Hans Schafranek

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Hans Schafranek, Bad Radkersburg, August 2019

Hans Schafranek (born August 5, 1951 in Schärding , Upper Austria ) is an Austrian contemporary historian and journalist.


Hans Schafranek has lived in Vienna since 1970, and in Berlin since 2012. He studied modern history at the University of Vienna and was awarded a doctorate in March 1987. phil. PhD. The extensive research on his three-volume dissertation “Kurt Landau and Bolshevism. Outlines of a Political Biography ”were published as a book. Between 1977 and 1982 his research led him to longer stays in Mexico, USA, Spain, the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, where he researched in numerous archives. A Fulbright scholarship (1981) enabled him to spend four months at Harvard University, where he was one of the first European historians to work on Leon Trotsky's estate, which was closed for research until 1980, and to open up the "Austriaca" contained therein for research.

Since 1982 Schafranek has been working as a freelancer for the Documentation Archive of the Austrian Resistance (DÖW), with occasional interruptions . Together with Barry McLoughlin, he also edited an 800-page volume of documents published in 1999 on the exile of Austrians in the Soviet Union for the DÖW.

Research projects (selection)

After completing his dissertation, Schafranek carried out numerous scientific research projects, which mainly included the following thematic focuses:

  • Comparative dictatorship research (KZ - GULag; Hitler-Stalin Pact)
  • Exile and Stalinist Terror in the USSR
  • Moscow Show Trials 1936–1938
  • Schutzbund children
  • Spanish Civil War
  • Soviet radio and parachute agents 1941–1945 (project of the VW Foundation )
  • Intelligence services in World War II
  • National Socialism in Austria (mainly 1933–1938)
  • Austrian Legion 1933-1938 (organizational history, social structure, biographies)
  • Regional historical aspects of the Austrian Legion (Salzburg, Upper Austria, Styria, Lower Austria)
  • National Socialist Femicide
  • Gestapo spies 1938-1945: Project of the Fund for the Promotion of Scientific Research (FWF), 2007-2009
  • Illegal Austrian SS
  • Lower Austrian Nazi perpetrators (district leaders, SS members, legionaries)
  • Transnational resistance against National Socialism in World War II

From these and several other projects, 16 book publications and over 70 scientific articles have so far emerged. They are based on research in around 60 European and American archives.

New findings on the Nazi putsch in July 1934

For decades, research assumed that the SS-led putsch in Vienna (i.e. the occupation of the Federal Chancellery, the assassination of Federal Chancellor Dollfuss and the storming of the RAVAG radio station ) and the SA uprisings or attempts at uprising in "the" federal states (approx Fatalities) were two largely independent, barely connected companies. This view took into account the long-known conflicts between the Austrian SA leadership (since the NSDAP ban in Munich in June 1933) and the NSDAP regional leadership in Austria (also in exile in Munich) and the SS, but according to Schafranek, the assessment was completely inaccurate the interests of regional SA leaderships, d. H. the tacit acceptance of a uniform bloc in all Austrian federal states. In fact, this was by no means the case.

With his book "Sommerfest mit Preisschießen", published in 2006, and subsequent smaller publications, Schafranek presented an extensive reinterpretation of the unsuccessful attempted coup by the Austrian National Socialists, mainly based on the findings of documents in the Federal Archives, in which, above all, the political "power parallellogram" of four NS Fractions (Austrian SA leadership in exile in Munich, regional leadership Austria of the NSDAP, SS in Austria, Styrian homeland security) and their preparations for a coup were the focus of the investigation. Their results can be summarized as follows:

The July coup of the Austrian National Socialists was the first attempt by the state to overthrow an illegal movement. H. should be triggered, controlled and coordinated by keywords in a radio message (SS) and by radio traffic (SA).

Between the NSDAP regional leadership in Austria, the Vienna SS and the heads of the Styrian Homeland Security ( Hanns Albin Rauter , Konstantin Kammerhofer , August Meyszner ), who transferred this fascist formation to the SA in spring 1934, crystallized shortly after the two organizations were united a secret alliance emerged, while the relations between the former homeland security officers and the Austrian SA leadership in Munich (Reschny) were rather tense and characterized by communication deficits. The preparations for a coup by this coalition, which had been rapidly advancing since the end of June 1934, to which the Styrian Land Federation and the Gauleitung Tirol of the NSDAP belong, remained largely or completely hidden from the Austrian SA leadership. The leadership of SA Standard 27 (Graz Land), for example, which was loyal to Reschny, was systematically prevented from communicating (radio, couriers) with “Munich”, and the standard itself was literally “dropped” during the uprising.

On July 25, 1934 at 1 p.m., simultaneously with the occupation of the Federal Chancellery, the RAVAG putschists in Vienna announced the alleged resignation of Federal Chancellor Dollfuss . This brief message was the notification for the “actual” signal (keyword “elementary event occurred”) at the beginning of the uprising in Styria. Although the cue did not materialize, thousands of SA men took action in Styria as early as 2 p.m. This uprising meant direct support for the Vienna SS putschists and was closely coordinated with them. The murder of a senior police officer in Innsbruck (also at 2 p.m.) by an SS terrorist on behalf of the Tyrolean Gauleitung had the same function.

The upper group XI of the SA (Reschny, Kirchbach) planned to trigger an armed uprising in autumn 1934 after a huge escalation of the explosives terror practiced up to then, because the equipment and arming of the "illegals" was not yet completed in the summer. However, it was by no means intended to support an SS-led coup.

The Austrian SA leadership was completely surprised by the unexpected and apparently "spontaneous" strike of the Styrian SA, which was actually directed by the state management, as they had recently tied such a strike to a radio placet of the upper group XI.

After heavy shelling, the RAVAG putschists surrendered, and at 4 p.m. Austrian radio denied the announcement of the alleged resignation of Chancellor Dollfuss, who died of his injuries at 3:45 p.m. A major part of the SS-led coup had already failed, and there was no talk of Rintelen as the “designated” new Federal Chancellor. When the defeat of the Chancellery putschists became apparent a little later and at the same time the uprising of the Styrian SA, which was completely "misunderstood" by the Austrian SA leadership in its organizational origins, objectives and political context (see above), widened and initially achieved greater successes, Reschny alerted the Austrian Legion stationed in Bavaria (6 p.m.). All further, apparently incomprehensible steps taken by the Austrian SA leader did not take place despite the disastrous outcome of the events in Vienna, but on the contrary precisely as a result of the failure of the hated SS competitors.

Since the SA radio link between Munich and Vienna was not working, the brothers Hans and Franz Hiebl were sent to Vienna on the evening of July 25th from Munich as couriers with the SA uprising plan, which became known as the "Kollerschlager Document". Franz Hiebl was arrested immediately after crossing the border illegally near Kollerschlag, while his brother, also a new finding of the author, was able to make his way to Vienna and on July 26th. delivered the SA uprising plan including the cipher key to SA-Obersturmbannführer Fritz Hamburger at 7 a.m. However, Fritz Hamburger and the Vienna SA leader Oskar Türk saw no immediate need for action, all the less since the police and the armed forces had the situation completely under control and hundreds of National Socialists had already been arrested. Under these circumstances, an "action" by the poorly equipped SA men in Vienna (18 percent had handguns) would have meant collective suicide. (Oskar Türk fled to the German Reich on August 4, 1934, Fritz Hamburger was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1935 and given amnesty in February 1938 as a result of the “Berchtesgaden Agreement”).

The dispatch of the Hiebl brothers meant the beginning of an ad-hoc offensive strategy that was not planned in this form and that was improvised in the shortest possible time, which was also reflected in corresponding radio commands for armed uprising ("summer party with price shooting") to the SA brigades in Carinthia (22 O'clock), Upper Austria, Tyrol and Salzburg. As a result of the countermeasures taken by the government, the arrival of the previously mentioned decrypted radio commands was delayed considerably, which - in addition to the unwillingness to start an armed fight against a well-armed opponent in a hopeless situation (Salzburg, Tyrol) - also the lack of simultaneity of the SA -guided surveys (July 25-27) explained.

The offensive launched by SA Upper Group XI initially (also) had a military-tactical relief function for the benefit of the 12,000 Styrian insurgents who, as explained above, had been "instrumentalized" for another Nazi faction. At the same time, however, Reschny's initiative developed into a struggle for state power in Austria, whereby, at least indirectly, in the event of a victorious outcome, the SS in the German Reich were also sought to weaken considerably. The success of such an ad-hoc concept would - at least in Reschny's understanding - possibly also have meant June 30, 1934, i.e. H. to “reverse” the disempowerment of the German SA, with far-reaching consequences for political development in the early phase of the Nazi regime. Schafranek formulated the last mentioned thesis very cautiously, since, as he himself emphasized, there is no empirical evidence for it.



  • Resistance and betrayal. Gestapo spies in the anti-fascist underground 1938–1945. Verlag Czernin, Vienna 2017, ISBN 978-3-7076-0622-5 . (2nd edition, Vienna 2020)
  • From the NS ban to the "Anschluss". Styrian National Socialists 1933-1938 (together with Herbert Blatnik). Czernin Verlag, Vienna 2015.
  • Mercenaries for the connection. The Austrian Legion 1933-1938. Verlag Czernin, Vienna 2011, ISBN 978-3-7076-0331-6 .
  • Summer party with prize shooting. The unknown history of the Nazi putsch in July 1934. Verlag Czernin, Vienna 2006, ISBN 978-3-7076-0081-0 (review by Wolfgang Neugebauer at Die Presse ).
  • War in the ether. Resistance and espionage in the Second World War (together with Johannes Tuchel). Picus Verlag, Vienna 2004.
  • Austrians in Exile: Soviet Union 1934 - 1945. A documentation by Barry McLoughlin and Hans Schafranek (ed. Documentation archive of the Austrian Resistance), Vienna 1999.
  • Children's home no. 6. Austrian and German children in exile in the Soviet Union. Verlag Döcker, Vienna 1998, ISBN 3-85115-265-4 .
  • Departure - hope - end of the line. Austrians in the USSR 1925-1945 (together with Barry McLoughlin and Walter Szevera). Publishing house for social criticism, Vienna 1997.
  • Strategy of survival. Prisoner societies in concentration camps and GULag (together with Robert Streibel), Picus Verlag, Vienna 1996.
  • "I deserve death". Show trials and political persecution in Central and Eastern Europe 1945 - 1956, Vienna 1991 (together with Wolfgang Maderthaner and Berthold Unfried).
  • The betrayed. Austrians as Victims of Stalinist Terror in the Soviet Union (Ed.), Picus Verlag, Vienna 1991.
  • June 22nd, 1941. The attack on the Soviet Union (together with Robert Streibel). Picus Verlag, Vienna 1991.
  • The Hitler-Stalin Pact. Requirements, backgrounds, effects (according to ed. With Gerhard Bisovsky and Robert Streibel). Picus Verlag, Vienna 1990.
  • Between the NKVD and the Gestapo. The extradition of German and Austrian anti-fascists from the Soviet Union to Nazi Germany 1937–1941 . Verlag ISP, Frankfurt 1990, ISBN 3-88332-181-8 .
  • The short life of Kurt Landau. An Austrian communist as a victim of the Stalinist secret police . Publishing house for social criticism , Vienna 1988, ISBN 3-900351-90-2 .
  • February 1934 in Vienna. Story told (together with Irene Etzersdorfer), Vienna 1984.

Articles in specialist journals, edited volumes, yearbooks, etc. (selection)

  • In the "Hell of Breendonk". Victims - perpetrators - collaborators. Germans in a Belgian police detention camp 1940 - 1944. In: Zeitschrift für Geschichtswwissenschaft, No. 2/2019, pp. 118-138.
  • In the "Hell of Breendonk". A void in the culture of remembrance: Austrians in the Belgian SS reception camp Breendonk . In: DÖW (Ed.), Yearbook 2019
  • The infiltration of the anti-fascist resistance in Lower Austria by V-people of the Gestapo . In: DÖW (Ed.), Fanatiker. Duty Fellow. Resistance, Vienna 2016, pp. 13–50.
  • The 4th illegal central committee of the KPÖ in 1942 - a construct of the Vienna Gestapo. In: Yearbook for Historical Research on Communism 2016, Berlin 2016, pp. 131–147.
  • Austrian fighters in Spain in the Foreign Legion and in the Prestataires companies. In: Lucile Dreidemy u. a. (Ed.), Bananas, Cola, Contemporary History. Oliver Rathkolb and the long 20th century, Volume I, Vienna / Cologne / Weimar 2015, pp. 372–382.
  • The “Anti-Hitler Movement of Austria” and the “Anti-Hitler Movement of Eastern Workers” in the resistance against the Nazi regime 1942 - 1944. In: Documentation archive of the Austrian resistance (ed.), Feindbilder (= yearbook 2015), Vienna 2015, pp. 229-258.
  • Women in the resistance network around Karl Hudomalj. The “Anti-Hitler Movement in Austria” 1942 - 1944. In: Yearbook for Historical Research on Communism 2015, Berlin 2015, pp. 17–38.
  • The Styrian members of the Austrian Legion : regional and local origins, age and occupational structure, NSDAP and SA membership development, management personnel (biographies). In: Hans Schafranek / Herbert Blatnik (eds.), From the Nazi ban to the “Anschluss”. Styrian National Socialists 1933 - 1938, Vienna 2015, pp. 83–124.
  • Nazi female murders in Styria. In: Ibid, pp. 344-382.
  • Biographies of Styrian Nazi actors. In: Ibid., Pp. 440-535.
  • Upper Austrians in the Austrian Legion. In: Upper Austria 1918 - 1938, vol. 1 (edited by the Upper Austrian Provincial Archives), Linz 2014, pp. 169–222.
  • Upper Austrian emigrants as victims of the Stalinist terror in the Soviet Union. In: Upper Austria 1918-1938, Vol. 1, Linz 2014, pp. 223-250.
  • Nazi female murders in Styria. In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte (published by the Institute for Contemporary History Munich), issue 2/2014, pp. 221–245
  • An unknown group of Nazi perpetrators. Biographical sketches of Austrians in the 8th SS Totenkopf standard (1939-1941), in: Documentation archive of the Austrian resistance (ed.), Perpetrators. Austrian Actors in National Socialism, Vienna 2014, pp. 79–106.
  • Viennese Gestapo spies in the vicinity of Soviet radio and parachute agents and as co-founder of the 4th illegal domestic leadership of the KPÖ (1942). In: Zeitgeschichte, 40th year, issue 6, November / December 2013, pp. 323–337.
  • Islands of Solidarity: Living and survival conditions in the anti-fascist underground using the example of a communist resistance network in the miners' milieu of the Ruhr area in 1943. In: Alfred Ableitinger / Martin Moll (eds.), License to detect. Festschrift for Siegfried Beer on his 65th birthday (= series of publications by the Institute for History, Vol. 19), Graz 2013, pp. 371–397.
  • Julius Kornweitz and Leo Gabler - Foreign emissaries of the KPÖ in the sights of the Gestapo, in: Documentation Archive of Austrian Resistance, Yearbook 2011, Vienna 2011, pp. 185–208.
  • The illegal activity of Franz Zielasko in the Ruhr area in 1943, in: International scientific correspondence on the history of the German labor movement, No. 4 (2005), pp. 450–47
  • Company "North Pole". The England game of the German military defense in the years 1942–1944 . In: Hans Schafranek, Johannes Tuchel (Hrsg.): War in the ether. Resistance and espionage in World War II . Picus-Verlag, Vienna 2004, ISBN 3-85452-470-6 , pp. 247-291.
  • In the rear of the enemy. Soviet parachute agents in the German Reich 1942-1944. In: Yearbook 1996. Documentation archive of the Austrian Resistance, Vienna 1996, ISBN 3-901142-27-4 , pp. 10–40.
  • Franz Koritschoner (1892-1941), in: Yearbook for Historical Research on Communism 1995, Berlin 1995, pp. 239–261.
  • The International Lenin School and the "Reisberg Case" (1937), in: Wolfgang Neugebauer (Ed.), From Utopia to Terror. Stalinism Analyzes, Vienna 1994, pp. 135-156. Also printed in: Documentation Archive of Austrian Resistance, Yearbook 1994, Vienna 1994, pp. 75–96.
  • NSDAP and socialists after February 1934. In: Rudolf G. Ardelt , Hans Hautmann (Ed.): Workers and National Socialism in Austria. Vienna / Zurich 1990, pp. 91–128.

Individual evidence

  1. Hans Schafranek: The short life of Kurt Landau. An Austrian communist as a victim of the Stalinist secret police. Publishing house for social criticism, Vienna 1988.
  2. Hans Schafranek: Militant Nazi activists with a retreat base: Salzburgers with the Austrian Legion . In: Peter F. Kramml, Ernst Hanisch (ed.): Hopes and desperation in the city of Salzburg 1938/39. Prehistory - facts - consequences (The city of Salzburg under National Socialism, vol. 1) . = Series of publications of the Archives of the City of Salzburg, Vol. 28 Salzburg 2010, p. 124-161 .
  3. ^ Hans Schafranek: Upper Austrians in the Austrian Legion. In: Oberösterreichisches Landesarchiv (Ed.): Upper Austria 1918-1938 . tape 1 . Linz 2014, p. 169-222 .
  4. Hans Schafranek: The Styrian members of the Austrian Legion: Regional and local origins, age and occupational structure, NSDAP and SA membership development, management staff (biographies) . In: Hans Schafranek, Herbert Blatnik (ed.): From the NS ban to the “Anschluss”. Styrian National Socialists 1933 - 1938. Czernin Verlag, Vienna 2015, ISBN 978-3-7076-0554-9 , pp. 83-124 .
  5. Hans Schafranek: NS-Fememorde in Styria . In: Institute for Contemporary History Munich (Ed.): Quarterly Issues for Contemporary History . No. 2 . Munich 2014, p. 221-245 .
  6. ^ Hans Schafranek: NS-Feme in Innsbruck: Der Mordfall Leikermoser (1935). In: Tyrolean homeland. Yearbook of History and Folklore . tape 73 . Innsbruck 2009, p. 165-184 .
  7. Hans Schafranek: Chapter 11.3: Fememicide and prevented "Rassenschänder": Günther Mark von Traisenthal . In: Mercenaries for the Anschluss. The Austrian Legion 1933 - 1938. Czernin Verlag, Vienna 2011, p. 239-262 .
  8. ^ Hans Schafranek: An unknown group of Nazi perpetrators. Biographical sketches of Austrians in the 8th SS Skull Standard (1939 - 1941). In: Documentation archive of the Austrian resistance (ed.): Täter. Austrian actors in National Socialism (= DÖW yearbook 2014) . Vienna 2014, p. 79-106 .
  9. Hans Schafranek, Andrea Hurton: The role of the SS in the "Aryanizations" in Vienna 1938/39. Biographical case studies. In: Journal of History . tape 12/2012 . Metropol Verlag, Berlin 2012, p. 985-1006 .
  10. ^ Hans Schafranek, Andrea Hurton: Viennese SS members in the "Aryanization" intoxication. Nazi cliques, cliques and interest groups compete for “Jewish” wealth. In: Documentation archive of the Austrian resistance (Ed.): Research on National Socialism and its aftermath in Austria. Vienna 2012, p. 43-66 .
  11. For example the representations by Gerhard Jagschitz , Der Putsch. The National Socialists in Austria in 1934. Graz / Vienna / Cologne 1976, p. 138; On July 25, 1934: The National Socialists in Austria. In: Rolf Steininger , Michael Gehler (Hrsg.): Austria in the 20th century. Vol. 1, Vienna / Cologne / Weimar 1997, p. 281; Wolfgang Etschmann , The Fights in Austria in July 1934 (= Military History Series. Issue 50), Vienna 1984, p. 20.
  12. ^ The 4th illegal central committee of the KPÖ 1942 - a construct of the Vienna Gestapo. Retrieved on February 16, 2020 (German).

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