Ferdinand LANG, born on March 27, 1913 in Langendorf, district of Sternberg in Moravia, at that time Austria-Hungary (since 1918 Czechoslovak Republic), lived in Salzburg since 1939 and worked since the beginning of World War II in the armament factory Oberascher, which was located in the industrial area Kasern in Salzburg.
In September 1941, Ferdinand LANG married the 20-year-old Herta Biber from Salzburg. The two lived in the Riedenburg district.
Ferdinand LANG, as accountant of the »war-important« armament factory Oberascher, which was managed by Friedrich Thomas from Nuremberg – »a bad boy« according to contemporary witnesses – was well informed about internal processes.
LANG knew that Leopold HOCK, a locksmith employed by Oberascher, had been arrested by the Gestapo as an activist of the Salzburg resistance movement, sentenced to death in Salzburg and executed in Munich-Stadelheim.
LANG also had knowledge of the fact that the armaments factory – production of bullets and shells – recruited both prisoners of war and »civilian workers« who had been deported to Salzburg from the Ukraine, which had been exploited by the Wehrmacht and the SS, for forced labor.
He was certainly one of the first to learn that escaped forced laborers had either been deported to the Dachau concentration camp or had already been murdered in Salzburg.
It can also be assumed that Ferdinand LANG was one of dozens of witnesses who, on August 20, 1943, in the courtyard of the armaments factory, saw the four young Ukrainians Alexander DUBINA, Rawis PLACHE, Vladimir SLESAROW and Leonid STEPANOW, who had to wear the mark »OST« on their work clothes, being hanged on the gallows by the Gestapo as a deterrent. In Kasern the terror was visible, very close.
It is also certain that the accountant LANG was denounced to the Gestapo by female colleagues.
On October 21, 1943, the Gestapo arrested the married couple Herta and Ferdinand LANG – the wife obviously in order to put pressure on her husband to quickly extract a confession from him. However, the Gestapo made a separate request for prosecution of the wife, who was pregnant at the time.
Herta LANG, who was brought before the »Special Court« in Salzburg on March 8, 1944, was sentenced to two years in prison for »broadcasting crimes«, i.e. listening to banned »enemy broadcasts«.
Because of her pregnancy, however, the start of her sentence was postponed.
On June 11, 1944, Herta LANG gave birth to a child in the Deaconess Hospital: Ferdinand, named after his father, who was imprisoned in the prison house of the Salzburg Regional Court.
It was unknown until now that Herta LANG had to participate in the trial of her husband as a person concerned and had to begin her deferred prison sentence on October 16, 1944, thus a few days after the death sentence had been passed on her husband. In the meantime, her young son was being cared for outside Salzburg.
It is also noteworthy that the main hearing of the »People’s Court« against Ferdinand LANG took place on October 10 and 11, 1944 in the jury courtroom of the Salzburg Regional Court – not least because of the court-ordered parade of witnesses, colleagues from the armaments factory who had denounced LANG. Also present was the dreaded Gestapo official Georg König, who had conducted the investigations and interrogations.
According to current knowledge, this was the last of about thirteen show trials of the »People’s Court« in Salzburg with a total of 32 death sentences executed mainly in Munich-Stadelheim.
Ferdinand LANG, however, was not prosecuted solely for »preparation for high treason« like most activists of the organized resistance, but in addition for »traitorous favoring of the enemy« according to the German Reich Penal Code (§ 91 b) and furthermore for »decomposition of military power« according to the »War Special Penal Code« (§ 5, para. 1).
In the reasons for the death sentence imposed on Ferdinand LANG in Salzburg on October 11, 1944 by the 2nd Senate of the »People’s Court« under the presidency of the »People’s Court Counselor« Georg Diescher, it is stated:
During the war, especially in the years 1941 to 1943 in Salzburg, the defendant, influenced by listening to enemy radio broadcasts, constantly made anti-state speeches among the staff of an armaments factory, thereby undermining our will to defend ourselves and our readiness for action. He is therefore sentenced to death and permanent loss of honor for subversion of military strength and favoring the enemy. […]
The defendant Lang, who from 1940 until his arrest continued to listen to enemy broadcasts, in particular to the German broadcasts of the Moscow and London and partly also of the Beromünster [Swiss] broadcaster, used his high-ranking position as a senior accountant in the Oberascher armaments factory to carry out anti-state propaganda among the members of the company’s ranks.
He disparaged National Socialism and its institutions at every possible opportunity and made fun of the Fuehrer and other leading figures of the state, sometimes in joking form, clearly expressing his efforts to convince other persons in the spirit of his own Marxist attitude. […]
On another occasion Lang spoke of the Czechs and Poles, as well as all peoples defeated by the German Wehrmacht, being unjustly oppressed by the latter, and of the German soldiers »robbing« every country they occupied.
When the witness [denunciator] Kürzl then reproached him with the fact that he also belonged to these Germans who robbed everything, Lang replied: »Yes, unfortunately I was born as such.« […]
The defendant himself once regretted that he was born as a German and for this reason alone deserves to be eradicated from the German national community forever.
The 31-year-old Ferdinand LANG was transferred from Salzburg to Munich-Stadelheim, where he was beheaded on November 21, 1944 – with a prohibition order for relatives: »The publication of a death notice is inadmissible«.
It is still remarkable that the National Socialist press reported nothing about the trials of the »People’s Court« at the Salzburg Regional Court – 32 death sentences in the war years 1942 to 1944.
Eight weeks after the execution of Ferdinand LANG in Munich-Stadelheim, however, an official announcement appeared in Salzburg: »Traitor executed!« (Salzburger Zeitung January 17, 1945, p. 3).
His wife Herta, who was imprisoned in the prison house of the Salzburg Regional Court, and their son Ferdinand survived the terror years. In liberated Austria, mother and son were entitled to victim welfare. Ferdinand Jr. left Salzburg in the 1960s.
His mother Herta LANG died at the age of 92 in Salzburg in September 2013.
- Salzburg City and Provincial Archives
- Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance (DÖW), Death Sentence of the People’s Court 11J72/44
Laid 24.10.2014 at Salzburg, Söllheimer Straße 16