"They Took the Other Road" - Organized Resistance in Austria

Many of the Communist propaganda activities such as scattering and smearing actions, were carried out by members of the illegal Communist Youth. Not only did they try to penetrate the Hitler Youth, they also sent anti-Nazi letters to young soldiers and produced illegal writings such as the magazines "Soldatenrat" (Soldiers' Council) or "Die rote Jugend" (The Red Youth). The National Socialist apparatus of repression turned against these young activists with relentless cruelty; many of them, hardly twenty years old, were executed.


Walter Kämpf (photo: DÖW)

As a leading functionary of the Communist Youth, the chemist Walter Kämpf (1920-1943) was decisively involved in the preparation of illegal papers, flyers, and pamphlets. Like other activists of the Communist Youth, he was betrayed by Gestapo snitches. Walter Kämpf was executed at the Regional Court Vienna on November 2, 1943. (Photo DÖW)



"The snitches are 'Herta - Olga - Gretl - Sonja,' lives in the 14th district on Selzergasse no. ? at Glaser's or Gläser's. The latter is her boyfriend - snitch 'Ossi.' Furthermore, the Kutni [correct: Koutny] brothers, Ziegelofengasse 25, their sister Hermine, and 'Kahane' - Herta's brother? They betrayed, among others, also Fredi's brother. Therefore, everything concerning me and my friends (also 9th district) is completely known as well. [...] Warn party comrades of snitches I mentioned. They all sit in the party committee (Youth was clean) and bust every new central committee, in part old functionaries who buy their life from the Gestapo. [...] Through medieval torture, Gestapo gets everybody to spill [= confess]. [...] Regierungsrat [civil servant title] Höfler kept beating me up and had me hang on my hands. He had eight liters of water spill into Fritzl (has only one sick kidney), then he threatened with another five liters, took [him] to the 'Liesl' [= police jail Elisabethpromenade, later Roßauer Lände] and showed him his mother through the peephole, who would only be released after his confession. He then spilled [...] and really had to spill everything except for Pospischil about whom nobody knew except me."

Excerpt from a secret message (smuggled out of jail) from Walter Kämpf.



Disguised as "French" workers


In early 1943, more than forty Communist resistance fighters, many of them Jews according to the "Nuremberg Laws" who had escaped to France, returned to Austria. Disguised as French "foreign workers," they were expected to provide the resistance with new impulses. After the Gestapo arrested one of them in spring 1943 and extracted the names of other activists through torture, they were arrested and subjected to brutal interrogations. Most of them were deported to concentration camps. A group of Viennese Gestapo officers traveled to France, which was occupied by Nazi Germany, and arrested between fall 1943 and spring 1944 many of the Austrian resistance fighters active in Paris and Lyon.


Selma Steinmetz (photo: DÖW)

The Viennese resistance fighter Dr. Selma Steinmetz reported in her witness account of June 28, 1946 before the police headquarters Vienna about the abuse she suffered at the hands of Gestapo officer Eduard Tucek in June 1944 in Lyon. (Photo DÖW)


Eduard Tucek, born in 1901 in Vienna, since 1928 in police service, moved to the Gestapo Headquarters Vienna in 1941. Together with a few other Viennese Gestapo members, he was sent to France in 1943/44 to trace Austrian resistance fighters there. In 1947, he was sentenced to five years imprisonment in France. In Austria, no charges were pressed against him.




"Tucek wanted to find out from me by any means the names and addresses of those I had been in contact with and who had worked for the resistance movement. Since we lived there illegally and in a strictly conspirative manner, I knew neither the true names nor addresses of most of them, thus, for the life of me, I wouldn't have been able to reveal anything. I was enchained by Tucek, at first, he hit with his bare fists. Then he helped himself to a bull pizzle with which he flogged me all over so that my body was full of bloody welts and my skin was hanging in shreds. The following day he applied the bath method. I had to undress down to my underwear, was tied up hands and feet, and put into the bathtub, which was filled with cold water. On and on, my head kept being pushed underwater, when my head emerged from the water, a shower was held to my face so that again I was hardly able to catch air because of the water jet. Then he pulled me up on my tied feet so that my head got again underwater. I thought I'd suffocate at any moment. Tucek carried out these tortures quasi as a training session since several young Gestapo officers were present to whom he explained through demonstration how to go about these treatments to get the prisoners talking."

Witness account by Selma Steinmetz before the police headquarters Vienna, June 28, 1946





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