Franz BROŽ was born in Liefering (which was a suburb at the time but is now part of the city of Salzburg) on July 13, 1889. He was a married Catholic machinist and was a foreman for the Austrian National Railway (ÖBB). Ever since their marriage in 1919 BROŽ and his wife had lived at 27 Haunspergstrasse in the Elisabethvorstadt district.
Given the lack of documentation, nothing is certain about his party membership or political activities under the Austro-Fascist dictatorship, but it is likely that like most of his fellow railroaders Franz BROŽ belonged to the Social Democratic Labor Party before it was banned in February 1934. He probably had some contact afterwards with the activists of the illegal parties that had been outlawed by the dictatorship. It is certain, however, that under the Nazi regime he was a member of the resistance organization of the Austrian Communist Party that had been reactivated by Franz OFNER.
Franz BROŽ was recruited for this group in the »Reichsbahnwerkstätte« [German National Railways workshop] by Josef HAIDINGER in the spring of 1941. From then until November 1941 he paid his monthly dues of one Mark and got two Communist leaflets or pamphlets to read and pass on to other comrades. At the start of 1942 the Gestapo managed to insert an undercover into the resistance networks of the Communists and Socialists — and that enabled them to roll up and smash the networks. As a result, at least 79 activists were killed in concentration camps or prisons, including 29 railroaders from the city and state sections of the two resistance organizations.
BROŽ was arrested by the Gestapo on February 27, 1942 and held at first in the jail of the Salzburg State Court. He was transferred to the Bavarian prison in Landsberg am Lech in August 1942 before being returned to Salzburg for trial in November. In the five trials that the Vienna Superior Court held in Salzburg between November 23 and November 27, 1942 30 activists from the illegal KPÖ, all railroaders, were sentenced to 212 years imprisonment for »conspiracy to commit treason«.
Two of the 30, Josef KUMHART and Karl STEINOCHER failed to survive their mistreatment while in Nazi custody. Four others, Franz BROŽ, Johann Bruckmoser, Ignaz GRABLER and Lorenz KÜNSTEL, also died from their injuries, but after the liberation of Austria.
Franz BROŽ was sentenced to five years imprisonment on November 24, 1942 and in January 1943 he was transferred to the prison in Straubing Bavaria. He was freed by US troops on April 25, 1945 while he was on a forced march from the Straubing prison to the Dachau concentration camp. After his liberation Franz BROŽ returned to Salzburg, but he was severely ill with lung cancer and died in the Salzburg State hospital on August 12, 1946 when he was 56 years old.
As his survivor in liberated Austria his widow Maria was eligible for victims’ compensation and died in Salzburg at age 68.
- Salzburg city and state archives
- Documentation Archive of the Austrian Resistance (DÖW)
Translation: Stan Nadel
Laid 18.08.2016 at Salzburg, Haunspergstraße 27