Rosa HOFMANN was born in Wilhering (near Linz in Upper Austria) on May 27, 1919. Her family was from a Catholic background, but she was raised in the socialist workers’ milieu of her father Josef HOFMANN, who was a Social Democratic trade unionist and a leader of the Republican Defense League militia affiliated with the Social Democratic party. When Josef HOFMANN lost his job as a cooper in the Stiegl brewery at the height of the Great Depression, he shot himself in February 1932. His widow Cäcilia HOFMANN did unskilled work and lived with her four children in public housing at number 10 Moserstrasse in the then independent and Social Democratic governed community of Maxglan. Rosa’s brothers Josef and Anton learned the painting and locksmith trades. Rosa was registered as a seamstress’ helper so it seems that like her mother she had no skilled trade.
Some time after the Nazis took over Austria Rosa HOFMANN became the leader of Salzburg’s Communist Youth League and she was arrested by the Gestapo on April 17, 1942. According to the charge sheet she distributed leaflets at railway stations and railway cars, and even in front of army barracks, that read
»We want to put a quick end to this bloody and senseless war, and united in brotherhood with the Red Workers’ and Peasants’ Army, join in the final battle—the fight for a free socialist Europe!«
The death sentence of the »Peoples’ Court« against Rosa HOFMANN said that the severity of her activity lay »in her participation in the spreading of materials aimed at undermining the German armed forces« and that the defendant had »in essence« confessed – although she denied that the formulation in the interrogation protocol that she was »at the time of the deed a fanatic Communist« and had »hoped to better her position through world revolution« corresponded to her own language.
On December 15, 1942, just as the war was beginning to turn at Stalingrad, the 23 year old anti-Nazi resister Rosa HOFMANN, whose unwavering determination shows through the violent rhetoric of her hanging judges, was sentence to »death and the lifelong loss of civic rights« for »undermining the military strength of the German people along with treasonably aiding the enemy and conspiracy to commit high treason.« On March 9, 1943, after the battle deaths of hundreds of thousands of me on both sides of the Stalingrad front, Rosa HOFMANN was beheaded in the Berlin-Plötzensee prison.
Despite the imminence of her execution and convinced of the righteousness of her resistance, Rosa was able to find words to comfort her family:
Beloved mother, sister and brother,
Today I have to say goodbye to you as the appeal for mercy has been rejected. But I am completely calm beloved mother. I thank you, my dear little mother, for your love and I am deeply in your debt for the sorrow that I am causing you. […] if you could see how peaceful I am then your sorrow over me wouldn’t be so great. Keep me forever in your thoughts. You must remind yourself that so many are dying and know not why. […] who knows what else I would have to do so that no one else will have to go through what I have gone through. I feel like an old woman and would never be able to be happy. It is good the way it is, believe me. I’ve become tired now.
So, dear little mother, stay healthy—and you too Resi and Tony, be happy and make life good for Mother. I send you my last kisses and warm hugs with a thousand regards. Your Ratzi
Berlin-Plötzensee, 9. März 1943
»Ratzi’s« older brother Josef was a 23 year old soldier when he was killed on the Eastern (Soviet Union) Front in September 1942, which is why he isn’t named in her goodbye letter to her loved ones. But he was still in his sister’s thoughts when she wrote »so many are dying and know not why.«
On May 4, 1947 the Provincial chief of the Austrian Socialist Party opened the first Friends of Children home in the Stötzl Park at number 11 Bindergasse. It was named after the »socialist« Rosa HOFMANN. The memorial stone set there carries the inscription »Rosa Hofmann / died for socialism on March 9, 1943 at the hands of an executioner / You gave your life for freedom / We will try to live up to your example.«
On July 7, 1965 the Salzburg City Council unanimously voted to give names to 20 traffic areas and one of them in Maxglan-Siezenheim was named after Rosa HOFMANN.
|Glockengießerstraße 6||57m||Wimmer, Josef|
|Seeauergasse 3||159m||Hager, Franz|
|Innsbrucker Bundesstraße 57||198m||Stojkowitsch, Johann|
|Siezenheimer Straße 45||353m||Weingartner, Alfred|
|Maxglaner Hauptstraße 73||391m||Stöckler, Viktor|
Laid 2011-07-06 at Moserstraße 10 , Salzburg