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

The Soviet secret service, in collaboration with the British secret service, deployed parachute agents - mostly Austrian Communists who had emigrated to the Soviet Union - in Austria. Since the Communist resistance groups were infiltrated by Gestapo informers, most of these parachutists ended up in Gestapo hands. Usually they were observed for a while after their landing and then arrested together with their liaisons and supporters; almost all of them were murdered.


By means of torture, Johann Sanitzer, the Gestapo officer in charge of fighting parachute agents, was able to "turn" them and to force them to carry out "radio games," that is, to establish radio contacts with their employers abroad. That way, more parachutists flown into Austria could be arrested.


Rosa Grossmann (photo: DÖW)

Rosa Grossmann and her parents Johann und Elisabeth Brunner were arrested by the Gestapo on October 25, 1943 because of contacts with Gregor Kersche, a parachutist coming from the Soviet Union and functionary of the Communist Party of Austria. To avoid betraying fellow fighters under torture, she threw herself down the stairwell from the fourth floor of the Gestapo building; she survived severely injured. The photograph, which shows Rosa Grossmann with her little daughter, was taken few weeks before her arrest. (Photo: DÖW)




"When Brödl was tired of beating, he would hand over the cane to this young Gestapo officer, but a short while later, Brödl would demand the cane back with the remark: 'That's nothing' and continue beating me up like crazy. As a result of these abuses, I fainted a few times. Occasionally, he ordered me to get up and, for a change, tied up my hands instead of in front, [behind] on my back and pushed my arms upward so that I already thought my bones would break. All this while slapping me forcefully. He also pulled the chain ever more strongly and asked derisively: 'Well, still haven't figured it out, still don't want to tell the truth?' As I was lying on the divan, Brödl kicked me with his feet several times in my stomach. [...] Then he took me back to Roßauer Lände. [...] Hardly twenty minutes had passed and again I was [...] summoned to Morzinplatz. The young officer, whose name I don't know, took me up to Morzinplatz over the front staircase and when we had almost reached the fourth floor, I managed to jump over the guardrail as I wanted to throw myself down. As the upper part of my body was already hanging over the rail, the Gestapo officer caught a foot of mine, but I kicked his stomach with the other foot whereupon he let go of me and I plunged into the depth. I regained consciousness only at the Vienna General Hospital [...]."

Witness account of Rosa Grossmann before the police headquarters Vienna, December 19, 1946



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