Max Mendel Feilchenfeld

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Max Mendel Feilchenfeld

Birthdate: (69)
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Darmstadt, Hesse, Germany
Death: Died in Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Cause of death: injuries suffered from a fall into an open manhole
Immediate Family:

Son of Falk Feilchenfeld and Bertha Feilchenfeld
Husband of Henrietta Maria Feilchenfeld
Father of Friedrich (Fritz) Wilhelm Feilchenfeld; Otto Fabry Feilchenfeld; Franz Karl Fabry (Feilchenfeld) and Hans Josef Feilchenfeld
Brother of Louis Feilchenfeld; Moritz Feilchenfeld; Wilhelm Feilchenfeld; Julius Feilchenfeld; Hermann Feilchenfeld and 5 others

Occupation: director of Teplitz branch of Boehmische Escompte Bank, 1886 director of this bank in Prague, financial adviser of Karl Wittgenstein, 1898 president of Boehmische Escompte Bank in Vienna
Managed by: Paul Heinegg
Last Updated:

About Max Mendel Feilchenfeld

This is a photograph of my greatgrandfather Max Feilchenfeld (upper right) at an event he hosted in Vienna in 1898. The guest of honor is Karl Wittgenstein (front center), one of the richest and most powerful men in the world at the time.

Max was born to poor Orthodox Jewish parents in Franfurt on Oder in 1852, the year Austrian Emperor Franz Josef emancipated the Jews. The Feilchenfeld family were among those who fled 16th-century persecution in Germany and settled in Leszno, Poland, a Jewish community of about 4 to 5,000, where they were allowed to follow trades denied them in Germany. Max’s great grandfather, a well-to-do furrier, took the name Feilchenfeld (or field of violets) in 1793 when the Prussians took over the city and required Jews to take family names. One member of the Feilchenfeld family became chief rabbi of Posen, another was a rabbi in Corry, Pennsylvania, in the 1870s. Fritz Feld, the famous Hollywood comedian, was also a Feilchenfeld.

Max Feilchenfeld was extremely intelligent and hard working-but more important-he was affable and funny, the person everyone wants to be friends with. When he was 14 years old in 1866, he followed his brother to Teplitz in what is now the Czech Republic. There he got a job as an office boy in a small bank. At the age of 19 he was manager of the bank, and at age twenty-one manager of the Bohemian Escompte Bank, a major bank in Teplitz.

In 1877, at the age of 25, he was promoted to director of the bank, married his wife Henriette Scheur and became close friends with and banker to Karl Wittgenstein who was then director of the Teplitz Steel Mill.

Nine years later in 1886 Max was promoted to director of the Bohemian Escompte Bank’s central office in Prague, and he moved there from Teplitz with his family.

Max’s friend Karl Wittgenstein was an outrageous character, a 21st-century, Wall Street mind living in the 19th-century Austro-Hungarian Empire. He became one of the richest men in the world-often compared to his friend Andew Carnegie-and the most powerful industrialist in the Habsburg Empire. His father broke away from the Ghetto and converted to Christianity before Karl’s birth.

Karl was director of the Teplitz Steel Mill in 1877. Within two years he owned it. Over the span of a dozen years, he took over company after company until he controlled every step in the production of steel: the steel mills, iron ore mines, coal mines, the hardware companies that purchased the steel, and a monopoly on the price of steel in the Empire. He created the modern steel industry in Austria. By 1897 he had only one competitor whose shares were plummetting in value because of the difficulty they had competing with him and the fact that they failed to shut down unprofitable plants because the closings threatened to raise public concern over the hardships suffered by laid-off workers. The monarchy had allowed Wittgenstein control over the price of steel to avoid these plant closings.

Wittgenstein secretly acquired shares in this company, both for himself and for his friends under their names. In 1898 he took over control of the company and then shut down the unprofitable plants. (Monopolists like Wittgenstein and Andrew Carnegie were called Robber Barons for good reason). He appointed his friend Wilhelm Kestranek (the man on the right in the first photo, sitting on the stool) as director of the Prague Steel Company, and had Kestranek propose that the company distribute their 4 million Guilder reserve fund among the shareholders, arguing that the company no longer needed a reserve since they had a monopoly on the price of steel.

When the story became public, two major shareholders, members of the board of the largest bank in Austria, the Rothschilds’ Credit Anstalt, objected and resigned over the matter. There was a public outcry. The newspapers questioned Wittgenstein who told them, “It was a deal struck by an accidental meeting between Misters Feilchenfeld, Kestranek, Weinberger and others.” --the same ones shown in the photo.

To avoid the scandal, Wittgenstein publically retired, handed over his companies to his friends, and became a patron of the arts. However, his friends held only nominal control. They were his “straw men.” He continued to run his companies through his very capable managers and still maintained control of the companies’ shares.

Wittgenstein then organized the merger of the Lower Austrian Escompte Bank and Max Feilchenfeld’s Bohemian Escompte Bank with Max as vice president and chairman of the board. And he made the new bank the instrument through which the business of the steel cartel was transacted.

Max Feilchenfeld moved his family to Vienna in 1899 to run the new bank.

When Wittgenstein allowed him to sell his shares in the steel company, they had increased ten fold in value and Max was a very wealthy man. In 1902 Max and his wife Henrietta had their portraits painted by Philip de Laszlo, the famous artist who had painted Pope Leo XIII, Emporer Franz Josef, the German Imperial family and Karl Wittgenstein.

Max purchased property in St. Gilgen in 1904 and hired the renowned architect Albert Pecha to build the famous "villa on the Wofgangsee" from 1904-1906. It was listed as one of the historic gardens of Austria and one of Pecha's finer achievements.

In 1908 Max became president of his bank. He was a very patriotic Austrian and lost his entire fortune by investing in Austrian First World War bonds which were worthless after the war. He died in Vienna in 1922. The bank laid out his body in their large assembly hall and buried him from there. His funeral was the biggest that any private citizen had gotten in Vienna in decades. The streets were filled with thousands of people following his coffin, and the newspapers printed obituaries that went far beyond anything usually accorded a private individual.

He had been named for Emperor Maximillian, and he and his wife Henriette gave their sons imperial names: Fritz, a lawyer in Vienna; Otto, chairman of the board the Bohemian Escompte Bank in Prague, and my grandfather Franz Feilchenfeld who was born in Prague in 1888.

Emperor Franz Josef despised antisemitism, but his subjects made Vienna the major center of antisemitism in Europe before the First World War. In 1895 when Vienna elected an anti-semite as mayor, Theodor Herzl came to the conclusion that Europe would never accept Jews. There were riots in Vienna against Jewish property, and the chances were that at one stage or another a Jewish child was likely to be beaten up because he was a Jew, even children from fairly well-to-do parents.

Franz led a very sheltered life. He was tutored at home until the age of 10 and not allowed to play in the park like other children. His parents arranged “play dates" with children they deemed appropriate. In 1899 he was a student at the Franz Josef School in Vienna, one of the best German language schools in the world. He noted in his memoirs that Jews made up one third of the class and were the best students. He wrote, “Anti-Semitism was noticeable in both students and teachers only in exceptional cases." The worst incident he could recall was when the parents of one of his playmates forbade their child to play with him when they found out he was a Jew.

Jews were an oppressed minority, but they actually had an advantage over the native Catholic population as explained in the book “Vienna and the Jews: A Cultural History” by Steven Beller. Their ancestors in Eastern Europe had taught their children to read and write Hebrew, a foreign language, from the age of three. Jews had to study as the central tenet of their religion. In the Galician shtetl, regardless of the wretched poverty of many in the village, they all saved money to pay for the school (cheder).

Catholics did not study unless they intended to become priests. In fact, there was a tradition in the Catholic hierarchy against too much learning for the masses. Gentile children were gradually taught to read their own language at age 6 or 7.

And Jews, as immigrants in a new society, were driven to excel in education since they felt that attainment of one of the major professions was the key to acceptance and assimilation into this society. In their drive to put the awful conditions of the Ghetto behind them, many Jews abandoned their religion as they associated Orthodox Judaism with the Ghetto. Sigmund Freud, Herzl, the Wittgensteins (Karl, his son Ludwig the philosopher and son Paul the concert pianist), Schoenberg, Schnitzler, Gustav Mahler, Stefan Zweig, the Feilchenfelds, and the Nobel laureates replaced reverence for religious learning with reverence for secular study.

There were 2,000 Jews in Vienna in 1852 when Max Feilchenfeld was born, 100,000 in 1890 and 200,000 by the Second World War. They made up 10% of the population but one third of the students in the high schools, two-year colleges, and the University of Vienna.

Furthermore, 40% of the graduates of the University of Vienna went into the beaurocracy--a field open only to those who were baptized. So Jews became 50% of the doctors, 40% of the lawyers and 60% of the journalists in Vienna. 48% of the University of Vienna’s world-renowned medical faculty were Jews in 1890. By 1910 they made up 59% of the faculty of Medicine and 44% of the faculty of Law. This over-representation of Jews in the major professions was the subject of public complaints from 1890 until the Second World War.

Graduates of the Vienna two-year colleges were expected to enlist and train as lieutenants in the army. Franz wrote in his memoirs, “In the Volunteers school I came into contact with anti-Semitism for the first time. Along with neutral swear words, the first lieutenant riding instructor liked to address people like me as Jew-pig (Saujude). I myself suffered little from this: Thanks to my training in the Spanish Riding School I was the best rider in my group, and back then that counted a lot more than any other personal or military quality.”

He went on military exercises in Galicia, Poland, and wrote, “I took the train to Lemberg and from there over 50 kilometers of Polish country roads to my destination, a bunch of houses built around a square plaza, where 8,000 Jews lived in subhuman conditions. The whole country remained stuck in the Middle Ages. The desperately poor population, especially the Jews, seemed to be always on the move. Rack-wagons with large families and the most wretched sort of furniture and utensils moved in a seemingly endless stream along the run down roads.”

In 1910 he married the Catholic daughter of the family’s next-door neighbor in St. Gilgen, Eugene Koenig, a millionaire manufacturer of industrial alcohol. Franz’s family had no religion, but they were baptized on the insistance of their mother for social reasons. His father, reluctant to offend the Orthodox members of his family, was the last to be baptized in 1899 when baptism was important for high level banking with the monarchy. Conversion was the ticket for many important jobs, but most Jews resented sacrificing their heritage for a position that was rightfully theirs, even if their attitude towards Judaism was indifference.

The photo of Max Feilchenfeld and Karl Wittgenstein is also of interest because it is a sampling of the Jewish community in Vienna--defined by both Jews and Gentiles as anyone with Jewish ancestry and anyone married to a Jew. Isidor Weinberger (sitting on the left), son of a physician, an official of the Austrian Railways in Vienna, and an amateur mineralogist, recognized that the discarded mountains of slag on a defunct iron mine were useful as a fertilizer. With the help of his friend Wittgenstein he acquired the mine and made his fortune by selling the slag and reactivating the mine.

Wilhelm Kestranek, sitting on a stool on the right of this photo, was a Gentile whose sister married Eugene Herz, a Jew. Kestranek is the tall man in the center of the wedding photo of my grandfather in 1910. He followed Max Feilchenfeld’s lead by having his portrait painted by de Laszlo and building a villa in St. Gilgen as grand as Max’s. St. Gilgen became famous as a summer resort mainly because of these two villas.

When I visited St. Gilgen in 1987, older members of the family recalled Max’s parties at the villa: half of those attending were Jewish the other half Gentile.

Franz was drafted as a lieutenant in the First World War but faked an illness when he heard about the horrible casualties. None of his fellow officers returned from the front. He went into non-combatant service for the remainder of the war. At first he was involved with, of all things, determining who should get deferments from service. Later he was a senior banking official in the Ministry of War.

After the war he worked in several banks in Vienna, Paris and Berlin. In 1922 the Rothchilds hired him and his colleague Stephan Popper, a foreign exchange specialist, to run a bank in Berlin with about 250 employees. (Arthur Schnitzler was his client and acquaintance). Franz stayed in Berlin until 1935, two years under Hitler, without being concerned for his safety. Most Austrian Jews returned to Austria from Germany by 1933.

He wrote, “I have never believed that my Jewish origins could a priori discredit me with non-Jews. From my observation, I'd say that active anti-Semitism can be explained by the mistrustful, unconsciously defensive behavior of Jews when they meet non-Jews. It springs from a feeling of anxiety, and is taken to be arrogance. I felt that I had it easier than the average Jew because I was living in Berlin as a legal alien and had a job that couldn't be readily taken over by a German Nazi. I didn't get into difficulties or conflicts even when I walked anonymously into a Nazi meeting, for example, or when I was the only one at a sporting event not to salute while Nazi songs were being sung.”

“On one occasion I was driving home with a friend from a restaurant outside Berlin when a group of storm troopers bolted in front of the car with guns drawn and forced me to stop. 'You fired on our camp,’ one shouted. I just laughed, showed them my identification papers and--despite my Jewish name--was immediately released.”

One day in 1935 he heard a commotion across the street from his bank. “Across from our front windows lay the offices of the Imperial Transportation Bank. This was an organization that handled nothing but the financial affairs of the national railways. We heard an uproar and saw a mass of people shouting threats outside the windows of the bank. Soon afterwards a team of storm troopers charged out of nowhere, marched into the bank, and led out a a group of pale individuals: the management of the bank. The newspapers later claimed that the ‘voice of the people’ had spoken out against the Jewish influence on the bank. The directors were taken into ‘protective custody’ and a new ‘German’ management was installed. At that time such persons were allowed to emigrate."

He got his affairs in order and arranged to move as quickly as possible back to Austria. “Just before I left I had an interesting run-in with the Nazis--in the most literal sense. I had a collision with a car with four Nazi functionaries in it. My car was unharmed, but theirs was badly banged up. I had to go to an interrogation conducted by another Nazi official, but after hearing the evidence he decided that his comrades were at fault and he let me go. Saved again."

He took the train from Berlin to Innsbruck on December 12, 1935. He wrote, “I had an indescribable feeling of delight when I got out of the train in Austria, in the rather shaky belief that now I was in a free country.” But he returned to Berlin several times in 1936 and 1937 to oversee the liquidation of his bank.

In December 1937 he got a job in Vienna as trustee of Hermann Pollack Sons' bank creditors, taking over from Stephan Popper, his former colleague in Berlin, who left to become director of the Bohemian Escompte Bank in Prague (probably hired by Otto who was chairman of the board of the Bohemian Escompte and Creditanstalt). When the Germans invaded Austria in March 1938, he feared for his safety, both as a Jew and someone who had illegally transferred assets out of Berlin. He noted, “The Viennese are undoubtedly the most spineless people of any major city in the world. Overnight they all changed sides. Unless they were Austrian Jews, they wore hastily designed swastikas.”

He quickly arranged with his company to send him on a business trip to Prague. A week later an arrest warrant was issued for him for transferring Reich Marks out of Germany before he had left for Austria. He stayed in Prague with his brother Otto for a few weeks while he got a visa to London. Otto tried to convince him to stay in Prague, but the situation was already deteriorating there (before the German invasion) and Franz could not wait to get out: “In Prague around that time you felt you were in a trap.”

Franz’s son Fritz Feilchenfeld (my father), as a “Mischling” or half-breed, was allowed to complete his studies at the University of Vienna Medical School. He graduated in May 1939, flew to London, and then boarded one of the last ships to leave England for the United States in October 1939.

Franz’s older brother Otto was chairman of the board of one of the largest banks in Czechoslovakia, a major force in the country’s finances. He studied law at the University of Vienna and in Berlin.

Otto attended a family reunion in London in February 1939. This was after Kristallnacht and after German troops had crossed the Czech border in October 1938. 15,000 Jews had already fled Czechoslovakia by the end of 1938, and the replacement of Jews with Gentiles in the major professsions had begun the previous month in January 1939.

The family tried to convince Otto to stay in London, but he insisted that he had nothing to fear and returned to Prague. He was immediately put under house arrest for three years, sent to Theriesenstadt in 1942 and then murdered in Auschwitz in October 1944. Franz’s friend and colleague from the bank in Berlin, Stephan Popper, then the director of Otto’s bank in Prague, was transported with Otto to Theriesenstadt in 1942 and murdered in Auschwitz in 1944.

The week after Otto arrived back in Prague his bank and the employees he had worked with were put in charge of the Aryanization of all Jewish property in Czechoslovakia. After the war the Allies investigated the George Schicht Company which helped the Henlein Party collaborate with the Nazi takeover of the Sudetenland. Otto was on the board of directors of this company.

The Gentile director of a steel company in Czechoslovakia, Anton Hoedl, dedicated his memoirs to Otto, saying that Otto had been the major influence in his career. Otto had hired him in 1926.

He wrote, “In the Nazi period Feilchenfeld was in Theresienstadt, the Jewish camp in northern Bohemia. He wrote from there humorous letters, on occasion of his appointment as head of the Jewish camp community and was then--the Berlin Corp student [fencing fraternity member]--sent to Auschwitz. Some of the humorous sayings of Feilchenfeld’s I quote today with fondness. When both of us thought of the solution to a problem at the same time, he used to say, "All Jews have the same Sechel.” He amicably threw Feilchenfeld and Hödl in the same Jewish pot!"

Hoedl’s memoirs show the thinking of the people Otto worked with throughout his life. The man wrote, "I am not and never was a national chauvinist, but the Germans have a right to achieve their national coexistence...Hitler had this dream of German unity...He soiled this legitimate desire. I will not give up the ideals of my youth, even if Hitler has abused its purposes.”

And in the chapter in his memoirs on "The Jewish Question" he wrote, "I was never an anti-Semite. Initially, Nazism was never blatantly anti-Semitic. It seemed to us outsiders as more a pushing back against overwhelming Jewish influence. Only after the political successes, the Anschluss of Austria and the Sudeten, did anti-Semitism become more radical. The Kristallnacht was the first event that frightened and shamed me...I felt disgusted."

In February 1939 when Otto made the decision to fly back to Prague, he was aware that a few months previous in November 1938 the Nazi authorities in Vienna had contacted his mother Henriette. They informed her that, “St. Gilgen must be free of Jews,” and ordered her to transfer her villa to an Aryan. The property was valued as a 25-bed hotel at 120,000 Reich Marks, but she was ordered to sell it to a Nazi couple who were hotel operators for 85,000. Henriette used her influence at the Ministry of Ecomonics to delay the sale until February 1941 when it was authorized for 100,000 Reich Marks.

She was forced to move from her luxury apartment in Vienna to a Jewish old age home in February 1943, died of natural causes in February 1944 and was allowed a first-class funeral in the family mausoleum in the Jewish section of Vienna’s Central Cemetery. She was one of about 2,000 Jews allowed to remain in Vienna.

In 1946 the U.S. Forces in Austria used the villa as an officers’ home. When they determined that the owners were Nazi Party members,they made rental payments to Franz and Henriette’s other descendants. The descendants dispaired of having any commercial dealings in Austria after the war and sold the property back to the Nazi couple.

This portrait of Max Feilchenfeld was painted in Vienna in 1902 by Hungarian artist Philip de Laszlo who had painted the portraits of Emperor Franz Josef in 1899, the German Imperial family in 1900 and Pope Leo XIII in 1900. de Laszlo also painted the portrait of Max's wife Henriette Feilchenfeld, but it has not been located.

He was about 14 years old in 1866 when he was listed as an emigrant from Frankfurt on Oder to what was then Austria in 1866. And he was a bank director and about 25 years old when he was listed as an emigrant from Frankfurt on Oder to Hungary in 1877 [Wolfert, Marion, comp. Brandenburg, Prussia Emigration Records [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006; Original data: Auswanderungskartei (emigration cards) located at Brandenburgishes Landeshauptarchiv in Potsdam, Germany or Family History Library microfiche #6109219-6109220 (54 total fiches)].

Max was born on 13 July 1852 in Frankfurt on Oder. At the age of 16 he followed his brother to Teplitz-Schonau, Northern Bohemia, where he took a job as office boy in a small bank. At the age of 19 in 1871 he was director of a small local bank in Steyr, Upper Austria. In 1873 he went back to Teplitz, as clerk. He became director of a branch of the Bohemian Escompte Bank in 1877 and married Henriette Scheuer the same year. He became adviser to Karl Wittgenstein, owner of the Teplitz Rolling Mill and one of the most important figures in Austrian economic life--a friend of Andrew Carnegie, with whom he was often compared. Max made his bank the agency through which the Austrian Iron Trust performed its transactions. In 1886 he moved to Prague where he was director of the bank's central office [Vienna newspapers from 1872-1875: Wiener Zeitung, Neues Fremdan-Blatt, Leitmertzer Zeitung and Deutsche Zeitung

In 1898 he was called by Karl Wittgenstein to Vienna. In 1900 he brought about the merger of his bank with the Niederosesterrische Escompte Gesellschaft and became Chairman of the Board and Vice President of the new bank which was chief agent for Wittgenstein's steel firm. Wittgenstein gave Max a modest share of his steel firm and paid Max 400,000 gilders when he sold the firm.

During the early 1890s he sent his family for the Summer to the Baltics, later the Austrian Alps, and from 1902, as his situation improved, to Switzerland for eight weeks at a hotel in Engadin. (His son Otto owned a large villa on Brioni in 1901, built by Karl Wittgenstein and later demolished to build a summer residence for Tito).

Max purchased the Bilroth home in St. Gilgen in 1904 and hired the renowned architect Albert Pecha to build the famous "villa on the Wofgangsee" from 1904-1906. His son Franz recalled that he spent nearly 1 million kronen on the villa. It was listed as one of the historic gardens of Austria and one of Pecha's finer achievements [Burger, Eva. Historiche Garten Osterreichs: Garten und Parkainiagen von der Renaissance].

After 1907 he became president of the Niederosterreichische Escompte Gesellschaft . He was a very patriotic Austrian and invested his entire fortune in Austrian war bonds which were worthless after the war.

He had retired sometime before 6 June 1922 when he had an accident that led to his death 16 days later. He returned home late at night from a social gathering and fell into an open manhole in front of his house. (The person responsible for guarding the spot had fallen asleep). The incident was reported in the Vienna press. He was buried from the bank building, where thousands of people pressed around to watch the funeral procession.

His friend Georg Gunther, Director General of the Steyr Steel Works, wrote one of Max's obituaries in the Neue Freie Presse on 28 June 1922, praising his kindness, humanity, humor and sunny nature.

Wikipedia (translation by Google): Max Feilchenfeld (* 1852, † June 27, 1922 in Vienna) was a banker of the Austrian monarchy.

In the 1890s Max Feilchenfeld headed the Bohemian Escompte Bank and was a close confidant of Karl Wittgenstein, steel magnate who controlled the steel and iron resources in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1899 Wittgenstein invited him to Vienna and appointed him vice president and chairman of the board of the Lower Austrian Escompte Company, chief agent for Wittgenstein's steel firm. The Institute had a pioneering role in Austrian banking, counted among the seven major banks in Vienna in 1910 and sole owner of the Bohemian Escompte Bank and Creditanstalt (Bebca), one of the three largest German-Czech commercial banks. It was thus a leader in the Bohemian iron industry.

The Lower Austrian Escompte Company was engaged in the conversion of unincorporated companies into joint stock companies in the last years of the monarchy, as in the case of Hutter & Schrantz and Bela Egger. After World War I, Max Feilchenfeld was one of the major forces who influenced money supply policy in Vienna [Kurt R. Leube, Preliminary Remarks on Mises in Interwar Vienna, Working Paper No. 34 (2002), p. 15,

The Escompte Company had its headquarters in the Kärntner Straße. Built on the site of the former headquarters of the Institute Hofkriegsratsgebäudes at court No. 2.

Max Feilchenfeld was also active as a builder, privately establishing the mighty Villa in St Gilgen am Wolfgangsee. The obituary of the Director General of the Steyr-Werke, then still Austrian Arms Factory society, Georg Günther (in: Neue Freie Presse of 28 June 1922) boasts Feilchenfelds kindness, humanity, his humor and his sunny nature.

His name appears in Vienna newspapers, about once per week from 1900-1920.
His son Franz, who was very critical of his family, wrote that his father moved up quickly in the banking establishment because of his “intelligence, hard work and exceptionally pleasant nature.” “Thanks to his kindness and selflessness my father was loved by people far beyond the circle of bank colleagues.” “My father’s extreme modesty and his helpfulness, together with his humor and understanding, had won him friends from the most varied walks of life.”

Max died in 1922, leaving his wife Henrietta with the St. Gilgen property. As the Nazis consolidated their control of Austria in the latter part of 1938, they ordered that large properties like St. Gilgen be transferred from Jewish to Aryan ownership. They ordered all Jews out of St. Gilgen:

"As an example of the typically arbitrary procedure reflecting the pseudo-legal foundations of Nazism, there is an important St. Gilgen property, the so-called Villa Billroth. The property once belonged to the famous doctor Billroth, but it was completely rebuilt. By the outbreak of WWI it was in possession of the family of Mrs. Henriette Feilchenfeld. In November, 1938 she received an inquiry from the Nazi administrative district of Salzburg, asking how she would go about "transferring" the property "into Aryan hands." Henriette Feilchenfeld wanted to keep the estate in her family, and so, making use of a deed of gift contract she handed it over to her two minor great-grandaughters Elizabeth and Maria Rulf, who according to the Nuremberg Laws were "second-degree half-breeds." Beginning in December, 1938 Mathias Ebner applied to have the property Aryanized. On Jan. 27, 1939 Henriette Feilchenfeld received a contract of sale from the Property Transfer Office (from a Dr. Mueller [a lawyer]) that said:

"In accordance with section 6 of the Order concerning the recovery of Jewish property, you are required to sell your property at St. Gilgen 87 to Mr. Mathias Ebner, who resides at Kammer on the Attersee, and to conclude with him a bill of sale within a period of eight days [ …] If this deadline passes without anything being done, I will, in keeping with the last paragraph of Section 6 of the above-mentioned Order, make use of the right to appoint a fiduciary." The pressure from the "Aryanization" office was great; for example, on Feb. 22, 1939 the Nazi district administration of Salzburg wrote to Mrs. Feilchenfeld's legal representative […] "St. Gilgen must be set free, without exception, from the Jews. For this reason it (the Nazi Party) also stresses how important it is to de-Judify the Feilchenfeld property. Hence, we request that you impress on Mrs. Feilchenfeld the need to begin negotiating about the sale. Mr. Ebner, residing at the Hotel Kammer on the Attersee is the applicant." Without her knowledge, Mrs. Feilchenfeld's legal representative drew up a contract of sale that was handed in to the Property Transfer Office. When Mrs. Feilchenfeld learned of this, she dismissed her legal representative. With a notification dated dated April 4, 1939 the Property Transfer Office rejected the deed of gift contract between Mrs. Feilchenfeld and her great-granddaughters. In response, she filed a complaint with the Economic Ministry of the Reich. Meanwhile, the Property Transfer Office had documents drawn up about the estimated value of the property. Engineer Adolf Sachse, in his report of August 5, 1939 rated the value of the land and building at 120,000 Reichmarks and the current market value at 66,442 Reichmarks. In the transfer contract there is evidence of a trick: the author of the report has deducted 45% not only of the construction costs but of the value of the land as well in order to arrive at the estimated amount. On March 2, 1940 a further estimate relative to the 85,000 Reichmark sale price was present by Government Building officer Geppert.

In the documents of the Salzburg Property Transfer Office there is a note dated 30 March and April, 1940 [sic]: "Architect Geppert phoned to say that the Feilchenfeld Villa with all its furnishings yields--assuming it functions as a pension with 25 beds over a period of 60 days--3,000-4,000 Reichmarks per year. Since the Villa is a luxury bulding, with a relatively high overhead (?), according to the judgment of Government Building officer Geppert, the sale of the Villa at a price of 85,000 Reichmarks amounts to giving it away."

With the shift to Salzburg of the authorities responsible for the Aryanization process at the end of 1939, a new strategy was pursued. The finance officer of the Nazi administrative district, a man named Lippert, was initially in charge of working out the Aryanization process. On Feb. 13, 1940 he published a contract of sale that, as was usual, appeared in the Deutsche Rechtsanzeiger and the Preussische Staatsanzeiger. Lippert acted as if Henriette Feilchenfeld's place of residence was not known, although her Vienna address--1 Pension Elite, Vienna I, 32 Wipplinger St.--hadn't changed up till then. On February 9, 1940 financial and economic advisor Hans Autor was appointed as fiduciary for the sale; and on April 30, 1940 the sale was concluded between him and the married couple Mathias and Hildegard Ebner.

That contract was officially approved on the same day by the Reich governor in Salzburg. The sale price, the funds for which could only be raised through a loan, was 85,000 Reichmarks. Amusingly enough, the contract of transfer lists the address of the supposedly address-unknown Henriette Feilchenfeld. The wronged owner of the property filed a complaint against the Ebners' acquisition of the right to the estate and against the appointment of the fiduciary for the sale. The only effect of the complaint was that on Jan. 2, 1941 the Economic Ministry of the Reich reversed the approval of the deed of sale and ordered the governor of Salzburg to approve a contract of sale so long as the price was raised to 100,000 Reichmarks.

At the same time the deed of gift to the great-grandchildren was declared invalid. Once more the Reich governor appointed a fduciary for the sale, Dipl. Kfm. Bruno Kreuzhuber, who on Feb. 6, 1941 signed offf on a contract with Hildegard and Mathias Ebner. All the Ebner family had to do was come up with the money.

Henriette Feilchenfeld died in Vienna (i.e., during the war), and her son Otto Feilchenfeld was murdered in the Auschwitz concentration camp."

[Lichtblau, Albert, "Arisierungen", beschlagnahmte Vermögen, Rückstellungen und ..., Part 2, pages 87-90, on google books.

Note that Henrietta's great grandchildren Elisabeth and Maria Rulf are identical to Hans and Mutzi Rulf's children Liesl Seiller Tarbuk and Panto Von Schram.

Paul Heinegg

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Max Mendel Feilchenfeld's Timeline

July 13, 1852
Frankfurt, Darmstadt, Hesse, Germany
November 13, 1878
Age 26
Teplice, Teplice, Ústí nad Labem Region, Czech Republic
April 11, 1879
Age 26
Teplice, Teplice District, Ústí nad Labem Region, Czech Republic
June 29, 1882
Age 29
Teplice, Teplice, Ústí nad Labem Region, Czech Republic
May 16, 1888
Age 35
Prague, Czech Republic
Age 46
Salzburg, Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria
June 27, 1922
Age 69
Vienna, Vienna, Austria