Hubert Ranzenberger was born in Münzkirchen (in the Schärding district of Upper Austria) on February 15, 1901. He was a locksmith & mechanic by trade and belonged to the Austrian Communist Party (KPÖ) that had been banned in May 1933. He lived and worked in Kitzbühel in Tyrol until September of 1934, but then he was forbidden to live there any longer because of his political activities. He took refuge in Salzburg and organized the Communist Party here under the alias »Kern«. The Austrian police began rounding up the members of the illegal KPÖ in 1936 and arrested 20 members in Salzburg. In the following Salzburg Communist Trial the State Court sentenced Hubert Ranzenberger to 20 months strict arrest – on June 26, 1936. In June 1937 he was banned from living in Salzburg.
This persecution of illegal Communists and Socialists by the Austro-Fascist government was instrumental in leading some of them to go to Spain and take up arms against fascism in defense of the Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War. They fought in the February 12, Thälmann, Edgar André and Hans Beimler battalions of the International Brigades. We know that Ranzenberger traveled to Spain with several of his comrades in July 1937. He fought in the Edgar André battalion, and he received medical care in Benicàssim in March 1938. We can assume that he fled to France after General Franco’s fascists defeated the forces of the Spanish Republic and that he was interned there for a while before he returned to Salzburg – which had been taken over by Nazi Germany while he was gone. At some point he was arrested by the Gestapo and deported to the Dachau concentration camp. No record was made of any of this in his file at the police registration office in Salzburg.
We know for certain that Hubert Ranzenberger was registered in the Dachau concentration camp as a »Spanish Red« on October 6, 1941 and that he was transferred to Lublin on January 28, 1944. He was one of the skilled workers, carpenters, fitters and mechanics who took the place of murdered Jewish prisoners in the Majdanek concentration camp. As prisoner number 6876 Hubert Ranzenberger worked as a slave laborer in the Lipowa-street sub-camp operated by the German Equipment Works (the DAW), the economic arm of the SS. We don’t know if he was still alive when the SS cleared out the Lublin-Majdanek concentration camp and it was liberated by the Red Army on July 23, 1944. The SS men murdered all the witnesses to their crimes and the surviving prisoners were sent on death marches or transferred to Auschwitz. All signs of the fate of the 43 year old Hubert Ranzenberger disappear in the confusion of those last months of the terror.
- Salzburg City and State archives
- Dachau and Majdanek concentration camp memorial archives
- Documentation archive of the Austrian Resistance (DÖW), Lexikon der österreichischen Spanienkämpfer 1936 – 1939 (Vienna 2008, p. 184f).
Translation: Stan Nadel
Laid 02.07.2014 at Salzburg, Schallmooser Hauptstraße 8