Hermann MOLTINGER was born in Hallein (a dozen kilometers south of Salzburg) on February 23, 1915 and baptized into the Catholic Church. He was the youngest child of Anna and Johann Moltinger (who worked in a Hallein cellulose factory). In the early 1930s the family moved to Maxglan, which was annexed to Salzburg in 1935. Their son Hermann trained as a baker and became a subtenant at 3 Wehrgasse in August 1934, where his sister Therese also lived until her marriage. In the meantime their parents got divorced. Their mother continued to live in Salzburg-Maxglan and remarried.
The political opinions of the young Hermann MOLTINGER under the Austrian dictatorship from 1933 to 1938 left no clear traces. We do know, however, that the persecuted activists of the banned Revolutionary Socialists (RSÖ) and the Communist Party (KPÖ) saw no viable future for their opposition in Austria and sought more fertile fields for their activism elsewhere, especially in the ranks of the International Brigades that fought for the Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939. And we know that in January 1938 the 22 year old Hermann MOLTINGER was successful in his second attempt to cross the border of Austria and to make his way to Spain.
New arrivals, mostly young men without any military experience, generally had to undergo military training at the headquarters of the International Brigades before they would be sent into combat. So it is doubtful whether Hermann MOLTINGER was able to participate in the last battles of the International Brigades before they were dissolved in the fall of 1938 and marched in their farewell parade in Barcelona. Early in 1939 the anti-Republican and pro-fascist forces of General Franco completed their victory over the Spanish Republic with the aid of Italian troops and German and Italian bomber. Demobilized members of the International Brigades were evacuated across the border into France – where most of them were confined to internment camps at first.
When France was occupied by German troops during WWII they deported identifiable Austrian, German and Italian former members of the International Brigades to the Dachau concentration camp where they were registered as »Spanish Reds«. After the liberation of Dachau the survivor Fritz Pillwein from Vienna reported that Hermann MOLTINGER had joined the French Foreign Legion’s 13e demi-brigade de Légion étrangère in 1940 and had fought with them against the German invasion of Norway. Pillwein said MOLTINGER had been captured in Narvik and had been deported to Dachau after having been imprisoned in the Mauthausen concentration camp. Fritz Pillwein also said that Hermann MOLTINGER was killed in the Dachau concentration camp.
Research has failed to find any record indicating that MOLTINGER had ever been registered as a prisoner in either Mauthausen or in Dachau (but because some prisoners were registered under aliases that they were using when arrested or taken prisoner instead of their real names we can’t be sure that he wasn’t there). It is also strange that his death in the war years, which is beyond doubt, was never registered – neither in the registry of the Hallein parish nor in the city of Salzburg’s police registration files (where his official residence registration had never been cancelled). That means that he was never declared legally dead.
But it is notable that the Nazis designated Hermann MOLTINGER’s mother as politically suspect, presumably because her son was identified as having fought against Nazi Germany – or at least having been in the International Brigades. Frau Anna Prossinger (as she was called after her remarriage) survived the terror years and died in 1976 at age 83 not far from the last address of her missing son Hermann, who probably never lived to see his 30th birthday.
- Salzburg city and state archives
- Archives of the Dachau and Mauthausen memorial sites
- Lexikon der österreichischen Spanienkämpfer 1936-1939, published by Hans Landauer in cooperation with Erich Hackl, Vienna 2008, page 165
Translation: Stan Nadel
Laid 25.09.2018 at Salzburg, Wehrgasse 3