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The great auto theft: confiscation and restitution of motorised vehicles in Austria during and after the Nazi period.

This paper is concerned with the confiscation of vehicles after the 'Anschluss', the annexation of Austria to the 'Third Reich' in 1938. The victims were opponents of the National Socialist regime and persons who were considered by the National Socialists to be Jews, as defined by the Nuremburg Laws of 1935. The seizure of vehicles by the National Socialists is a neglected aspect of Aryanisation by the National Socialists.

During the German occupation 1939-45, the German Wehrmacht confiscated thousands of private motor vehicles throughout Europe. This aspect of German occupation policy has also not yet been sufficiently studied. In the Federal Archives in Berlin the author could find a list of 500 seized vehicles from France. (1) An opening of archival sources of East and West European countries, however, would provide further insight into the German occupation policy. These sources would also allow interesting studies of mobility in these countries. It would be interesting to compare the present study with politically motivated confiscations of motor vehicles in other parts of the world at different times.

Whereas studies of traffic during the time of the National Socialists in the German Reich have been occupied intensively with the question of autobahn construction and the 'Volkswagen' project, (2) the subject of prohibitions on mobility for political and 'racial' opponents of the regime has been mostly ignored. In Germany, Dorothee Hochstetter has addressed these questions. (3) As she demonstrates, the establishment of the National Socialist community of the people also prevailed in the formation of a 'traffic community', in which there was no place for political opponents or Jews. For some regions of the German federal State of Bavaria, Oliver Kuhschelm has provided a first investigation of Aryanised motor vehicles. (4)

The importance of trucks, automobiles and motorcycles as instruments of political propaganda is shown by the last free elections in the Weimar Republic and in Austria in 1932/33. The conquest of political power was achieved by means of the conquest of public space. Those who ruled the roads not only had symbolic space but had in fact got power in the state. Those who wished to eliminate political opponents had to remove their ability to move freely in public. Officially, the seizures were justified as prevention of 'subversive activities'. (5) This led to the seizure of private means of transport. After the takeover of power in Germany, the National Socialists first concentrated on fighting Communists and Social Democrats. An important instrument in this process was the seizure of vehicles: many SA ('Sturmabteilung') units were equipped in the spring of 1933 with motorcycles that had been confiscated from Communists. (6) In contrast, the persecution of the Jews was gradual at first, accelerating only after the Olympic Games in Germany in 1936. (7) This meant that Viktor Klemperer, who counted as a Jew according to the Nuremberg Laws, could still acquire a driving licence in 1935 and purchase a car in 1936. (8) By the time the National Socialists had taken power in Austria two years later, Jews no longer had this freedom.

At the end of the 1930s automobile ownership was still the preserve of the social, economic and political elite. A glance at the Austrian automobile journal for these years gives the impression that the Habsburg Monarchy had not yet ended: 'One encountered Hungarian counts, Polish noblemen, Jewish intellectuals and international bohemians with extravagant flair'. (9) The car was an object of desire and had, at the same time, been inseparable from anti-Semitic resentment since its invention. As early as the occasion of the legendary Paris-Vienna automobile race in June 1902 a connection was made between automobiles and Judaism. When the authorities were criticised at the time for blocking the roads to regional traffic during the race, it was said: 'Here we have the Rothschild Jews and they must be protected like patents, irrespective of our country folk! Oh the "Michl" will one day awaken and stretch itself and shake like the waking lion in his lair. But he will also show his enormous teeth and destroy and tear apart his opponents. And nobody will have sympathy for them'. (10) Anti-automobile protests in Austria had an anti-Semitic element compared to other European countries. (11)

In 1922--sixteen years before the National Socialists seized power in Austria--the Jewish journalist Hugo Bettauer composed his satirical vision The City without Jews. In the bestselling novel, which was also filmed in the mid-1920s, he described how the anti-Semitism of the Viennese--combined with the campaign of hatred by the 'Hakenkreuzler' ('Swastika-wearers')-led to the persecution and robbery of Viennese Jews. Bettauer had the Christian Socialist and anti-Semitic Federal Chancellor Schwertfeger speak the following words in an election speech: 'Let us look at little Austria today (...). Who drives an automobile, who splurges in the nightclubs, who fills the coffee houses, who the sophisticated restaurants, who drapes themselves and their wives in jewels and pearls? The Jew!' (12) In Bettauer's book the Jew who races 'through the streets in luxury automobiles' is one of the most memorable anti-Semitic stereotypes. (13) It is therefore no surprise that the jealousy thus channelled ultimately led to Jews being ousted from the city; even 'Christian businessmen also took possession of their automobiles'; but the new wealth was only of short duration. Without the Jews, the economic, financial and cultural life of the city came to a halt. Even 'the tens of thousands of cars, that had been transferred from Jewish hands to Christian ones', had to be 'sold for a handful of lire or francs abroad .... because fuel became unaffordable due to poor business', wrote Bettauer. (14) By the end of the novel anti-Semites recognised that the persecution of the Jews had been a huge mistake and a reformed Chancellor Schwertfeger personally called on all Viennese Jews who had been expelled to return.

The fiction culminated in a happy ending, but the reality did not. Bettauer was murdered by a National Socialist in Vienna in 1925. Thirteen years later the National Socialists seized power in Austria, and one of their first measures against the Jewish population was to confiscate their vehicles. In Vienna alone, twenty per cent of cars were stolen from their legal owners, the greatest auto theft in Austrian history. Bettauer could only guess in 1922 precisely how it would be done and, as so often, reality completely overshadowed fiction.

The National Socialists knew how to mobilise the latent anti-Semitism of large numbers of the Austrian population. (15) As well as religiously motivated Catholic anti-Semitism, the economically motivated anti-Semitism of the bourgeoisie grew rapidly in the years of the global financial crisis.

The present study shows how important it was for the Nazis to restrict the mobility of their opponents as quickly as possible during the course of their assumption of power in Austria, in order to prevent the formation of resistance and stop the opponents of the regime from leaving the country unchecked--possibly with their property.

On the other hand, the state and the 'National Socialist German Workers' Party' (NSDAP) profited two-fold from the vehicles seized by the Nazis: they needed these vehicles urgently to build their own organisational structures, while they could also earn money from selling some vehicles to non-Jewish Austrians. For many Austrians, the purchase of these confiscated Jewish vehicles represented the first step into ownership of motorised personal transport.

The history of confiscation of motor vehicles in 1938 is also an example of widespread corruption in the Nazi state. As Frank Bajohr argued in his remarkable study, the Nazi regime should be understood as a dictatorship, 'not from the top down, but as a social practice in which the German society was involved in many different ways, then crossed the corruption reign and society together, and entangled many "ordinary Germans" by enrichment in the Nazi oppression and extermination policy.' (16)

Jewish automobile ownership in Austria before 1938

According to the 1934 population census, 191,481 persons of Jewish faith lived in Austria, the vast majority of these--176,034 (ninety-two per cent) in Vienna. At that time about ten per cent of the population in Vienna were Jewish. Vienna was the most populous federal state in Austria in 1934 (1.87 m). It also had by far the greatest density of motorised vehicles. Although only approximately twenty-eight per cent of the population of Austria lived in Vienna, almost half of all cars and taxis and around forty-three per cent of trucks were registered in Vienna. Only in the case of motorcycles was Vienna not in the lead. (17)

With regard to motorised vehicles, Austrian statistics of the 1930s were very detailed, but there were no specific statistics about the religious distribution of car ownership. However, it is possible to reconstruct Jewish ownership of vehicles in Austria by evaluating National Socialist sources on the 'Aryanisations', or confiscations, from the printed vehicle directories as well as from the sources of the 'Jewish Community of Vienna' on the emigration of Austrian Jews. (18) Reconstructed data show that 2,997 vehicles --passenger cars, trucks and a few motorcycles--were owned by and confiscated from Austrian Jews in the period prior to the Anschluss. Based on the source material--there are, unfortunately, very few motorcycle directories from this period and hardly any verifiable indications of the actual number of trucks owned by Jewish companies--the figures collected on the number of passenger cars owned by Viennese Jews are the most complete (Table 1). (19) Of the 10,257 passenger cars registered in Vienna in 1937, 2,096 were owned by Jews, which represent a proportion of twenty per cent. Compared with their 9.4 per cent share of the population, Jews were overrepresented in the ownership of passenger cars.

The Jewish population of Vienna was not distributed equally among the individual city districts. Leopoldstadt, with a population of 148,655, the most populous district in Vienna, was also the Jewish centre of the city, the Jewish population there being over one-third of the total. Twenty-nine per cent of Viennese lived there, but only every tenth four-wheel motorised vehicle under Jewish ownership was registered there. In neighbouring Brigittenau the proportion of Jews among the inhabitants was also high: eight per cent of all Viennese Jews lived here, but only two per cent of all automobiles owned by Jews were registered. A different picture is presented by the commercial centre of Vienna: in the city centre the proportion of Jews in the residential population was twenty-five per cent. Five percent of the Viennese Jewish population lived here, but these five percent represented one quarter of the entire Jewish automobile ownership in the city. (20)

A glance at the professional groups explains the high density of automobiles: members of professions that owned an especially large number of automobiles at this time usually had their businesses, offices and doctor's surgeries in the city centre. Only 2.2 per cent of the Viennese population lived in the city centre, but nine per cent of doctors and nineteen per cent of lawyers had the centre of their working lives here. Jews were particularly strongly represented among car-driving doctors and lawyers: of the 248 Viennese car-owning doctors, almost fifty per cent were Jewish, and of the ninety-three lawyers with cars, almost two-thirds were Jews. The fact the number of academics among Jewish car owners was, at twenty per cent, almost twice the proportion of other car owners (9.3 per cent) also fits this picture. Traders were the professional group represented most strongly among Jewish car owners: a quarter of vehicles registered to Jews were owned by traders.

Automobiles and patriotism

In the 1920s and 1930s Austria was 'the state that nobody wanted'. In test polls in individual regions at the beginning of the 1920s, an overwhelming majority of the population expressed a preference for an Anschluss with Germany, something which had, however, been prohibited by the Peace Treaty of St. Germain in 1919. Until Hitler's seizure of power in 1933, union with Germany had been the desired goal of Austrian politics everything that was 'German' was exalted in Austria. Was that also true of German-produced automobiles? In their 1994 study Bewegung und Beharrung ('Mobility and Inertia'), Schmied, Staudacher and Lindenbaum presented the thesis that the choice of automobile brand between 1918 and 1938 represented an expression of patriotism. (21) They pointed to the particularly high proportion of German makes in Salzburg, compared to Vienna. However, it is likely that market factors such as the price and availability of a brand had more influence in choosing a vehicle than patriotic feelings. In the 1930s the Austrian market was sealed off from foreign makes: only 150 vehicles per year and from each country were allowed to be imported into Austria. There were special bilateral agreements with Italy and Germany with respective quotas of 350 and 250 imported vehicles per year. The dominance of Austrian models was secured. There was virtually no difference between the origin of passenger cars owned by Jewish and non-Jewish Viennese.

The slightly lower percentage of Austrian vehicles in Jewish possession (48.2 per cent compared to 52.1 per cent in the non-Jewish reference group) cannot be interpreted as being unpatriotic: with regard to the two largest Austrian vehicle brands, Steyr and Austro Daimler, there is no difference between the groups. The difference can only be explained by the Opel Steyr which was very unpopular among Viennese Jews. This Opel product, which was produced in 1932 for a short time by Steyr, under licence for the Austrian market, was represented much less in the group of Jewish automobile owners than among non-Jewish owners. Only eight per cent of this make was in Jewish ownership. It is also noticeable that German vehicle brands were relatively unpopular among Jews at this time: no less than nine per cent of all passenger cars came from Germany, but only around six per cent of Viennese Jews decided in favour of a German product. German manufacturers of small and medium-sized vehicles such as DKW, BMW, Opel or Hanomag were under-represented among Viennese Jews. Higherclass German vehicles such as Horch, Mercedes Benz and Adler, on the other hand, were also popular among Viennese Jews. They did not boycott German automobile models on principle. Viennese Jews did, however, prefer American cars such as Buick, Standard and Dodge: Jewish doctors, in particular, liked to drive Standard American vehicles. The penchant for American cars and higher-class products can probably be ascribed to the social class of the Jewish vehicle owners at that time.

The year of birth is known for 1,672 Jewish car owners. Assuming that there were no great differences between the age distribution of Jewish and non-Jewish vehicle owners, the ratio can also be applied to the rest of the population. Compared to the age distribution of the residential population of Austria, some remarkable patterns emerge: approximately one-fifth of the residential population of Vienna was aged between forty and forty-nine years, but the proportion of this group among automobile owners is almost one-third. Over seventy-two per cent of car owners were older than forty years, whereas this age group represented only around fifty per cent of the city's residential population (Table 2).

The impression that car ownership was connected to youthful ability and ambition is mistaken. The typical passenger car owner in Austria in 1938 was still the 'gentleman driver': a comfortably off, middle-aged man. The typical Jewish motorist was also male, over forty, if not an academic person then usually a lawyer or doctor; otherwise he was most probably involved in trading.

Automobile expropriations from Jews in Austria after the Anschluss

'I had an old Steyr XXX, its value was probably around 500 RM, and it was confiscated in mid-March', wrote the housewife Selma Baum in her 'declaration of property' in 1938. The Jewish lawyer Heinrich Rubner declared: 'I own a car of the make Steyr 430, which is 5 years old. I cannot, however, estimate its value, as the car was confiscated along with the cars of other Jewish owners immediately after 11 March 1938 and I do not know either where the vehicle is or in what condition it is in'. (22) Similar entries can be found in many 'declarations of property' which Austrian Jews were forced to submit in the late Spring of 1938 to the Property Transaction Office in the Federal Ministry of the Economy and Employment.

Immediately after German troops marched into Austria on 13 March 1938 there was pogrom-like commotion--initiated by Austrian National Socialists and anti-Semites--particularly in Vienna. As well as valuable items, jewellery and money, a great many motor vehicles were also confiscated during house searches. These wild confiscations have been described in Austrian historiography as the 'March Campaign'. (23) Indeed, by the end of March 1938 the majority of vehicles owned by Austrian Jews had been confiscated and expropriated, but the simple theft of the cars was not enough: in many cases SA troops also pocketed money for fuel or even demanded that the owners wash the requisitioned cars before driving off. (24)

These actions succeeded in their goal of spreading fear and terror and were among the many measures that ultimately drove Austrian Jews out of the country. In addition, however, the NSDAP and its sub-groups, which had been prohibited in Austria prior to the Anschluss, urgently needed vehicles in order to build up their organisation. To them it was an obvious step to grab these from Jews and opponents to the regime. The vehicles confiscated from representatives of the autofascist elite--mostly followers of the former Christian Social Party and the fascist Heimwehr-movement --were usually returned by the Nazis after a few months, albeit often in damaged condition. The Jews, however, were deprived of their vehicles without compensation, and their vehicles were never returned.

Wide-ranging and comprehensive house searches for vehicles or Jews raise the suspicion that they were not spontaneous actions but were planned and ordered centrally by the leadership of the NSDAP (25) Indeed, a few days after the invasion, the Reichsfuhrer SS and Head of German Police were authorised on 18 March 1938, pursuant to Section 1 of the Second Ordinance of the Law on the Reunification of Austria with the Third Reich, to 'take all necessary measures to maintain security and order, also outside of the otherwise legal limits'. (26) This gave the Gestapo free rein to interfere in the personal and property rights of all citizens. The opportunity was taken to carry out confiscations of all kinds. Many reports by the Gestapo about the confiscation of vehicles were based on that 18 March ordinance, and referred to alleged 'subversive and anti-state' activities by the person concerned. (27) Being Jewish was sufficient proof of a threat to the state. All confiscations conducted by the Gestapo were retrospectively legalised seven months later by the Ordinance Concerning the Seizure of Subversive and anti-State Property in the country of Austria, dated 18 November 1938. (28)

Several problems--including those of a legal nature--arose after the seizures in Austria. One notable difficulty affected car loan agencies whose business model was widespread in the 1930s. Similar to today's car loan firms or leasing companies, they financed the purchase of new or used cars by means of a loan. The buyer generally paid approximately thirty per cent of the purchase price as a deposit, and the rest could be repaid in 12, 18 or 24 monthly instalments. The purchaser had to take out credit default insurance for the outstanding amount, which would cover the remaining cost in the event of insolvency. Until complete payment, however, the automobile remained the property of the car loan agency. After the Anschluss the problem arose that many Jewish car owners could no longer pay their instalments because their money and their car had been taken from them. Loan agencies and insurance companies facing financial loss attempted to obtain release of the vehicles by the Gestapo, since they were, after all, still formally the property of the loan agencies. There were four large car loan agencies altogether in Austria, who feared a financial loss of between 750,000 and one million RM for approximately 300 vehicles that had been financed by them and confiscated. (29)

After prolonged and tough negotiations, in 1938 the Gestapo returned the majority of the confiscated cars to the car loan agencies, which then re-sold the vehicles and thus reduced their losses. The Gestapo reported that, in addition, 'the car finance institutes were instructed to continue pursuing claims against insolvent Jews'. (30) Car loan agencies also placed pressure on their aggrieved Jewish clients to continue paying the instalments, even though they were no longer in possession of the cars. (31) 'By pursuing the debtors we have managed to collect payments of 41,021.17 RM by the end of June already', wrote the largest of them, the Automobil Verkehrsanstalt (AVA), in a report. (32) A difficulty was presented to AVA by the case of the architect Moritz Schuller: his Cord FB, which had only just been delivered to him, was confiscated by the SA shortly after the Anschluss. A few days later the SA caused an accident with the car, which wrote it off completely. It now emerged, however, that the architect Schuller, who the SA has assumed to be Jewish because of his first name ('Moritz'), was actually 'Aryan'. The luxury car could no longer be returned as it was destroyed, the SA could or would not replace the car, and the architect also refused to pay AVA for the cost of the damage. For these and similar cases the state finally declared their willingness to compensate for damages, with reference to the Ordinance Concerning the Settlement of Legal Claims in the Country of Austria, dated 21 May 1938, which had been passed specifically for this purpose. (33)

The widening ban on Jewish vehicles

While the majority of vehicles in Jewish possession had already been confiscated in annexed Austria during the 'March Campaign', the anti-Jewish measures regarding mobility in the remainder of the German Reich were only implemented with and subsequent to the November Pogrom of 1938. (34) Not only synagogues burned in the Kristallnacht; vehicles were also confiscated. On 3 December 1938, Jews' driving licences and registration papers for their vehicles were declared invalid and had to be submitted to the police by the last day of the year, and Jewish driving instructors also lost their teaching permits. (35) This action was followed on 14 December 1938 by the ban on Jews even owning a vehicle. If there were any Jews in the German Reich still in possession of a vehicle, they had to sell them immediately--often below value--to Germans or to the NSDAP. (36) The Old Reich caught up with the Austria in the area of 'Aryanising' vehicles with a delay of nine months, at the beginning of 1939.

In Austria, the sanctions against persons of Jewish origin was handled more strictly than even the racial law prescribed: for example, the property transactions office in Vienna's Federal Ministry of the Economy and Employment, on the instruction of the State Commissioner Walter Rafelsberger, attempted to 'carry out a complete cleansing of the institutes and companies involved in transportation of all Jewish influence.' In the process, so-called 'half-breeds' were also to lose their concessions for cargo and personal transportation, their vehicles and their driving licences, and in some cases those who were married to Jews also--against the law that applied at the time--had their vehicles impounded. (37) Organs of the NSDAP, for example, confiscated the almost brand new Steyr 530, owned by Elisabeth Eidlitz, Vice-President of the Austrian Ladies' Automobile Club (Damen Auto Sport Clubs Osterreich). The SS men believed that this car was in Jewish ownership, as Elisabeth Eidlitz's husband was the Jewish businessman Franz Eidlitz. Although a lawyer attempted to retrieve the car, and although the car was seen many times on the streets of Vienna, Elisabeth Eidlitz never got back the car which she bought with her own money. On the contrary, after the SS had caused an accident with the vehicle, the insurance claimed compensation from her. (38)

The arbitrary behaviour of the authorities is also demonstrated by the case of a Viennese driving instructor who was categorized according to National Socialist (NS) diktat as a '1st degree half-breed' and yet was considered at this time by the National Socialist racial laws themselves as being equal to persons of 'German blood'. At first his driving instruction permit was withdrawn due to his Jewish origins. It was returned to him only after the Reich Ministry of Transport in Berlin had informed the authorities in Vienna of the illegality of the procedures that had been followed. (39)

Jewish vehicle allocation to the NSDAP, Gestapo, state and army

The impetuous actions in Austria, often without any apparent plan, were carried out by different agents after the Anschluss. The Gestapo was de facto only responsible for about one-third of all confiscations in March and April 1938; the rest was down to the NSDAP The party and the state soon lost track of the actions carried out by NS activists. By means of the Reich Commission for the Reunification of Austria with the German Reich of 3 May 1938, the Gestapo was entrusted with the administration and allocation of the confiscated vehicles. At the same time, all departments of the NSDAP were obliged 'to report the confiscated vehicles immediately in a list, including information on registration, chassis and engine numbers, type, year of construction, kilometres driven and former owner'. Where necessary the vehicles were to be made available to the Gestapo. (40) By these means the state police headquarters in Vienna collected the data of 1,700 confiscated vehicles, which represented a total value of more than one million RM. (41)

The vehicles confiscated by the Gestapo itself were gathered together in three large storage areas in Vienna. A decree of 30 July 1938 authorised the Gestapo to use the cars and allocate them to different sections of the party or to state departments, and also, where necessary, to sell them. (42) The Gestapo subsequently commissioned the state auction house Dorotheum in Vienna to conduct the sales. On ten dates in August and September 1938, the Viennese could buy used cars confiscated by the Gestapo at reduced prices. Between 600 and 1,000 vehicles found new 'Aryan' owners by these means. The Dorotheum estimated the yield from the auction at 420,000 RM. (43) Purchasers were well aware that these vehicles had previously been owned by Jews. Few paid attention or had a guilty conscience: only one buyer is on file as having reported his vehicle after 1945 as 'seized property'. (44) The aggrieved Jews were also aware that their vehicles were being sold at auction. (45)

Public auctions at the command of the Gestapo aroused the displeasure of the party sections of the NSDAP, who would rather have had the vehicles for their own use or as rewards for party members. In September 1938, after 'instructions from above', a moratorium was finally placed on sales of vehicles by auction. (46)

The many new departments that were created following the Anschluss created a great need for official cars. The integration of Austria into the German Reich and the development of the NSDAP in Austria were administered not only by the Austrian authorities but also by those of the Reich Governor and the Reich Commissioner for the Reunification of Austria with the German Reich. These departments took control of the fleet of vehicles of the former Austrian Federal Chancellery and the President's Chamber, but as early as March 1938 the original fleet of Austrian vehicles was supplemented by representative rented cars, including rented chauffeurs, from Mercedes Benz. These were soon joined by the vehicles that the Gestapo confiscated from the Jews. The departments were often allocated two vehicles: an enclosed car for the winter and an open car that was used for mass marches and celebratory parades.

The fleet of the Reich Commissioner comprised thirty-five vehicles, including seven confiscated cars. (47) Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the State Secretary and later head of the Reich main security department, who was sentenced to death in Nuremberg in 1946, drove a Renault that had been confiscated from the Viennese Jewish banker Edmund Grun. The SA standard bearer, Ferdinand Kofler, had a Steyr 100, which was once owned by the Viennese Jew Eva Pick. (48)

The fleet of the Reich Governor comprised another twenty-seven vehicles in October 1938, around one-third of which had been confiscated from Jews, all of them new cars that had first been registered only in 1937. (49) Remarkably, the former Austrian Federal President, Wilhelm Miklas, was allowed to keep his official car, an Austro Daimler ADR 8--perhaps as a small mark of recognition for the fact that he put up hardly any resistance to the invasion by the German troops.

A confiscated car that was used by the State Secretary Gustav Wachter had to be returned following a complaint by its original owner, the Jewish lawyer Dr. Gustav Wachsmuth. He claimed that the seizure was made because of his Czechoslovakian citizenship and was therefore illegal. (50) Nevertheless, prior to the car's return he had to pay repair costs that had been incurred during the period of confiscation, amounting to 168.47 RM. The state's argument was that the value of the car had, after all, increased by this amount. Wachsmuth was lucky. In other cases, such as in that of the Czech bank owner Felix Thorsch or the Hungarian Georg Eissler, vehicles remained confiscated, although these persons were also foreign citizens. (51) The arbitrariness of the Gestapo was evident once again.

There was a vehement conflict between the Gestapo and the party's departments regarding allocation of seized vehicles. The coordination office of the NSDAP, which was responsible for the formerly illegal Austrian National Socialists, managed in negotiations with the Gestapo that National Socialists be compensated with cars that once belonged to Austrian Jews. (52) At least ninety-eight National Socialists, who had lost their vehicles in these five years, benefited from this compensation, (53) but the NSDAP was not satisfied with this alone. The Reich Treasurer of the NSDAP complained in a letter to the Reich Governor that the party had been supplied with 'only unsatisfactory vehicle stock' by the Gestapo during the allocation of cars. Furthermore he also complained that the SS were allowed to choose from the cars at the Gestapo's disposal and that SS people profited from bribes when selling the cars. (54)

There were also intense disputes over the allocation of the few Jewish taxis and taxi licences in Vienna. A cartel of National Socialist taxi and carriage companies used the new political conditions to repress unpopular competitors. (55) It was irrelevant whether the competitors were Jewish or not, which is a further indication that the motives of the 'Aryanisers' were often more economic than anti-Semitic. A key figure in this context was Anton Pressinger, one of the leaders of the Viennese National Socialist Motor Corps ('Nationalsozialistisches Kraftfahrkorps'--NSKK). He was convicted of transporting explosives in 1934, sentenced to fourteen years' imprisonment, and had his taxi confiscated. After the Anschluss he became a leader in the NSKK Motorstandarte ninety-three unit and took over the Carriers' Guild in Vienna. This meant that Pressinger was at the centre of the Aryanisation of taxi companies and he himself also took his share: with the consent of the Reich Governor he took possession of a Steyr forty-five taxi seized from Julian Schwamm. (56) In addition he got back his concession as a taxi driver, was paid 4,000 RM in compensation, and received a concession as a trucking company owner, which had previously been seized from a Jew. (57)

Information about the chaotic conditions in the Ostmark and the self-enrichment of the NS party members, soon reached the Reich Chancellery in Berlin. Lammers, the Reich Minister and head of the Reich Chancellery demanded in a letter dated 7 July 1938 that the Reichsfuhrer SS and head of the German police send a list of all property seized in Austria. Obviously, Adolf Hitler himself wanted to decide in detail what was to be done with the confiscated property. Lammers emphasised specifically that 'the list desired by the Fuhrer should not only comprise confiscated works of art, but should extend to include all property that has been confiscated, irrespective of whether or not they have already been seized.' (58)

Two rapidly composed and utterly incomplete lists were compiled: the first undated list was sent on 14 July 1938 to be presented to Berlin. The 19-page statement mentioned confiscated vehicles only generally: 'Around 1,700 vehicles with an average value of 600 RM each: 1,020,000 RM'. (59) A longer 31-page statement dated 22 July 1938 listed only a few vehicles. (60) The lists were obviously not complete. During the summer of 1938, Viennese departments continued to attempt to gain a general overview of all vehicles that had been confiscated, but without any tangible success. (61) The sub-organizations of the NSDAP had lost track of seizures of the subordinate agencies. In addition, the NSDAP was not ready to accept the Gestapo as the parent state agency.

As far as vehicles were concerned, another organisation was also indignant about the wild confiscations that could no longer be reconstructed: the Army High Command complained to the head of the security police in Berlin that the 'mobilisation preparations of the army in the Ostmark are being hindered by the fact that the large majority of vehicles which, according to police records, should be released for war purposes are unavailable due to confiscation or seizure.' (62) The provision of private vehicles during the invasion of the Sudetenland in October 1938 obviously did not work. The High Command therefore demanded that all vehicles confiscated since March 1938 be recorded immediately and registered by their new owners with the police.

Reference was made to the problem of seized vehicles at a meeting between the Gestapo and the Ministry of the Economy and Employment. (63) At the beginning of November 1938 the Gestapo provided a list of 1,097 vehicles that were confiscated in the Ostmark region and which were now being used by the NSDAP or one of its sections. (64) The list shows that the majority of the vehicles that were confiscated and allocated to the party were used by the SA and the NSKK (Table 3).

However, even this list was incomplete. According to a list prepared by the SS, it was using 330 confiscated vehicles on 24 August 1938; the Gestapo lists only eighty-nine vehicles for the SS. The total number of confiscated vehicles in use by the NSDAP and its sections was put at 1,116 by the SS. (65) At a further meeting on 16 November 1938, which was attended by representatives of the Ministry of the Economy and Employment, the office of the Reich Governor, the inspector of the order police, the Gestapo, the police presidium of Vienna and the NSDAP, the party was told to make a new record of all vehicles it was using. (66) It is unknown whether this ever happened.

After the November Pogrom, which led to further confiscations, including in the Ostmark, the Austrian Ministry of Finance also urged that definite clarification should finally be achieved on the extent of the confiscations. At the beginning of 1939 he complained to Reich Governor Seyss-Inquart that there was 'no evidence of the property seized for the benefit of Austria' and that 'considerable amounts of property belonging to Austria are not mentioned in your evidence and are administered by organs that are not aware of them'. (67) As addressee, the Reich Governor, and also the Reich Commissioner, responded: in two circulars dated 16 and 20 February 1939, the state and party departments were again instructed to compile lists of confiscated items, in particular vehicles, and to submit these quickly. (68) The fear was that an actual seizure did not take place in every case, and the intention was to 'legalise' these retrospectively by means of a corresponding provision according to the 'Ordinance Concerning the Seizure of Subversive and anti-State Property in the country of Austria', (69) to 'avoid later ownership and property conflicts on the part of earlier legal title holders'. (70)

The result of all of these demands on the part of the army and state departments generated supplementary lists with a further 555 confiscated vehicles, so that the count of the number of confiscated vehicles being used by the NSDAP rose to 1,652. (71) Together with the 600-1,000 vehicles that were sold the previous year by the Dorotheum and the vehicles in use by state departments, the total number of vehicles confiscated in the former area of Austria was 2,500-3,000.

In the summer of 1939, lists of confiscated vehicles were sent to the registration authorities and also to the army, which could now update the status of vehicle owners in the Ostmark in the event of war. At the start of the war in 1939 the Reich Provisions Law was passed, which in Section 15 regulated the appropriation of items--including vehicles--for state activities. According to this law, the 'local transport official' of the Reichs Governor in Vienna could demand the use of vehicles from any person or legal entity in exchange for compensation, or order that vehicles be sold compulsorily to certain persons, such as doctors, and NSDAP functionaries if this was in the interest of the war economy. (72) Vehicles for the army, on the other hand, were requisitioned by the Army Replacement Inspectorate (73) which had already carried out regular vehicle examinations, disguised as police inspections in the years previous in the event of mobilisation. (74) By October 1944 a total of 153,058 private vehicles had been seized by the army in the entire German Reich territory. (75)

Automobile ownership in post-war Austria

After the end of the war the transport situation in Austria was catastrophic. In the spring of 1945 eastern Austria became a battleground between the Red Army and the German troops. Countless vehicles were destroyed in battle or were requisitioned from private individuals by the units of the German army and used as means of escape towards the West. While there were still 149,300 vehicles registered in Austria in 1938, after the end of the war, on 1 July 1945, there were only 24,730 (an eighty-four per cent decline).The situation was particularly serious in the capital, Vienna, which had been the most strongly 'motorised' region before the war: of 17,000 passenger cars, only 412 operational cars remained by the end of the war--a decrease of 97.6 per cent. Of the 10,565 trucks in 1938, only 123 were still operational in 1945; motorcycles also declined by more than ninety-six per cent from 19,739 to 616. (76) Motorised vehicles were scarce, which meant that every wreck, every tyre, regardless of how worn, every part that was in some way still usable, became an luxury item. Approximately 2,000 wrecks were counted in Austria. Whereas there were practically no wrecks in southern Austria, the proportion of wrecks in the total number of vehicles was forty-two per cent in Tyrol, forty-six per cent in Vorarlberg, twenty-nine per cent in Lower Austria and twenty-two per cent in Vienna. (77)

Due to the demobilisation law of 12 June 1945, the Austrian Army Office placed a claim on all former Wehrmacht vehicles in Austria, insofar as they had not been confiscated by the Allies. (78) On 30 October 1945 the State Office for Industry, Commerce, Trade and Transport decreed guidelines for the control of transport, which were based on the provisions of the Reich Provision Law, still in effect from the NS period, and which foresaw a strict control of road traffic by the authorities. This meant that private vehicles could still be seized or confiscated for a limited time. (79)

In order to solve the pressing lack of vehicles in post-war Austria, the UNRRA, the relief organisation of the United Nations, delivered 2,800 new trucks to Austria in 1946. The occupying forces also provided help: the Americans sold around 2,500 vehicles that were captured from Germany and the British sold 3,776 German army trucks taken in Italy to the Austrian state. (80) One year after the end of the war, in July 1946, the number of operational trucks had more than doubled and the number of passenger cars had more than quadrupled, yet still only around one-third of the vehicle inventory of 1938 had been reached. Austria's own production of vehicles restarted slowly: in 1946 only 100 new Steyr trucks and 54 Austro Fiat trucks could be manufactured.

A special problem in the early post-war years was created by the ownerless vehicles that had been abandoned in ditches, woods and in fields by Wehrmacht soldiers or by private persons fleeing battles. Shortly after the end of the war, a lawless situation practically dominated. Many private individuals appropriated these vehicles, repaired them, used them or sold them. The occupying troops also requisitioned and allocated vehicles at their own discretion. For instance, Red Army soldiers presented a Viennese butcher with a Steyr 50 from the property of the Hitler Youth as payment for slaughtering some animals. (81) This demonstrates the high value of vehicles, or even of single car parts, in those days.

Only in the summer of 1945 did the state authorities attempt to get access to these vehicles: all vehicles, including wrecks and car parts, had to be registered with the authorities. If no valid registration papers could be displayed, the vehicle was seized and taken into state ownership. The user was free, however, to rent the vehicle. The authorities were overwhelmed by search requests for vehicles that had been towed away in the last weeks of the war. Many East Europeans also sought the vehicles that had been stolen from them by the Wehrmacht. Vehicles of Soviet or French origin had to be registered with the relevant occupying force so that checks could be made to see on any confiscated vehicles. (82)

Insofar as they still existed at all, it was only in very rare cases that vehicles were returned to their original owners. In many instances the documents of the registration offices had been destroyed and it was impossible to establish who the rightful owner was. A central file was planned for 1948 by the Federal Ministry for Trade and Reconstruction in cooperation with the Central Statistics Office, to detail all vehicles lost during the war, but it ultimately failed for reasons unknown. (83) In September 1948, therefore, the Austrian motorists' club OAMTC started its own vehicle search campaign for missing vehicles. (84) This was not successful either. At the end of the 1940s the state began to sell the ownerless cars to private individuals.

Restitution of Jewish-owned vehicles

If it was almost impossible, due to the conditions in the transport offices at the time, to find vehicles that had got lost shortly before the end of the war, it was even more difficult to trace and return to their rightful owners the vehicles that had been 'Aryanised' just after the Anschluss in 1938. Search requests of Jewish emigrants who were looking for the vehicles that were seized from them in Austria are documented in the archives. Gustav Fuchs from New York and Hans Fuchs from Tel Aviv, for example, attempted in 1948 to find their Steyr 50, which had been appropriated by the Hitler Youth. (85) Paul Klein, who had lived in Zwettl/Lower Austria until 1938 before emigrating to Cleveland in the USA, also requested a search in 1948 for his Steyr 50, which had been confiscated by the Nazis--without success. (86) Only a few managed to achieve at least partial success: the Gottesmann family from Vienna owned a Steyr 100 in 1938. After the Anschluss the car was driven away from the garage by unknown persons. Dr. Leo Gottesmann, who had emigrated to the USA, placed a claim in 1949 for the return of the vehicle taken from his family. The Austrian authorities actually managed to trace the vehicle in question: the Steyr 100 was found in 1945 as a wreck in a ditch near Stein an der Donau in Lower Austria. The Federal Ministry for Securing Property had taken the car wreck, which no longer worked, and had loaned it to the Austria Tabak company, which kept it on hand in order to have spare parts for another Steyr 100. The Restitution Commission decided on 14 April 1950 that Austria Tabak should return to Dr. Leo Gottesmann 'within fourteen days a Steyr 100 C2803 engine, a front spring including transverse, a radiator, a steering wheel, a cardan shaft and two front mudguards'. (87) Those were the only parts that could still be linked to the original car. It is not known whether these were sent to the USA, but the case once again illustrates on the one hand how valuable each car part was in the early post-war years, and on the other, how complicated it was to restore vehicles to their rightful owners. One principle of the Austrian restitution laws is demonstrated very clearly by this story: only that which still existed was returned.

The few documented restitution cases usually ended with comparisons: Fritz Lowy, who owned a Steyr 50 in 1938, was granted compensation in 1949 from an 'Aryaniser', the butcher Alois Schmolz, to the amount of 500 Austrian schillings. (88) In a very few cases, however, the seized vehicle was restored directly: the taxi chauffeur Viktor Koppel, for example, got back his Fiat 1001 taxi in November 1949 on the orders of the Restitution Commission at Vienna's District Civil Court. (89)


Very few vehicles were returned to their original owners after the war. There are also very few known cases of financial compensation. According to a law regulating the reporting of seized property, (90) which was passed in the autumn of 1946, everyone who profited from Aryanisation had to report the property they had acquired to the authorities. In the thousands of files, only one has been found so far in which the purchase of a vehicle was reported. After 1945 most people had no sense of guilt about continuing to use vehicles formerly owned by Jews and purchased cheaply. Even after 1945 they remained silent beneficiaries and profiteers of the National Socialist regime.

Yet vehicles that had once been in Jewish possession appeared again and again--now as vintage cars--in museums of technology. The final restitution was that given to F. Gluckselig from Buenos Aires in 2008: he got back his mother's Fiat 522 C which the SA had confiscated in Vienna on 16 March 1938. For decades the vehicle stood in the depot of the Technical Museum in Vienna. (91)

The Gluckselig restoration was the starting point of the research behind this paper. Now, by means of electronic requests, (92) former owners or their descendants can search the internet for vehicles that were seized from their families, decades ago. Some vehicles may still be in the hands of vintage car enthusiasts or museums. The original owner descendant of a car in the Technical Museum, an Austro Daimler ADR built in 1930, engine number 24001, has yet to come forward to claim it. It was confiscated by the Gestapo in 1938 and auctioned in the Dorotheum on 10 August 1938.

Christian Klosch

Technisches Museum Wien


(1) A database on the vehicles seized by the Nazis has recently gone online in Austria and can be accessed under NS-KFZ-Raub on the website of the Technical Museum of Vienna ( The 500 confiscated cars will be soon added to this database. See: Federal State Archive Berlin (BA Berlin), R 58, 1861.

(2) On this point see, e.g. Hans Momsen and Manfred Krieger, Das Volkswagenwerk und seine Arbeiter im Dritten Reich (Dusseldorf, Econ Verleg, 1996); Erhard Schutz and Ekhard Gruber, Mythos Reichsautobahn: Bau und Inszenierung der, Strafien des Fuhrers 1933-41 (Berlin, links, 1996).

(3) Dorothee Hochstetter, Motorisierung und Wolksgemeinschaff. Das Nationalsozialistische Kraftfahrkorps (NSKK) 1931-45 (=Studien zur Zeitgeschichte, Bd. 68), (Munchen, Oldenburg Wissenschaftsverlag, 2005).

(4) Oliver Kuhschelm, Kraftfahrzeuge als Gegenstand von 'Arisierungen : Provenienzforschung zur Kraftfahrzeugsammlung des Deutschen Museums und Forschungen zur Enteignung von Kraftfahrzeugen in Bayern, Reprint Heft 4 (Munchen, Deutsches Museum, 2012). (http://

(5) On this point see, e.g Austrian State Archive Vienna (OStA), AdR Juva, Kat. 1, Verfugung, Gestapo Innsbruck, 29 April 1938.

(6) Frank Steinbeck, Das Motorrad. Ein deutscher Sonderweg in die automobile Gesellschaft (Berlin, Franz Steiner Verlag, 2009), p. 236.

(7) See Frank Bajohr, Arisierung und Restitution. Eine Einschatzung. Arisierung und Restitution. Die Ruckerstattung judischen Eigentums in Deutschland und Osterreich nach 1945 und 1989', in Constantin Goschler and Jurgen Lillteicher (eds), 'Arisierung' und Restitution. Die Ruckerstattung judischen Eigentums in Deutschland und Osterreich (Gottingen, Wallstein Verlag, 2002), pp. 39-59.

(8) Victor Klemperer, Ich will Zeugnis ablegen bis zum Letzen. Tagebucher 1933-41, (Frankfurt, Aufbau Verlag), pp. 239, 52, 342.

(9) Michael John, 'Der Automobilismus der Zwischenkriegszeit--Elitares Transportsystem und Wirtschaftsfaktor', Historicum. Zeitschrift fur Geschichte (Sommer, 1998), 31-42, 41.

(10) Note: The term 'Michl' is an expression, created in Early Modern times, for the ideal personification of Germanness. Vorarlberger Volksblatt, 3.7.1902, cited in: Emmerich Gmeiner, Eugen Zardetti und die Auto-Vorarlberger. Eine Geschichte des fruhen Automobilismus im Landle (Hard, Hecht Verlag, 2007), p. 204.

(11) On this point see, e.g Uwe Fraunholz, Motorphobia. Anti-automobiler Protest in Kaiserreich und Weimarer Republik (= Kritische Studien zur Geschichtswissenschaft; Bd. 156) (Gottingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2002), and Christoph Maria Merki, Der holprige Siegeszug des Automobils 1895-1930. Zur Motorisierung des Strafienverkehrs in Frankreich, Deutschland und der Schweiz (Wien, Bohlau, 2002).

(12) Hugo Bettauer, Die Stadt ohne Juden. Ein Roman von ubermorgen (Wien, Gloriette Verlag, 1924) p. 7. On this point see Bruce F. Pauley, Eine Geschichte des osterreichischen Antisemitismus: von der Ausgrenzung zur Ausloschung (Wien, Kremayr & Scheriau, 1993), pp. 147-50.

(13) Bettauer, Die Stadt ohne Juden, p. 50.

(14) Ibid., p. 51.

(15) Gerhard Botz, 'Ausgrenzung, Beraubung und Vernichtung. Das Ende des Wiener Judentums unter der nationalsozialistischen Herrschaft (1938-45)', Zerstoerte Kultur: Judisches Leben und Antisemtismus in Wien seit dem 19. Jahrhundert (Wien, CzerninVerlag, 2002), pp. 315-39, 316.

(16) Frank Bajohr, Parvenus und Profiteure--Korruption in der NS Zeit (Frankfurt, S. Fischer 2001), p. 240.

(17) The exact number of motorcycles owned by Jews is unknown as there are no directories to the owners of motorcycles in Vienna in the 1930s.

(18) This survey is based on the evaluation of the approx. 50,000 declarations of property by Austrian Jews from the inventory of the Property Transactions Office in the Austrian State Archive, the emigration files of the Jewish Community in Vienna and the Viennese vehicle directory of 1937.

(19) Motorcycles are not recorded in the Viennese vehicle directory, but Jewish motorcyclists are clearly underrepresented among those persons who had to submit a declaration of property, since Jewish persons only had to declare their property when it exceeded the value of 5,000 RM. Motorcycle owners were therefore usually not obliged to declare.

(20) Die Ergebnisse der osterreichischen Volkszahlung vom 22.3.1934 bearbeitet vom Bundesamt fur Statistik, Vol. 3, Wien (Wien, Bundesverlag, 1935), p. 4.

(21) Hans Lindenbaum and Peter Staudacher, Bewegung und Beharrung. Transport und Transportsysteme in Osterreich 1918-38: Eisenbahn, Automobil, Tramway (Wien-KolnWeimar, Bohlau, 1994), p. 205.

(22) OStA, AdR, Vermogensverkehrsstelle, VA 44407, Heinrich Hubner u. VA 31192, Selma Baum.

(23) On this point see, e.g.: Gerhard Botz, Nationalsozialismus in Wien. Machtubernahme, Herrschaftssicherung, Radikalisierung 1938/39, (Wien, Bohlau, 2008); Hans Safrian and Hans Witek, Und keiner war dabei. Dokumente des alltaglichen Antisemitismus in Wien 1938 (Wien, Picus, 2008); Gabrielle Anderl, Edith Blaschitz, Sabine Loitfellner, Mirijam Triendl and Niko Wahl, 'Arisierung' vonMobilien (=Veroffentlichungen der Osterreichischen Historikerkommission. Vermogensentzug wahrend der NS-Zeit sowie Ruckstellungen und Entschadigungen seit 1945 in Osterreich, Bd. 15), (Wien, Oldenburg, 2004).

(24) Herbert Rosenkranz, Verfolgung und Selbstbehauptung der Juden in Osterreich 1938-45 (Wien, Herold, 1978) p. 28.

(25) OStA, AdR, Historikerkommission, Berlin, Kt. 1 (8. Tranche), Landesarchiv Berlin, Brep. 039-01 Nr. 333, Abschrift, eidesstattliche Versicherung, Anton Brodl, ehem. Beamter d. Gestapo Wien, 23 October 1939.

(26) Reichsgesetzblatt (RGBl.) 1938, Teil I, p. 262.

(27) Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance DOW 20721/62, Abschrift der Verfugung Beschlagnahme Steyr 30, A 15787, 30 April 1938.

(28) On this point see: Hans Safrian, 'Beschleunigung der Beraubung und Vertreibung. Zur Bedeutung des 'Wiener Modells' fur die antijudische Politik des 'Dritten Reiches' im Jahr 1938', Constantin Goschler and Jurgen Lillteicher (eds), Arisierung' und Restitution. Die Ruckerstattung judischen Eigentums in Deutschland und Osterreich nach 1945 und 1989 (Gottingen, Wallstein Verlag, 2002), pp. 61-89, 74; OStA, AdR, Historikerkommission, Berlin, Kt. 1 (8. Tranche), Landesarchiv Berlin, Brep. 039-01 Nr. 333, Bundesarchiv an das Landgericht Berlin, 1 December 1961.

(29) OStA, AdR, Burckel Materie, Kt. 65, Ordner 2035, Beschlagnahmte Fahrzeuge, Gemeinde Wien Stadtische Versicherungsanstalt an Gauleiter Burckel, 12 May 1938.

(30) OStA, AdR, Burckel Materie, Kt. 65, Ordner 2035, Beschlagnahmte Fahrzeuge, Gestapo Wien to Reichskommissar fur die Wiedervereinigung Osterreichs mit dem Deutschen Reich, 9 August 1938.

(31) OStA, AdR, Vermogensverkehrsstelle, VA 14465.

(32) Archiv der Bank Austria Vienna, CA-IB, AVA, 01/05, AVA to CA, 20 July 1938.

(33) OStA, AdR, BKA-Inneres, Kt. 37, Zl. RSt I.M.II-10607/40, Reichskommissar to Buchhaltung d. Reichstatthalters, 14 May 1940; Archiv der Bank Austria, CA-IB, AVA, 01/05, Wirtschaftsbericht uber den Rechnungsabschluss 1939; Ibid., Wilhelm MullerFembeck to AVA, 16 August 1939.

(34) On the confiscation of vehicles in the German Reich see: Dorothee Hochstetter, Motorisierung und 'VolksgemeinschaftDas Nationalsozialistische Kraftfahrkorps (NSKK) 1931-45 (=Studien zur Zeitgeschichte, Bd. 68), (Munchen, Oldenburg Wissenschaftsverlag, 2005).

(35) OStA, AdR, Bundeskanzleramt-Prasidium, Rst. I 2366/39, Minister fur Wirtschaft und Arbeit to Reichsverkehrsministerium Berlin, 31 January 1939.

(36) Joseph Walk (ed.), Das Sonderrecht fur Juden im NS-Staat. Eine Sammlung der gesetzlichen Mafinahmen und Richtlinien--Inhalt und Bedeutung, (Karlsruhe, C.F. Muller, 1981).

(37) OStA, AdR, Vermogensverkehrsstelle, VA 15358, Gertrude Blitz.

(38) Written notification of Peter Pollinger, 1 November 2011.

(39) OStA, AdR, Bundesministerium fur Handel und Verkehr, Kt. 3865, Zl. 50370-III/3a/1939, 1.2.1939.

(40) OStA, AdR, Bundeskanzleramt-Prasidium, RSt I-3457/39, Zl. 3836-Pr./1938, 3.5.1938 u. OStA, AdR, Burckel Materie, Kt. 65, Ordner 2035, Beschlagnahmte Fahrzeuge, Meldung beschlagnahmter Kraftfahrzeuge, 4 May 1938. The SS assumed in August 1938 that 40% of vehicles had been confiscated by the Gestapo and 60% by the NSDAP and its sections. BA Berlin, NS19/1141, Vermerk, 24 August 1938.

(41) OStA, AdR, Historikerkommission, Berlin, Kt. 1 (8. Tranche), Landesarchiv Berlin, Brep. 039-01 Nr. 333, Verzeichnis der in Osterreich eingezogenen Vermogenswerte, Staatspolizeileitstelle Wien, 1938.

(42) OStA, AdR 06, BMfF, Abwicklungsstelle, Kt. 2, Reichsfuhrer SS to Staatspolizeileitstelle Wien, 15 March 1939.

(43) OStA, AdR, Bundeskanzleramt-Prasidium, RSt I-3457/39, Zl. 137.276-16, Ministerium fur Wirtschaft und Arbeit to Reichstatthalter, 8 November 1938; BA Berlin, R 3102/4346, Rechnungsbericht der Betriebsfuhrung des Dorotheums uber das Geschaftsjahr 1938, p 36.

(44) WStLA, VEAV, 1. Bez. Zl. 1077 N, Josef Katlein.

(45) OStA, AdR, Vermogensverkehrsstelle, VA 12303, Markus Schlaffer; VA 38778, Jakob Thurnauer; VA 45690, Carl Moldauer.

(46) OStA, AdR, NS-Vermittlungsstelle, Kt. 2, Ordner 26, NS-Vermittlungsstelle to Gau Oberdonau, 10 September 1938.

(47) OStA, AdR, Burckel Materie Kt. 8, Ordner 1270, Fahrzeugwesen, 1 April 1938.

(48) OStA, AdR, BKA-Inneres, Kt. 36, Zl. II4-214918/38; Kt. 37, Zl. J-12613/1940, 5.6.40; Kt. 37 Zl. II-4-124496/39.

(49) OStA, AdR, Bundeskanzleramt-Prasidium, Zl. 9275/38, 21.10.1938; OStA, AdR, BKAInneres, Kt. 36, Zl. 187724/5-1938, 20.6.1938.

(50) OStA, AdR, BKA-Inneres, Kt. 36, Zl. 190375-5/38.

(51) OStA, AdR, Vermogensverkehrsstelle, VA 7186 u. VA 35476.

(52) On this point see lists in: OStA, AdR, NS-Vermittlungsstelle, Kt. 2, Ordner 26, Reichstatthalter to NS-Vermittlungsstelle, 29 July 1938.

(53) OStA, AdR, NS-Vermittlungsstelle, Kt. 16, Ordner 88 u. OStA, AdR, NSVermittlungsstelle, Kt. 5, Ordner 58.

(54) OStA, AdR, Burckel Materie, Kt. 65, Ordner 2035, Beschlagnahmte Fahrzeuge, NSDAP Finanz--und Parteiverwaltung to Reichstatthalter, 18 August 1938.

(55) The so called, NS Wirtschaftsgenossenschaft der Fuhrwerkunternehmer reg. Gen. m.b.H. OStA, AdR, NS-Vermittlungsstelle, Kt. 2, Ordner 26, Rundschreiben, 22 June 1938.

(56) OStA, AdR, Gauakten, Anton Pressinger, Wr. Fuhrwerkerzunft to Amt des Reichstatthalters, 16 August 1938.

(57) OStA, AdR, Gauakten, Anton Pressinger.

(58) OStA, AdR, Bundesministerium fur Handel und Verkehr, Kt. 214, Zl. 155913-R/38, Amt des Reichstatthalters Zl. 42.247--Prot 1/38, Copy of RK 13457B, 7 July 1938.

(59) OStA, AdR, Historikerkommission, Berlin, Kt. 1 (8. Tranche), Landesarchiv Berlin, Brep. 039-01 Nr. 333, Verzeichnis der in Osterreich eingezogenen Vermogenswerte, Staatspolizeileitstelle Wien.

(60) OStA, AdR, Historikerkommission, Berlin, Kt. 1 (8. Tranche), Landesarchiv Berlin, Brep. 039-01 Nr. 333, Verzeichnis der in der Ostmark eingezogenen bzw. beschlagnahmten Vermogenswerte wegen volks--und staatsfeindlicher Betatigung, 22 July 1938. See OStA, AdR, Burckel Materie, Kt. 65, Ordner 2035/1, Beschlagnahmte Vermogenswerte.

(61) OStA, AdR, Bundesministerium fur Handel und Verkehr, Kt. 214, Zl. 155913-R/38, 16.7.1938; Ibid, Zl. 156481-R/38.

(62) OStA, AdR 06, BMfF, Abwicklungsstelle, Kt. 1, Zl. 1801/16/39, Minister fur Finanzen to Gauleiter Burckel, 17 January 1939 und BA Berlin, NS 19/1141, Aktenvermerk, 24 August 1938.

(63) OStA, AdR, Bundeskanzleramt-Prasidium, RSt I-3457/39, Zl. 137.276-16, Ministerium fur Wirtschaft und Arbeit to Reichstatthalter, 8 November 1938.

(64) OStA, AdR, Bundeskanzleramt-Prasidium, RSt I-3457/39, RSt I 14442/38, Inspektor der Sicherheitspolizei to Amt des Reichstatthalters, 10 November 1938; Ibid., RSt I-3997/39, Einlageblatt.

(65) Federal State Archive Berlin, BA Berlin, NS 19/1141, Aktenvermerk, 24 August 1938.

(66) OStA, AdR, Bundeskanzleramt-Prasidium, RSt I-3457/39, RST I 17139/38, Aktenvermerk uber die am 16.11. 1938 im Ministerium fur Wirtschaft und Arbeit abgehaltene Besprechung.

(67) OStA, AdR 06, BMfF, Abwicklungsstelle, Kt. 1, Zl. 1801/16/39, Minister fur Finanzen to Gauleiter Burckel, 17 January 1939.

(68) OStA, AdR 06, BMfF, Abwicklungsstelle, Kt. 1, Zl. 400.999-I/2/38, Runderlass, 16 February 1939.

(69) OStA, AdR, Burckel rot, Kt. 5, Beschlagnahmte Liegenschaften, Bewegl. Vermogen, Rundschreiben Reichskommissar Burckel, 20 February 1939.

(70) See footnote 64.

(71) OStA, AdR, Bundeskanzleramt-Prasidium, RSt I-3457/39, RSt I-3997/39, Verzeichnis, 21.3.1939.

(72) RGBl 1939, Teil I, S.1645; see OStA, AdR, Bundesministerium fur Handel und Wiederaufbau, Kt. 212, Zl. 121510-VI/31/46 u. BH Operpullendorf, Anmeldung entzogenen Vermogens, Franz Fertsak, 13 November 1948.

(73) OOLA, BH Ried, Kt. 272, Abt 2/16/584, Schriftwechsel Wehrersatz-Inspektion Oberosterreich mit der BH Ried.

(74) State Archive Vorarlberg, VLA, Amt der Vorarlberger Landesregierung II, Schachtel 833, AZ 23/2, 2. Gebirgsdivision to Landeshauptmannschaft Vorarlberg, 4 July 1938.

(75) BA Berlin, R 1501/2936, Deutsche Automobil Treuhand to Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, 12 October 1944.

(76) OStA, AdR, Bundesministerium fur Handel und Wiederaufbau, Kt. 214, Zl. 112651/46, Kriegszerstorung und Wiederherstellung von StraEentransportmitteln, 9 July 1946.

(77) OStA, AdR, Bundesministerium fur Handel und Wiederaufbau, Kt. 212, Zl. 111911/46, Kraftfahrzeugbestand.

(78) State Archive of Lower Austria (NOLA), BH Baden, Kt. 301 a, Heeresamt to BH Baden, 18 August 1946.

(79) OStA, AdR, Bundesministerium fur Handel und Wiederaufbau, Kt. 215, Zl. 121.324-VI/31/46, Bericht betreffend Verkehrslenkung, 29 August 1946 u. Zl. 205533/1946.

(80) OStA, AdR, Bundesministerium fur Handel und Wiederaufbau, Kt. 214, Zl. 112599-IV/31-46, Kraftfahrzeugbeschaffung und Verteilung, 5 July 1946; BLA, Burgenlandische Landesregierung, Zl. XII/2/L-13-46, Raab-Odenburg-Bahn to Burgenlandische Landesregierung, 6. March 1946; OStA, AdR, Bundesministerium fur Handel und Wiederaufbau, Kt. 478, Zl 195.782-VI/31/47.

(81) OStA, AdR, Bundesministerium fur Vermogenssicherung, Zl. 61863-3/49.

(82) NOlA BH Korneuburg, 1949, Gr X/133-137, Amt d. NO Landesregierung to BH Korneuburg, 14 February 1949; NOLA, BH Baden, 301 b, X/137 Allgemein, 1947, Amt d. NO Landesregierung, GZLAI/ 7b-4263-1946; NOLA BH Korneuburg, 1949, Gr X/133-137, Amt d. NO Landesregierung to BH Korneuburg, 14 February 1949.

(83) NOLA, BH Baden, 301a, X/137 Allgemein, 1948, Amt d. NO Landesregierung to BH Baden, 20 October 1948.

(84) NOLA, BH Korneuburg, Gr X 1949, OAMTC Kraftfahrzeugsfahndungsaktion Liste 1, 16 September 1948.

(85) NOLA, BH Hollabrunn, Kt. 340, RA K. Landau to BH Hollabrunn, 13.11.1948.

(86) NOLA, BH Korneuburg, Gr X 1948, I. Teil, Ordner Zl. 1-200, BH Zwettl to BH Korneuburg, 24 February 1948.

(87) WStLA, VeAV, 1. Bez., C430, Ruckstellungserkenntnis, 63RK 1123/49-10, 14 April 1950. OStA, AdR, BM VS, Abt. 3, Card Steyr 100, C2803.

(88) OStA, AdR, Vermogensverkehrsstelle, VA 25537 u. WStLA, VeAV, 13. Bez., C30, Ruckstellungserkenntnis, 63RK 865/48-14, 23 May 1949.

(89) WStLA, VeAV, 10. Bez., 30, Ruckstellungserkenntnis, 63RK 411/48-10, 26 November 1949.

(90) Vermogensentziehungsanmeldeverordnung, BGB. Nr. 166/1946, 16 September 1946.

(91) On this point see: Christian Klosch, 'Die Provenienzforschung zu arisierten Kraftfahrzeugen am Beispiel des Kraftfahrzeugbestands des Technischen Museums Wien', in Gabriele Anderl (ed.), ... wesentlich mehr Falle als angenommen. 10 Jahre Kommission fur Provenienzforschung (Wien, Bohlau, 2009), pp. 442-52.

(92) See footnote 1.


Christian Klosch studied History and Philosophy at the University of Graz and the University of Vienna. He has researched, taught and published in 20th century Austrian history. He has been a researcher in the Historikerkommission (Historical Commission of the Republic of Austria) and the Kommission fur Provenienzforschung (Austrian Commission for Provenance Research). He was leader of the research project 'Confiscation and Restitution of Motor Vehicles by the Nazi Regime'. Since 2005 he has done research with the Technisches Museum Wien. E-mail:

Table 1 Motorised vehicles in Vienna and in Jewish possession prior
to the Anschluss

                        Vehicle type      number   percentage

Motorised vehicles in   Buses             296      1.6
Vienna pre-1938
                        Trucks            5,964    31.4
                        Passenger cars    10,257   54.1
                        Taxis             2,459    13.0

                        Total             18,976   100.0

Jewish-owned            Buses             16       0.6
                        Trucks            378      14.7
                        Passenger cars    2,096    81.4
                        Taxis             85       3.3

                        Total             2,575    100.0

Table 2 Age distribution of Jewish vehicle owners compared to the
Austrian residential population

Age group       Number   Jewish car drivers %   Residential
                                                of Vienna %

Over 80 years   5        0.30                   0.9
70-79 years     60       3.60                   4.6
60-69 years     210      12.59                  10.8
50-59 years     392      23.50                  17.5
40-49 years     524      31.41                  20.4
30-39 years     385      23.08                  23.5
20-29 years     92       5.52                   22.2

Total           1668     100.00                 99.9

Source: Die Ergebnisse der osterreichischen Volkszahlung 1935, p. 8

Table 3 Allocation of vehicle confiscations by
recipient, March and November 1938

                           Confiscated vehicles

Organisation               number   percentage

SA Danube Group            484      44.1
NSKK                       221      20.1
NSDAP Vienna District      144      13.1
SS Danube Higher Section   89       8.1
NSBO                       46       4.2
HJ                         30       2.7
NSV                        25       2.3
Other departments          23       2.1
Tyrol District             10       0.9
NSDAP Amstetten            9        0.8
NSDAP St. Polten           7        0.6
Reich Propaganda Office    5        0.5
National Cultural Office   4        0.4
Total                      1,097    100.0

Source: OStA, AdR, Bundeskanzleramt-Prasidium,
RSt I-3457/39, RSt I 14442/38, Inspektor der
Sicherheitspolizei to Amt des Reichstatthalters,
10 November 1938; Ibid., RSt I-3997/39, Einlageblatt.
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Author:Klosch, Christian
Publication:The Journal of Transport History
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:4EUAU
Date:Dec 1, 2013
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