Walter BRAUNWIESER was born near the city of Salzburg in the village of Hallwang on June 12, 1922. He was an unmarried Catholic laborer and lived with his widowed father in public housing in the Elisabethvorstadt neighborhood of Salzburg.
We know that this young man had been prosecuted by the Nazi regime for his sexual orientation. After that he was drafted into the German army in Salzburg (Military District XVIII) and had served in a Mountaineer Replacement Regiment of the 188th division since November 1941.
The war death records report that the 19 year old Walter BRAUNWIESER was sentenced to death for desertion by a 188th division court martial, and that he was shot to death at the military execution ground in Glanegg (just south of Salzburg) on July 30, 1942. His motive for deserting is unknown given the lack of court martial or other files. His widowed father died after the liberation of Salzburg.
His example shows that homosexuals were among the deserters from the German army, but given the lack of victim assistance files they generally remain unknown. It is also certain that there were homosexuals among those reported as killed or missing in action.
It is also noteworthy that victims of Nazi military (in)justice, like the deserter Georg PRODINGER (who was beheaded in the Munich-Stadelheim prison) and the two deserters Walter BRAUNWIESER and Karl REITMAIER (who were shot to death in Glanegg) were not included in the Documentation of Resistance and Persecution in Salzburg 1934 – 1945 that was published in 1991 and was only discovered when the police registration cards of the city of Salzburg were investigated.
It was only many decades after Austria’s liberation that the Austrians executed for deserting from Nazi Germany’s army were legally rehabilitated – with a law that went into effect on December 1, 2009 [and even then the law had to be passed over the vigorous protests of several Austrian veterans’ organizations and many other Austrians].
The Stumbling Block memorial laid in Salzburg for Karl REITMAIER on March 22, 2012 was the first ever for a deserter from the German Wehrmacht.
Translation: Stan Nadel
Laid 13.05.2013 at Salzburg, Plainstraße 8