Anton Steininger

Memorial tablet at the Salzburg State Courthouse<br>Photo: Gert Kerschbaumer
Memorial tablet at the Salzburg State Courthouse
Photo: Gert Kerschbaumer
The Symbol of the Nazi-Civil- and Military Justice: Sword of Justice with party eagle and swastika
The Symbol of the Nazi-Civil- and Military Justice: Sword of Justice with party eagle and swastika
Death Sentence for Anton Steininger on Sept. 7, 1944 in Salzburg – Prosecutor Dr. Ferdinand Voggenberger, Judge Dr. Wilhelm Krepper
Death Sentence for Anton Steininger on Sept. 7, 1944 in Salzburg – Prosecutor Dr. Ferdinand Voggenberger, Judge Dr. Wilhelm Krepper

Rudolfsplatz 2

Baumgartner, Franz Friembichler, Johann Gehringer, Rudolf Groiss, Wilhelm Kössner, Georg Kowatsch, Ferdinand Maier, Jakob Niesewendt, Felix Pickl, Ernst Pironi, Pietro Rieder, Thomas Sbigoli, Giuliano Schmidberger, Hilde Sevignani, Johann Seywald, Franz Sottili, Remo Steininger, Anton Tragbauer, Ambros Waltl, Franz Wolf, Felix

Anton STEININGER was born in Vienna on March 4, 1902. He was the child of an unmarried laborer named Juliana Steininger. Her son Anton was also an unskilled worker and he left no personal testimonies of an autobiographical nature.

It is, however, certain that Anton STEININGER was employed as a worker at the power plants in the Stubach Valley (in the mountains c. 115 Km southwest of Salzburg) and that he had to report for duty in the German Wehrmacht in 1941.

In August 1942 he had his first home leave, which he could spend with his love in the Stubach valley.

Back home in the Pinzgau mountains, Anton STEININGER decided to hide – to desert. He thus rejected any further military service or deployment to the front, refusing to participate in the war of annihilation.

Thanks to helpers, he managed to hide in the mountains for almost two years. He was first caught in May 1944, but was able to escape. He fell into the clutches of the Gestapo and the wartime justice system in Salzburg again on August 17, 1944.

His partner in the Stubach valley Kreszentia Gruber missed him, and after the end of the war she hoped to learn where he was. In August 1947 she must have turned to the Red Cross for help, since a »search report« appeared in the Salzburg press:

The relatives of Anton Steininger, born March 4, 1902, allegedly in Vienna, are asked to report to the search center of the Red Cross, Salzburg, Paris-Lodron-Strasse 8a, 1st floor, door 1.

But even his mother in Vienna didn’t know anything more and it is questionable whether she ever received a death notice. There was a deep silence, especially about desertion, or conscientious objection during the war of annihilation.

It was not until the 1990s that the public learned from the documentary volume on Resistance and Persecution in Salzburg 1934-1945 that Anton STEININGER was sentenced to death on September 7, 1944 by the 418th Division’s Court Martial desertion.

The death penalty was not imposed just anywhere, but in the Salzburg courthouse:

In the name of the German People!

This phrase obscures the accountability of specific individuals in Nazi wartime justice: Dr. Ferdinand Voggenberger as prosecutor and Dr. Wilhelm Krepper as judge. Both were Austrian lawyers – hanging judges in Salzburg.

Furthermore, the documentary from 1991 neither asks nor says where the execution of 42-year-old Anton STEININGER took place: whether at the military firing range in Glanegg, 7.5 Km south of Salzburg in the municipality of Grödig, or elsewhere?

So far, no relevant death records have been found in the Grödig municipal offices.

But recent research by the Salzburg city archives found information that Anton STEININGER's body was buried in the municipal cemetery of the city of Salzburg in the second half of October 1944, and »Grödig is noted as the place of death« (according to a statement from the cemetery administration).

So, despite the fact that no »war death notice« can be found in Grödig, there is no doubt that Anton STEININGER was executed at the military firing range in Glanegg.

It is also noteworthy that Anton STEININGER had a previously unknown helper: Marianne Praschberger (who was from Uttendorf, a village at the foot of the Stubach valley where he had worked before being drafted).

She was sentenced to two years in prison for »encouraging desertion« and »anti-state sentiment« in December 1944.

Marianne Praschberger survived the terror years, but her application for victims’ compensation and compensation for imprisonment was rejected by the post-war Salzburg State government.

Deserter helpers, like the deserters they helped, were not considered »victims in the struggle for a free, democratic Austria«.

It took many decades before the Austrian deserters from the German Wehrmacht were rehabilitated by a repeal and rehabilitation law of the Austrian Parliament that came into force on December 1, 2009.

Sources

Author:Gert Kerschbaumer
Translation:Stan Nadel

Nearby Stumbling Blocks

Rudolfsplatz 3 0m 0m, 0°  Gomez-Rodriguez, Rafael
Griesgasse 1 25m 25m, 296°  Rehrl, Johann
Griesgasse 7 68m 68m, 279°  Heger, Berta
Staatsbrücke 89m 89m, 0°  Coilliaux, René Lucien
Alter Markt 12 93m 93m, 161°  Schwarz, Walter

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