When the Nazis Stole My Painting
And the Austrians didn’t much care

<I>Hungarian Shepherd Boy</I>, by Johann Gualbert Raffalt


Adolf Eichmann had overall responsibility for the measures put in place to rob and destroy the Jews of Austria, and one of his men had charge of everything to do with Gustav Springer and his descendants. The staff of the Springer Waisenhaus and all the children in their care were deported, first to Theresienstadt, and later to Auschwitz, where they were murdered. The only one who returned was Frau Margoulies, daughter of the director of the orphanage, and a distinguished elderly lady by the time I knew her. The orphanage itself, its building and grounds, were declared abandoned property, and expropriated by the municipality whose blocks of subsidized housing today occupy the site. Years ago I enquired into this, and was told that everything had been done according to the law.

Official documents in my possession bear the stamp of the Nazi eagle at the top of the sheet and the typewritten greeting “Heil Hitler!” above the signature at the bottom, which is often illegible, as though the writer wished to be protected from identification. In a letter dated Dec. 1, 1939, one of these illegible signers describes himself as the Head of State Collections and draws the attention of the authorities to what he calls the “rich inventory” and “outstanding things” to be found at Meidling. In his opening paragraph he makes the all-important point that the owner is a “Jewess with English citizenship.” Six weeks later, on Jan. 14, 1940, the Gestapo duly expropriated the house.

April 4, 2011    |     Volume LXIII, No. 6

Books, Arts & Manners
  • Adam Garfinkle reviews Known and Unknown: A Memoir, by Donald Rumsfeld.
  • Ethan Gutmann reviews Tragedy in Crimson: How the Dalai Lama Conquered the World but Lost the Battle with China, by Tim Johnson.
  • John Derbyshire reviews The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement, by David Brooks.
  • Ross Douthat reviews Battle: Los Angeles.
  • Richard Brookhiser breaks down a concert.
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
The Bent Pin  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .