Dissolution by the Nazis of “The Reading and Speaking Club for Jewish
[University] Students in Vienna” ‐ August and September 1938


These document copies received from the Vienna Archives, provide evidence of the dissolution of Die Lese-und Redehalle jüdischer Hochschüle in Wien (The Reading and Speaking [Discussion] Club [Association/Fraternity] for Jewish [University] Students in Vienna) by the Viennese Nazi-authorities in August and September 1938. This Jewish academic organization and its dissolution by the Nazis are relevant to this website’s focus on the Jellinek family’s confrontation with the Holocaust because the forced closure and theft of this association’s library was one more psychological trauma that Karl Jellinek had to endure. Die Lese-und Redehalle jüdischer Hochschüle in Wien (hereinafter referred to as the “Halle”) had been central to Dr. Karl Jellinek’s life both before and after his 1923 - 27 (and possibly longer), presidency. Karl’s brothers, Max and Siegfried Jellinek also participated in this organization.

See Karl Jellinek’s Biography page and photos in the Images section for more information, including re: Karl’s representation of the “Halle” at the 1925 opening ceremonies of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

The “Halle,” chartered (under a slightly different name) by Ruben Bierer in 1894, played a major part in Jewish academic life in interwar Vienna, with a special emphasis on the Zionist movement. The purpose of this fraternity-like association, as stated in its 1913 statutes, was to support the community of Jewish students, as well as their cultural aims and interests. Although Ruben Bierer’s original conception of the “Halle” was as an umbrella organization for the already existing Jewish academic ‘fraternities,’ the “Halle” turned into a students’ club with a library open for Jewish students both male and female. The “Halle” provided rooms for studies, as well as a vast selection of newspapers, mainly Jewish and especially Zionist. The “Halle” also had many interest-related departments, such as Hebrew and French languages, literature, sciences, music, sports, stenography, as well as aid for poor students, including rooms heated in the winter and affordable meals.

The Nazi procedure of liquidation of Jewish organizations was always the same and had two main aspects: the closing and cessation of all activities and the seizure of the organization’s property on behalf of the Reich. Contrary to the (pre-Nazi) Austrian law that stipulated that the statutes of any private association (Verein) had to contain a paragraph concerning the dissolution concluded by its members, the dissolution of the “Halle” took place by German Nazi authorities and German “law.” This overarching Nazi ruling for the liquidation of associations can be seen at this link to the May 1938 Law Gazette for the Land of Austria, section #137: http:/alex.onb.ac.at/cgi-content/alex?apm=0&aid=glo&datum=19380004&seite=00000403&zoom=2

The Nazis’ specific formal procedures to enact the “Halle’s” liquidation is revealed in these documents as follows:

a.) Document dated August 30, 1938: Der Reichskommissar für die Wiedervereinigung Österreichs mit dem Deutschen Reich (the commissioner of the Empire for the reunion of Austria and the German Reich) commanded the dissolution of the association and the annexation of its possessions This decision was handed down for execution by the Polizei-Direktion, Wien (Police Headquarters in Vienna).

b.) Document dated September 3, 1938: Polizei-Direktion is submitting the order for official deletion to the Vienna Magistrate in the Magistratsabteilung 2 (City of Vienna, Department 2., which had authority over religious and school affairs, associations, clubs, public charities and more. The official head of the association is identified by the Police as “Filip Fischgrund, (Vienna District II., Ferdinand Street 13/9)

c.) Document dated September 10, 1938: The Magistratsabteilung 2 (City of Vienna, Department 2.) is executing the order as follows: Deletion of the association in the register of associations via Bescheid (official juridical decision/order), communicated to Fischgrund. (CC: Reichskommissar and police headquarters) The official order states: The organization is dissolved. Any gatherings or even contact of its members among each other is prohibited. The wearing of the emblems, ribbons, pins, etc. is forbidden. Any infringement will be fined.

Concerning the properties of the “Halle”: The vast library of the “Halle” was of special interest to the Nazis and brought after seizure to „Gauhaus“, the seat of „Reichskomissar“ in the former (and after 1945 to this day) Austrian Parliament. At least one volume could be found there in 2014 to be restituted to the Viennese Israelitsche Kultusgemeinde (the Jewish Community of Vienna). Another volume happened to surface in the library of Julius Streicher, Nazi-propagandist and Editor of the influential, rabidly anti-semitic newspaper „Stürmer“ in Nuremberg.

The above comments are a compilation of paraphrased and quoted historical information, summaries, explanations and partial translations generously provided by Gregor Gatscher-Riedl, Ph.D., archivist in Perchtoldsdorf, Austria and by Andrew Simon, retired archivist in the Municpal and Provincial Archives of Vienna. Paulette Jellinek wrote the first paragraph and takes responsibility as well, for any inadvertent errors produced by her assembling and rewording of Dr. Gatscher-Riedl’s and Mr. Andrew Simon’s communications to me.


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