Hermann KOHN was born in Aspern an der Donau [which was annexed to Vienna in 1890] on November 28, 1882. He was the first born child of Sali Heller and the cantor Adolf Kohn.
After August 1907 Hermann was the cantor of the Salzburg Synagoge at 8 Lasserstraße. In June 1911 Hermann KOHN married Bertha Schwarz, the daughter of Sofie and Gustav Schwarz, who was a religion teacher and member of the board of the Salzburg Jewish Community founded under the renowned Rabbi Dr. Adolf Altmann.
At first Bertha and Hermann KOHN lived with the Schwarz family at Hubert Sattler-Gasse 3 and then Haydnstraße 10 in the Andrae-quarter. From 1917 on they lived nearby on the 1st floor at 14 Wolf Dietrich-Straße.
Although Hermann KOHN had a beautiful singing voice that was long remembered by the survivors of Salzburg’s Jewish community, the cantor’s job paid poorly and he and Berta decided to supplement their income by establishing a kosher restaurant in Salzburg to provide kosher food for Salzburg’s Jewish residents and visitors.
This was opposed by the restauranteurs’ association and the KOHN’s application for a license was rejected by the Antisemitic Salzburg authorities on the specious grounds that Salzburg already had enough restaurants so no new ones were needed.
The decision by the Salzburg authorities was reversed when the KOHNs appealed to higher authorities in Vienna and Hermann KOHN was awarded a restaurant license on January 13, 1912.
The KOHNs kosher restaurant was at 10 Haydnstraße, in the middle of the well off Andrae-quarter, not far from the synagogue which had been built in 1901 and where many Jewish families had chosen to live since the 1880s – including the Altmanns, Aningers, Bäcks, Bonyhadis, Fischers, Klügers, Löwys, Nalos, Pollaks, Schönbrunns, Schönhorns, Spiegels, Steins, Weihs, Weinsteins and Winklers – especially in the Faber- and Heller-houses that Salzburg Antisemites called »Jew-houses« because they had been constructed by Jewish builders.
The Salzburg synagogue was vandalized and severely damaged in the »Reichskristallnacht« pogrom from November 9th – 10th 1938.
Its Rabbi, Dr. David Samuel Margules, was imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp along with most of the other Jewish men from Salzburg, but was then able to flee to England with his family.
The stories of Salzburg’s Jewish families who were able to escape to freedom have been well researched, but those of the victims of the Holocaust remained unexplored for a long time.
The KOHNs, whose kosher restaurant had been forced to close well before the pogrom, were expelled from Salzburg in November 1938 – to Kanitz [now Kanice] in Moravia according to the official records.
There, Hermann KOHNs younger siblings (who had previously worked in his restaurant) are presumed to have lived in the still unoccupied part of Czechoslovakia [it was occupied by Nazi Germany in March 1939 and declared to be the »Reich’s Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia«].
What is known is that the 59 year old cantor Hermann KOHN was sent in »Transport Aw« from Trebitsch [now Trebic] in Moravi to the Theresienstadt concentration camp on May 22, 1942.
Three days later, on May 25th, he was sent on with »Transport Az« to the Lublin-Majdanek death camp in Poland where he was murdered.1
The fates of his younger siblings Walter, Elma (Adelma), and Frieda remain unknown. Also unclear just what happened to his wife Bertha who had been born in Gmunden in Upper Austria on June 24, 1874.
There was a Bertha KOHN in »Transport Aw« along with Hermann, but her birth date is recorded as August 26, 1872 so it isn’t clear whether or not that is his wife.
It is certain however that Bertha KOHN’s sisters Josefine Reis and Veronika Mamma were murdered in the Treblinka death camp along with Veronika’s husband Adolf Mamma (the Mammas had been married in Salzburg in 1896 and four of their children had been born here, two of whom were Holocaust victims).
The grave of Bertha’s, Josefine’s and Veronika’s parents, Gustav Schwarz and Sofie Nossal Schwarz, is in Salzburg’s Jewish cemetery in Salzburg-Aigen.
1 On January 11, 1943 Adolf Eichmann received a coded radio-telegram from SS Sturmbannführer Hermann Höfle with the number of Jews murdered so far in Lublin-Majdanek, Sobibor, Belzec and Treblinka as of the end of 1942: »together 1,274,166.« The coded message was intercepted and decoded by British Intelligence but was kept secret until 2000.
Its release brought renewed attention to the role of the Salzburger Hermann Höfle (Peter Witte and Stephen Tyas, »A new Document on the Deportation and Murder of Jews during ‚Einsatz Reinhard’ 1942,« in Holocaust and Genocide Studies 15/3, pp. 468-486).
Hermann Höfle had been born in Itzling [now a part of Salzburg but then part of an independent Gnigl] on June 19, 1911 and was an auto mechanic and driver before he made his mark in the SS with his active participation in the »Reichskristallnacht« pogrom of November 1938.
He was rewarded with Adolf Jacoby’s expropriated apartment at 13 Hubert Sattler-Gasse and the Höfle family lived there until 1946. During the war of extermination he was »Section Head for Jewish Affairs« on the staff of SS and Police Major Gerneral Odilo Globocnik, and served as organizer of the »Special Action Reinhardt« and was one of those most responsible for the extermination of Jews in the »General Gouvernement« of occupied Poland.
Hermann Höfle returned to his family in Salzburg in 1947 and lived last in Parsch. His responsibility for these crimes during the Holocaust came up during the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem and he was arrested in Vienna: Höfle hanged himself in his prison cell in Vienna on August 21, 1962 (see: Winfried R. Garscha, »Das Scheitern des ‚kleinen Eichmann-Prozesses’ in Österreich«).
Research: Verena Wagner
Ida Olga Höfler
Translation: Stan Nadel
Laid 23.06.2009 at Salzburg, Wolf-Dietrich-Straße 14