Josef Wartinger was born in Kirchberg-Thening near Linz in Upper Austria on Februar 6, 1897. He was a married brick layer foreman and lived with his wife at 11 Muhrgasse in Salzburg’s Itzling district.
Josef »Sepp« Wartinger was the district commander of the Republican Defense League in Itzling, and held official positions in the Social Democratic Labor Party and the Construction Workers’ Union until they were all banned by the Dolfuss regime in February 1934. After that he was a member of the illegal Austrian Revolutionary Socialists organization and when the Nazis took over Austria he joined the Communist resistance movement led by Franz Ofner and Anton Reindl. Wartinger was the leader of the illegal Itzling local. At the beginning of 1942 the Gestapo was able to infiltrate a spy into the regional Communist organization led by Anton Reindl, enabling them to roll up and smash the resistance.
In order to stifle forever any organized resistance movement, over the course of 1942 the Gestapo deported seven of the wives of members of the Gnigl and Itzling Communist organization to the Auschwitz extermination camp. Only one of the seven survived. At least 32 Communist resistance members from the city of Salzburg were killed in the Nazis’ prisons and concentration camps – and more than 20 of them were from Gnigl and Itzling.
Josef Wartinger was arrested by the Gestapo on February 10, 1942. A »People’s Court« sentenced him to death for conspiracy to commit treason on March 3, 1943. On July 30, 1943 the 46 year old Josef Wartinger was executed in the Munich-Stadelheim prison.
It is notable that Johann Hofer, the Itzling local Nazi Party group leader, participated in the Salzburg »People’s Court« trial of the members of the Itzling Comunists on March 2-3, 1943 and that he called for a death sentence for all of the accused.1 Josef Wartinger’s widow Marie left Salzburg in the Fall of 1943 and nothing is known about her fate.
On the initiative of the Salzburg State Association of Politically Persecuted Austrians, Concentration Camp and Prison Survivors, the bodies of their comrades murdered in Munich-Stadelheim – Franz Aschenberger, Josef Haidinger, Rudolf Hartl, Leopold Hock, Franz Pöttinger, Josef Thalhammer and Josef wartinger – were exhumed from the forest cemetery in Munich-Perlach. On November 1, 1950 they were ceremonially reburied in the Salzburg City Cemetery with the participation of the Gnigl pastor Franz Dürnberger. The 1988 proposal of the Anti-Fascist Committee to name a public street in Salzburg after Josef Wartinger fell into oblivion.
1 Johann Hofer took part in the »People’s Court« trial of 4 resisters on March 3, 1943 as the Nazi’s local group leader in Itzling. He testified that the defendants were incorrigible Communists and so deserved nothing less than a death sentence.
We also know that Nazi local group leader Johann Hofer instigated the Gestapo’s arrest of the shoemaker Rudolf Beer who lived in Itzling. Beer was deported to the Mauthausen concentration camp where he was murdered. Several other residents of Itzling were denounced to the Gestapo and sent to concentration camps. One such was Frau Elise Kaindl, who according to a police report survived the Ravensbrück concentration camp and returned to find that her home had been totally emptied at Johann Hofer’s instigation.
After the liberation of Salzburg Johann Hofer was interned in the American’s Camp Marcus W. Orr (»Glasenbach«) and he was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment under the Austrian war crimes law in December 1948. But he was soon pardoned (at the beginning of the 1950s) and he was employed on the staff of the Salzburg Electric Power Corporation (SAFE) after he was freed. He died in Salzburg in 1979.
- Salzburg City and State archives
Translation: Stan Nadel
Laid 13.05.2013 at Salzburg, Muhrgasse 11