themselves.

Fear: They knew off the crimes committed by their leaders and were afraid a similar fate would await them, for the German propaganda machine had warned the population on what would happen to them saying they faced the threat of torture, rape, and death by the allies in defeat. Partially this was true because their had been atrocities committed against the Germans by the Red Army but also by other allied forces, but the reports had been exaggerated to increase the fear.

A warped sense of loyalty:Many had been indoctrinated in unquestioning loyalty to the party and with it its cultural ideology of preferring death over living in defeat.They also followed the example of some of their leaders,including the Führer.

And some just killed themselves out of guilt.

Suicide levels reached their peak in Berlin in April 1945 when 3,881 people killed themselves during the Battle of Berlin. In the small town of Demmin close to 1,000 people killed themselves.

The former Nazi mayor of Leipzig, Germany committed suicide with his wife in April 1945. Allied troops found their bodies in this office.

Leipzig

The picture at the start of the blog is a photograph of women in Vienna who committed suicide, there is also the body of what looks like a dead soldier on the ground. The picture below is from the same women but taken from a different angle, it appears the Red Army officers are looking at the dead soldier.Although there were suicides in Austria they were nothing compared to the rates in Germany.

Ref Army

A disillusioned  German soldier decided to take his own life rather than facing life in non-Nazi Germany. the face of the Hitler portrait has been gouged out.

soldie

A woman who killed herself for fear for what the future might bring.

Woman

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The Holocaust Business enterprise

Gate

This week marks the 80th anniversary of the building of the Mauthausen concentration camp complex in Austria.From day 1 the aim of the camp was to make profit. Mauthausen and its many sub-camps were built by prisoners from Dachau concentration camp, which effectively meant free labor.

The Nazis had chosen the site because of the nearby quarry with huge quantities of granite. Granite needed for may projects in the third reich.

quarry

Although it was controlled by the Nazi regime, it was run as a private company as an economic enterprise.

Marbacher-Bruch and Bettelberg quarries which was a DEST Company: an abbreviation for Deutsche Erd– und Steinwerke GmbH(German Earth & Stone Works Company),an SS owned company created to procure and manufacture building materials for projects in Nazi Germany. The company was managed by Oswald Pohl, who was a high-ranking official of the SS.

Pohl

Aside from working, and often literally working to death, in the quarry many local and national companies used prisoners from Mauthausen. Prisoners were also rented out as slave labour to work on local farms, road construction.It is estimated that in total 57 companies were involved in the use of inmates from Mauthausen. Some of these companies are today still large corporations, the biggest being Bayer which was then part of IG Farben,but is now one of the biggest life Science, chemical and pharmaceutical companies in the world.

Bayer

Mauthausen wasn’t  the only concentration camp where the Nazis implemented their extermination through labour (Vernichtung durch Arbeit) programme, it was however,  one of the most evil,brutal and severe,even compared to other concentration camps.

The quarry had the harshestt working conditions. Six days a week, from sunrise to sunset, prisoners were forced to break the granite and carry the extreme heavy load on their back up the  “Stairs of Death”  which was made of 186 uneven rocks placed on top of each other, some half a meter high.Thousands died on those steps.

stairs

Additionally to the hard labour the inmates were also subjected to gruelling and pointless physical exercises as  methods of  humiliating and wearing the inmates down.

leap frog

Mauthusen became one of the most profitable concentration camps of Nazi Germany, with more than 11,000,000 Reichsmark in profits in 1944 alone ($ 166 million in 2018).

The Mauthausen inmates consisted of  Prisoners of war,Political prisoners Jews and nationals of virtually every German-occupied country,and even Spanish rebels who had fought against Franco during the Spanish civil war.

Besides prisoners being worked to death, they were also gassed,hanged and shot. or were send to Hartheim clinic for euthanasia.

It is hard to estimate how many were killed because the Nazis destroyed much of the camp’s files and evidence and often assigned to  newly arrived prisoners the camp numbers of those who had already been killed. The estimate vary between 122,766 and 320,000. But of course that didn’t bother the Nazi regime because they were making a healthy profit. They managed to turn a genocide into a business enterprise.

staff

Donation

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Sources

USHMM

Bundesarchiv

 

Vienna 1913-Café Central

Wien

Vienna in 1913 was a vibrant cultural city. It was one of Europe’s power houses.Needless to say it attracted people from all over the continent and indeed the world.

Not was it only known for its musical heritage it was also known for its many fine coffee houses. today Viennese coffee is still enjoyed by many coffee drinkers, including myself, for it really is a treat.

One of Vienna’s coffee houses has made a special mark on history. Café Central.It was a place frequented by many of Vienna’s intellectuals and artists. It also had the nickname “Die Schachhochschule” or the Chess High school in English,because of the presence of many chess players who used the first floor for their games.

central

For a brief period in 1913 it was regularly frequented by guests who made an enormous impact on the planet’s history. In January 1913 , Adolf Hitler,Josip Broz Tito, Sigmund Freud, Joseph Stalin, and Leon Trotsky were guests of the Coffee house. There is a very good chance that at one stage they all were there at the same time.

Leon Trotzky was the editor of the newspaper Pravda at the time, he wrote about an encounter he had in the café with a man called Stavros Papadopoulos. He wrote:

“I was sitting at the table,when the door opened with a knock and an unknown man entered.He was short… thin… his greyish-brown skin covered in pockmarks… I saw nothing in his eyes that resembled friendliness.”

Stavros Papadopoulos was not the real name of the man, he had been born as Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, but in later life was known as Josef Stalin.

centra cafe

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Source

BBC

 

Bambi, Nazis and an erotic novel.

Bambi

I have to start with an apology,because next time you watch the Disney classic ‘Bambi’ you will see that young little deer in a different light, after reading this blog.

Felix Salten was a Hungary born Austrian Jewish author.When he was 4 weeks old he moved from Pest in Hungary to Vienna in Austria. I will not focus too much on his life but will pick out just a few elements, which will be interesting enough.

In 1923 he wrote his most famous story “Bambi: Eine Lebensgeschichte aus dem Walde” or in English “Bambi: a life in the Woods” In 1928 it was translated in English.  In 1933, he sold the film rights to the American director Sidney Franklin for the sum of $1,000,Franklin in return transferred to rights to the Disney company.

film

Hitler was a great fan of the Disney movies, it is said that his favourite movie was “Snow White”

In 1942 the book was turned into a movie by the Walt Disney Studio with the title “Bambi”.

Prior to that in 1936, the Nazis had banned the book and when after the annexation of Austria, Felix Salten moved with his wife to Zürich in Switzerland, where he remained until he  died on 8 October 1945, aged 76.

By now I can hear you think” Didn’t he mention an erotic novel in the title?” You would be right; I did mention that, however there is a caveat.The novel I am referring to is “Josephine Mutzenbacher – The Life Story of a Viennese Whore, as Told by Herself” The caveat is that the book was written anonymously, but it is widely believed it was in fact written by Felix Salten. Today the Austrian Government designated Salten as the sole author.

josephi

The plot  in Josephine Mutzenbacher is that of first-person narrative, structured in the format of a memoir. The story is told from the point of view of an accomplished aging 50-year-old Viennese courtesan who is looking back upon the sexual escapades she enjoyed during her unbridled youth in Vienna

The book has been turned into a series of pornographic movies. Out of curiosity when I was a youngster,many moons ago, I attempted to watch one of them, but after a few minutes I turned it off, not because I am prudish but because it was so boring.

This does mean however that Felix Salten’s books have become films from one extreme to the other extreme, totally child friendly to xxx rated. I don’t know how many authors can claim that.

Leaving you with an innocent image.

Bambi still

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The hills are alive with the sound of sinking Ships.

 

Georg_von_Trapp.jpgWho hasn’t heard of the Sound of Music, an immensely popular movie about the von Trapp family.

But behind the idyllic portrayal of the family lies a darker origin. I will not focus on the singing legacy in this blog but more on that ‘darker side of the story.

Georg von Trapp’s first wive was Agatha Whitehead granddaughter of Robert Whitehead, the inventor of  the modern torpedo.

And how bizarre this may sound for Austria is a landlocked country, Georg von Trapp was a captain in the Austro-Hungarian navy during WWI. The Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy did include some of the Baltic nations.

450px-Austro-Hungarian_Monarchy_(1914).svg.png

After World War I broke out, he was given command of the U-Boat U-5, a small, 100-foot-long submarine displacing 240 tons, on April 17, 1915. U-5’s ventilation system wasn’t in the best of state  and sometimes filled the sub with poisonous fumes.While in command of SM U-5 he sank two enemy warships.

SMU-5_Trapp

On April 27, less than two weeks after assuming command, U-5 sank the French cruiser Leon Gambetta just off the heel of Italy’s boot. The 12,000 ton Gambetta sank in ten minutes and 684 of its crew, out of 821, were lost. Von Trapp had difficulties coming to terms with the realities of modern warfare:

“So that’s what war looks like! There behind me hundreds of seamen have drowned, men who have done me no harm, men who did their duty as I myself have done, against whom I have nothing personally; with whom, on the contrary, I have felt a bond through sharing the same profession.

— Captain Georg von Trapp”

French_cruiser_Leon_Gambetta (1)

von Trapp was later given command of another submarine on October 14, 1915. The  SM U-14 which had previously been the French submarine Curie, before it was sunk, while trying to infiltrate an Austro-Hungarian Naval base,and salvaged by the Austrian Navy.

SM_U-14_(Austria-Hungary)

 

While in command of the SM U-14 he sank 11 allied ,mainly cargo, vessels.

For his endeavours in the Navy he received several honors, among them the Military Order of Maria Theresa, the highest award given in the Austrian Navy. Von Trapp was the most decorated officer in the Austrian Navy and was knigted, earning the title “Ritter” and became Georg Johannes, Ritter von Trapp.

On 3 September 1922, Agatha von Trapp died of scarlet fever. In  1926, Maria Franziska, the 2nd oldest daughter, was recovering from an illness and could not go to school. Therefor Georgvon Trapp recruited  Maria Augusta Kutschera, from the nearby Nonnberg Abbey, as a tutor,and not as a governess as is the case on the musical.

On 26 November 1927, the 47 year old Georg married the 22 year old Maria Augusta Kutschera.

Maria von Trapp

When Germany annexed Austria in 1938, von Trapp was offered a commission in the German Navy,But he couldn’t reconcile with the Nazi ideology. Realizing  that he could not  really decline the offer without the threat of arrest, possibly for his entire family, von Trapp decided to leave Austria.

Via Italy they eventually ended up in the US.

I think the exploits of Georg vonTrapp, prior to  Maria Augusta Kutschera would have made a much more fascinating movie, but that is just my opinion.

800px-Trapp_Family_Singers_1941

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Matthias Sindelar-Protest through football.

anschluss

It is often believed that the Austrians accepted the annexation lying down. For a big part that was true however not every one was so enthusiastic about the ‘Anschluss’

Of Czech descent, Sindelar was born Matěj Šindelář in Kozlov, Moravia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the son of Jan Šindelář, a blacksmith, and his wife Marie (née Švengrová). Sindelar-autDespite occasional claims that Sindelar was of Jewish origin, the family was Catholic.They moved to Vienna in 1905 and settled in the district of Favoriten, which had a large Czech-speaking community. Young Matěj/Matthias began playing football in the streets of Vienna.

Sindelar was spotted playing in the street with a ball made from rags and joined the local Hertha club at the age of 15, a year after his father was killed on the Italian front during World War I. Before long he moved to the Vienna Amateurs, later to be renamed FK Austria Vienna, and soon broke into the first team despite a persistent knee injury. Many put his elusive style of play down to the fear of receiving a career-ending knock to his permanently bandaged knee

He played as a centre-forward for the celebrated Austria national team of the early 1930s known as the Wunderteam, which he captained at the 1934 World Cup.

Known as “The Mozart of football” or Der Papierene – ‘The Paper Man” for his slight build, he was renowned as one of the finest pre-war footballers, known for his fantastic dribbling ability and creativity.

Matthias Sindelar

Copyright Votavafoto Vienna

VOTAVA

Sindelar, an awkward, edgy character, had made clear that he was fundamentally opposed to the Anschluss, but, despite the fact that, at 35, he had begun to wind down his international career, he insisted on playing.

Sport was of course a key element in the Nazi propaganda machine, The 1936 Summer Olympic games gad all been about the Nazi image.

s7sw8mtz-1341813925

April 3, 1938, the Prater Stadium in Vienna. For 69 minutes Matthias Sindelar, playing for his national side, does as he’s told. He passes up chance after chance during a ‘friendly’ match against Germany ,who just a few weeks earlier annexed his beloved Austria. This game – designed as a celebration of this ‘connection’ – was an official welcoming back of Austria into the Reich. Having been advised not to score, Sindelar keeps missing the easiest of chances.

Then, in the 70th minute, he tucks home a rebound and scores , much to the surprise of the 60,000 crowd, who are fully expecting the game to fizzle out into a diplomatic 0-0 draw.

sindelar_6

Then his team-mate and friend Schasti Sesta blasts home a free-kick to make it 2-0, and the pair dance a jig of delight in front of a box full of Nazi dignitaries.

Capture

In the months that followed, Sindelar, who never made any secret of his Social Democratic leanings, repeatedly refused to play for Germany. In August 1938, he bought a café from Leopold Drill, a Jew forced to give it up under new legislation. paying DM 20,000  and was censured by the authorities for his reluctance to put up Nazi posters.

On the morning of January 23, 1939, Matthias Sindelar was found dead in his apartment, above the coffee house he had acquired the previous year, lying next to Camilla Castagnola, his new girlfriend. The official verdict was accidental death caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. However, the break-up of the team and city he loved had gradually forced Sindelar into depression and many felt he took his own life in a suicide pact with his girlfriend. There is a third theory, though: foul play. The police investigation was forcibly cancelled by the Nazis after a few months, and the files pertaining to the case disappeared soon afterwards.

Ehrengrab_Matthias_Sindelar

 

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Helene Melanie Lebel- To “ill” to be allowed to live.

Helene Lebe;

On this day in 1939 Adolf Hitler signed an order to begin the systematic euthanasia of mentally ill and disabled people, the so called T4 program.

Aktion_brand

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/04/08/forgotten-history-the-t-4-holocaust-victimsthe-killing-of-the-disabled/

The T4 program, which was was basically the gassing of people who were deemed mentally ill, was the first wave of mass extermination by the Nazi regime.

Helena Melanie Lebel was one of the many thousands of victims.

BORN: SEPTEMBER 15, 1911
VIENNA, AUSTRIA

The elder of two daughters born to a Jewish father and a Catholic mother, Helene was raised as a Catholic in Vienna. Her father died in action during World War I when Helene was just 5 years old, and her mother remarried when Helene was 15. Known affectionately as Helly, Helene loved to swim and go to the opera. After finishing her secondary education she entered law school.

1933-39: At 19 Helene first showed signs of mental illness. Her condition worsened during 1934, and by 1935 she had to give up her law studies and her job as a legal secretary. After losing her trusted fox terrier, Lydi, she suffered a major breakdown. She was diagnosed as schizophrenic, and was placed in Vienna’s Steinhof Psychiatric Hospital. Two years later, in March 1938, the Germans annexed Austria to Germany.

Anschluss Österreich, Wien

1940: Helene was confined in Steinhof and was not allowed home even though her condition had improved. Her parents were led to believe that she would soon be released. Instead, Helene’s mother was informed in August that Helene had been transferred to a hospital in Niedernhart, just across the border in Bavaria. In fact, Helene was transferred to a converted prison in Brandenburg, Germany, where she was undressed, subjected to a physical examination, and then led into a shower room.

Helene was one of 9,772 persons gassed that year in the Brandenburg “Euthanasia” center. She was officially listed as dying in her room of “acute schizophrenic excitement.”

Brandenburg, Hauptgebäude des Zuchthauses