Johann Brandthaler was born in Handenberg (in the Upper Austrian district of Braunau) on June 4, 1895. Starting in 1927 he worked in Salzburg, Gnigl and Maxglan as housekeeper or servant and he lived as a subtenant at 1 Schlossergasse.
After the Austrian Communist Party (KPÖ) was banned in 1933 Brandthaler, who was a senior party official, was frequently arrested for illegal political activities. He was convicted in the Salzburg State Court of disturbing the peace and treason, and he was banned from living in Salzburg in May 1937.
The persecution of Communists and Socialists by the Austrian dictatorship from 1933 to 1938 turned out to be a major factor in the decision of many of them to fight in the Spanish Civil War, where they fought in the International Brigades – Austrians were prominent in the 12th of February Battalion (an Austrian unit named after the uprising against the Austro-Fascist dictatorship on that date in 1934), the Thälmann Battalion (named after the imprisoned German Communist leader Ernst Thälmann), and the Edgar André Battalion (originally called the Austrian-German Battalion, it was renamed after the German Communist Edgar Josef André when he was tortured and executed by the Nazis) which was part of the Hans Beimler Brigade (named after its political commissar when he was killed in the battle of Madrid).
We know that Johann Brandthaler 1937 went to Spain in the summer of 1937 in order to fight the fascists and that he returned to Austria after the forces of the Spanish Republic were defeated by those of General Franco.
He was caught and arrested by the Nazis, and on December 9, 1940 he was sent to the Dachau concentration camp where he was registered as a »Spanish Red«. On November 2, 1942 the 47 year old Johann Brandthaler was transferred to the Neuengamme concentration camp – where he was murdered on January 27, 1943.
The official cause of death was »Failure of the heart and circulation due to gastric and intestinal colic«.
- Salzburg State archives
- Archives of the Dachau and Neuengamme concentration camp memorials
Translation: Stan Nadel
Laid 19.04.2013 at Salzburg, Schlossergasse 1