Trans Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 15. Nr. August 2004

10.5. Forms of Life: Theatre Forms as an Articulated Way of Life
HerausgeberIn | Editor | Éditeur: Herbert Gantschacher (Klagenfurt)

Buch: Das Verbindende der Kulturen | Book: The Unifying Aspects of Cultures | Livre: Les points communs des cultures

The Files of the Nationalsocialistic Authority Dealing with Properties (Vermögensverkehrsstelle) within the Archive of the Republic and the Records of Restitution

Hubert Steiner (Vienna)


Legal foundations

While the NS laws of Nürnberg provided for the legal status of Jews through the Reich civil law (Reichsbürgergesetz) and the NS blood protection law (Blutschutzgesetz) intended the "biological solution of the Jewish problem" the legal status of Jews in economic field was not determined by law at first.

Before that time only individual areas concerning the economic position of Jews were determined by law. Thus, the admission to carry on certain professions was withdrawn from Jews, the interests of which "affects the life interests of the German people" as, e.g. the production of weapons, or they were dismissed from activities bringing about a position of particular confidence like the activity of a tax consultant or of an auditor. The consequence of the diverse regulations on the economic position of Jews also affected members of the NSDAP, civil servants and authorities, as, e.g. the prohibition to buy goods in Jewish shops, or the awarding of public contracts. This matter was dealt with the regulation on the declaration of Jewish property enacted on the 26th April 1938.

The quoted regulation referred to all Jews without consideration of their commercial or other professional activities. According to this Jews were submitted to a threefold obligation. They had to report their properties, declare their values and report every alteration occurring. Those obligations, for which the mentioned regulation introduced appellations the obligation to report, to assess and to declare, clearly indicate the purpose of the regulation. Its purpose was the assessment of Jewish property. From the declaration and assessment of properties, conclusions were drawn on the influence of Jewish property on the German economy. By the introduction of the obligation to declare property, the overview of the amount was kept up-to-date and the opportunity was created to supervise the movements of Jewish property rigourously. Material restrictions of the economic activities of Jews were not determined by the regulation, its character was a preparatory kind. On the other hand, § 7 enables the person responsible for the four years plan to take the necessary steps to adapt the Jewish property to the interests of the German economy.

The regulation applied a number of terms important to the Reich tax law not forced in Austria at the time of its enactment, such as property, household goods, inland property. The annex, as well, refers to these rules of tax law more than once, including the Reich assessment law of the 16th October 1934. The purpose of this law was to create uniform assessment rules for the area of the old Reich, and one single value was determined by one single authority, and this value was binding for all taxes.

The regulation included some essential differences to tax law. The term property was not identical to the term property in tax law. Property in the sense of the regulation comprised the whole property without consideration of tax law. Only movable items of personal use and the usual household goods were not regarded as part of the property; only property worth less than 5.000 Reichsmark without deduction of debts was free. The persons concerned had to declare their property separately.

In principle, the group of concerned persons was restricted to Jews; the member of this group were determined by the Reich civil law. The only exception was the non - Jewish marriage partner of a member of the mosaic denomination. The nationality was important in so far as Jews of foreign nationality with no residence in the Reich were not obliged to declare their property, but had to declare their inland property if they lived in Germany. Jewish half - castes were not registered by the regulation; this corresponded to the basic intentions of the laws of Nürnberg.

These laws were introduced in Austria by the regulation of the 20th May 1938.

§2 of the first regulation of the Reich civil law of the 14th November 1935 determined who belonged to the group of Jewish half - castes, the groups of Jews was defined by § 5 of the same regulation.

For declaration, an official form had to be used. The annex of this form was similar to the form used for the implementation of the tax law for refugees from the Reich.

On the 18th of May 1938 the national - socialistic authority dealing with properties (Vermögensverkehrsstelle) was established in Austria.

On the 18th of June 1938 the regulation on the implementation of the regulation on the declaration of Jewish property was enacted.

According to that, persons obliged to declare their property had to apply for official forms at the police office of their place of residence (§ 1).

If a German citizen obliged to register was resident abroad the application had to be handed in to the office to the office of the president of the police in Berlin (§2,1).

If § 1 was applicable a representative with permanent residence in Germany could be authorized with the declaration and assessment of the property by a power of attorney written by the person obliged to register (§ 2,2).

The form required for the declaration could be obtained from the office of the president of the police or from the police authority of the representative (§2,3).

§ 3 differentiated between German citizens living in the Reich and those living abroad with regard to registrations deadlines. Those resident in Germany had to declare their property by the 31st July 1938, for those with their permanent resident out of Europe the deadline was extended to the 31st October 1938.


According to the present material of the Austrian State Archives/Archive of Republic, trade and business companies profited from Jewish property in the following way:

The person selling his/her property obtained the respective form , which was filled in and sent on to a central index, from where it continued to the officer in charge.

The officer in charge stated the result of planning, consulted the professional associations, invited an auditor, gathered information on the vendor and on the purchaser, and, if necessary, organized a loan. After these proceedings, the officer in charge passed the file on to the department "declaration of property" to calculate or to determine the purchase price; the decision is taken by the head of the department or, if the bench mark exceeds 50.000 Reichsmark, by the state commissioner or his/her deputy. The authorization given is succeeded by the aryanization of the respective establishment. The file continues through the departments "statistics" and "declaration of properties" to the depreciation of aryanized property in the central index.

File material

The files of the national - socialistic authority dealing with properties within the department Archive of Republic comprises 1.586 cardbord boxes, which may well be used for personrelated and genealogical research. The well - known compendium "Recht als Unrecht" plus an extensive index might prove to be a useful study tool, which is in charge of the group "finances" of the Archive of Republic.

The national - socialistic authority dealing with properties was divided into the following departments:

The files of the relief funds within the Archive of the Republic
Legal foundations

The 2nd World War had ended ten years before, the State Treaty had been signed on the 15th May 1955 after a period of long negotiations, when the discussion on compensation to victims of political persecution started in Austria. Official Austria had to face this question at any rate, not only to redress the Jewish citizens of the country but victims of political persecution in general. This was done by a number of laws, which will be dealt with in detail due to their degree of importance.

The mentioned law was signed by Mr. Theodor Körner , president, Mr. Julius Raab, chancellor, Mr. Adolf SchE4rf, vice - chancellor, Mr. Oscar Helmer, minister for the interior, Mr. Hans Kapfer, minister of justice, Mr. Heinrich Drimmel, minister of education, Mr. Anton Proksch, minister of social affairs, Mr. Reinhard Kamitz, minister of financial affairs, Mr. Franz Thoma, minister of agriculture, Mr. Udo Illig, minister of trade and reconstruction, Mr. Karl Waldbrunner, minister of traffic and nationalized industry, as well as Mr. Leopold Figl, minister of foreign affairs.

The files of the Archive of Republic

In the course of the reconstruction of a central building for the Austrian State Archives the files of the relief funds were transferred from their original place at Karl - Schweighofer - Gasse to the Archive of Republic.

These files had been entrusted to the State Archives by the secretary general of the relief funds, Mr. Georg Weis, in 1969.

The stock of files is accessible through an extensive index comprising all departments of the relief funds; it must be indicated, however, that access to the material is restricted by the present legal regulations of confidentiality.

Inspection of the files is possible only if the researcher can corroborate the death of the seeked person, if he/she is a direct relative of the seeked person, or if a certificate of the family concerned says that they do not oppose any inspection of the file.

The files of the state office/federal ministry for the property and economic planning (Staatsamt/Bundesministerium für Vermögenssicherung und Wirtschaftsplanung) within the Archive of Republic

In the course of national reorganisation after World War II, the state office for the protection of property and economic planning was founded and, in 1946, transformed into the federal ministry for the protection and economic planning. It was headed by Mr. Peter Krauland.

During the years 1949/1950 the ministry was dissolved and those affairs relating to finance have been dealt with by a special section of the ministry of finance.

Certain departments dealt with the topic of compensations, as, e.g department 2, which treated the affairs of the former NSDAP property and of property declined and forfeited.

After the dissolution of the ministry the departments 33, 34 and 35 were in charge of all questions referring to compensation.

The section "property protection" continued its work as an independent institution until 1964. Under Mr. Wolfgang Schmitz, minister of finance, the section was dissolved and put under control of the administrative department.

The preparation of the file material

Concerning the preparation of the described material the Archive of Republic have adhered to the principle of transparency in this sphere. In this connexion, the book "Recht als Unrecht" was published in the year 1993, relating to the first part of the national - socialistic authority dealing with properties. The scientific character is represented by different kinds of dissertations written from the beginning of the seventies onward. Particularly remarkable appear the papers of Ms. Gertrude Fuchs and Ms. Angelika Teuschl, who report on the activities of the national - socialistic authority dealing with properties in the 4th district of Vienna.

The files of the relief funds are not used in scientific research at present. One explanation might be that these are exclusively personal files, and only persons concerned are deemed to be interested in them. Only public institutions work with the material, as, for example the office of Vienna provincial government , the department of the city council 12, the department dealing with the welfare of war victims, and, until March 2000, the federal ministry of labour, social affairs and health.

In the course of moving places the Archive of Republic took over a part of the file material of the federal ministry for the protection of property and economic planning as well as of the section "property protection" of the federal ministry of finance in form of 4.500 fascicles. About the same number may be found at rooms of the mentioned section in Vienna's 1st district. The difficulties of scientific work in this filed are due to the fact that only a small part of the stock of properties is made accessible by the account of indices. Moreover, during the fifties, organigramme and registration method of the section "property protection" were changed so completely that a comprehensive documentation of its work can be ensured only by thorough examination of each individual cardboard box.

With regard to the contemporary historical research, projects planned in this field are welcome; the Archive of Republic is however not in the position to conduct such projects by themselves. The group of mine, which was entrusted with the described material is one of the most extensive file collections in the country. I can not perceive how projects of that kind can in figure in practice with the collaboration of only two persons.

Should any institution be interested in such projects the Archive of Republic will be prepared to provide any know - how acquired by their staff.

Concerning the question of expenditure, the about 1.600 cardboard boxes of the national - socialistic authority dealing with properties and the 3.800 cardboard boxes of the relief funds could be dealt with by two persons within a period of 3 to 4 years.

It seems to be impossible to say how long it would take to work through the material of the section "property protection" by the Archive of Republic (control of completeness, storage in cardboard boxes, etc.).

© Hubert Steiner (Vienna)

10.5. Forms of Life Theatre Forms as an Articulated Way of Life

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For quotation purposes:
Hubert Steiner (Vienna): The Files of the Nationalsocialistic Authority Dealing with Properties (Vermögensverkehrsstelle). In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 15/2003. WWW:

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