Konrad Lorenz was born in Knittelfeld (in what was then the Austrian province of Styria) on November 24, 1879. He was an engine driver for the Austrian national railroad and was a member of the Social-Democratic Labor Party, along with its associated Free Trade Union and Republican Defense League, until they were banned in February 1934.
After that he belonged to the illegal Austrian Revolutionary Socialist organization (RSÖ). From 1913 on he lived near the main railroad station at 24 Lastenstraße. We also know that his wife Anna died early and it seems that they had no children.
In February 1942 the 62 year old retired railroader Konrad Lorenz was arrested. A Gestapo report claims that he committed »suicide by hanging« in cell of the Salzburg jail at 5:38 am on April 15, 1942.
The judicial proceedings against his friend, work colleague, and comrade Josef Sulzberger allow some insight into the political activities of this RSÖ activist hounded to death.
The two lived in the same house on the Lastenstraße and shared a summer cabin on lake Wallersee that was used as a secret meeting place for RSÖ activists from Vienna, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Tirol and Bavaria. As a retired railroader Konrad Lorenz was able to travel without charge on the railroad and he served as a courier and contact man.
He carried coded messages from the Vienna headquarters of the RSÖ, headed by Dr. Johann Otto Haas, to the Salzburg regional leaders of the RSÖ.
The resistance group led by railroader Engelbert WEISS was smashed when the Gestapo got an informer into the organization. Most of the arrested RSÖ activists were railroaders and they were charged with conspiracy to commit treason.
Three of them were sentenced to death and executed: Anton GRAF, August GRUBER and Engelbert WEISS. At least nine others died or were killed in prison or concentration camps. Konrad Lorenz was one of the first.
His colleague Josef Sulzberger survived the terror years. His son Josef junior, who was also politically persecuted by the Nazis, was a son-in-law of RSÖ member Karl Rinnerthaler who died from his prison injuries.
- Salzburg City and State archives
- Documentation archive of the Austrian Resistance (DÖW)
Translation: Stan Nadel
Laid 02.07.2014 at Salzburg, Lastenstraße 24