Johann Koplenig

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Johann Koplenig (1963)

Johann Koplenig (born May 15, 1891 in Jadersdorf im Gitschtal , Hermagor district , Carinthia , † December 13, 1968 in Vienna ) was an Austrian politician and chairman of the Communist Party of Austria for twenty years . As one of the three deputies of the State Chancellor in the provisional Renner government , he played a key role in the creation of the Second Republic. From 1945 to 1959 Koplenig was a member of the National Council .

Childhood and youth

Johann Koplenig came from a family of small houses. He was one of four children. School fees had to be paid for attending school, which exceeded the family's financial means. Koplenig only completed two-class compulsory elementary school. Then Koplenig went to a shoemaker to be an apprentice. In the years 1909 to 1910 Koplenig went on the roll and came into contact with social democrats. He became a member of the SDAP . Via Steinfeld and Salzburg he reached Judenburg , where in 1910 he co-founded the local association of shoe and leather workers.

1911 Koplenig after a Judenburg strike the shoemaker had organized, laid off and went to Knittelfeld , where he worked at the shoemaker Flatschacher. He founded the local branch of the "Association of Young Workers Austria". On the occasion of the l. At the Styrian Youth Congress in 1912, Koplenig was elected one of four main stewards of Styria . In 1913 Koplenig was elected as a delegate for the Congress of the Socialist Youth International . The start of the war in the summer of 1914 prevented this congress from being held. Koplenig had to enter at the beginning of the war, came to the Eastern Front, was injured and was finally taken prisoner by Russia on November 4, 1914 .

Communist Party of Austria

In 1918 Koplenig joined the Bolshevik party and became a senior member of the prisoner-of-war group in Nizhny Novgorod . Subsequently he was active as a propagandist for the Bolshevik cause in various prisoner-of-war camps in the Urals . In this position he was in charge of the work of the culture and education department of the Office for the Return of Prisoners of War .

In July / August 1920 Koplenig returned from captivity to Austria , to Knittelfeld, where he was welcomed by the party functionaries of the local social democracy . For the elections in October Koplenig was to be the district election secretary. Koplenig did not accept the offer of the Social Democratic Party and stood for the KPÖ in the elections in October 1920, in which the KPÖ achieved 24 votes. On February 26, 1921, the local group of the KPÖ was founded in the Gasthaus Schöberl in Knittelfeld.

Koplenig worked in the shoe repair workshop of the Federal Railways , where he was soon dismissed due to his political convictions. In March 1922, on the 5th Reich Party Congress of the KPÖ, he was elected one of the chairmen and representative of Styria in the party leadership. In February 1923 Koplenig became state secretary for the KPÖ Styria. He moved to Bruck an der Mur, where the national organization was based. In the years 1924 to 1927 there were fierce factional struggles in the KPÖ, which paralyzed the KPÖ in its political work. In 1923 Koplenig was summoned to Vienna by telegram . The 7th party congress in February 1924 brought renewed factional struggles. Georgi Dimitrov became an EKKI advisor for the KPÖ. A motion of no confidence against the Tomann faction led to fights. AI representatives set up a provisional line. As a "provincial" who was far from the Viennese "quarrels", Koplenig became provisional Reich Secretary. There was a Bolshevization, a conversion of the party organization to factory cells and unemployed factions.

Illegality and anti-fascist struggle

After the Justice Palace fire in July 1927, Koplenig was arrested, charged with incitement and high treason, but acquitted. During this time the KPÖ began to take a stand against the emerging National Socialism . In May 1933 the KPÖ was banned by the Dollfuss government and made illegal. After the February fights in 1934 , the Social Democratic Party was also banned.

As a result of the events in February 1934, many Social Democrats joined the KPÖ, which became a mass party while illegally . Koplenig was expatriated from Austria by Austrofascism and went to Prague, from where the illegal work was organized. Following the 7th World Congress of the Communist International in 1935, the question of the Austrian nation was discussed in the KPÖ , which led to the KPÖ advocating a broad front for all political parties in the struggle for Austria's independence. This position - the struggle for a free and independent Austria - was to determine the KPÖ's resistance to National Socialism from 1938 to 1945.

In May 1938 Koplenig fled from Prague to Paris, where the party was now headed. After the beginning of the war in September 1939, the exile in Paris had to be given up, and Koplenig went to Moscow, where he took over the management of the Austria section of the Central European Office of the Comintern. From here it was fought for the re-establishment of a free and independent Austria. From 1942 Koplenig spoke again and again on Radio Moscow to those in Austria who dared to listen to the " enemy broadcasters " in secret, against the Nazi regulations .

Co-founder of the Second Republic

Austrian delegation to the World Youth Games in Budapest, 1949. On the signs Josef Stalin and Johann Koplenig.

After the liberation of Vienna by the Red Army , Koplenig returned to Vienna from Moscow in April 1945 and, on behalf of the KPÖ, was a co-founder of the Second Republic . He was one of the four signatories of the Austrian Declaration of Independence of April 27, 1945 and a member of the government from the same day.

Until the appointment of the Federal Government Figl I on December 20, 1945 after the first National Council elections of the Second Republic on November 25, 1945 , he was State Secretary without a portfolio in the provisional state government chaired by Renner and a member of the political cabinet council made up of Renner and ever composed of a State Secretary of the three parties (Koplenig called himself Vice Chancellor).

From the elections in November 1945 (KPÖ 174,257 votes or 5.4 percent, four seats) through the elections in 1949 (five seats) and 1956 (three seats) to the elections in 1959, in which the KPÖ no longer received parliamentary seats, Koplenig worked as a member of the National Council.

As early as March 1946, in a memorandum to Stalin, Koplenig urged the swift confiscation of commercial enterprises in Eastern Austria in order to give the KPÖ an "extremely strong economic position of power". Due to the lack of success of the KPÖ at the ballot box, the party explored the possibility of partitioning Austria along the zone borders in 1947/48. This was rejected by Moscow, however, and Koplenig and Friedl Fürnberg were then ordered to go to the Kremlin for "head washing" by Central Committee Secretary Andrej Schdanov .

When the break between Tito and Stalin occurred in the summer of 1948 , the KPÖ group around Koplenig and Friedl Fürnberg tended to Moscow, while Ernst Fischer and the Carinthian Communists stood up for Tito.

At his own request, Koplenig resigned from the chairmanship of the KPÖ in May 1965, on the occasion of the 19th party congress. He was honored with the honorary chairmanship and Franz Muhri was elected chairman of the KPÖ. At this point the clashes between the so-called revisionist forces around Ernst Fischer and Franz Marek and the supporters of Marxism-Leninism in the KPÖ began.

Private life

Koplenig was married to the historian and translator Hilde Koplenig (1904–2002), a daughter of Samuel Oppenheim, in his second marriage since 1929 . During the war the couple lived in Moscow; they had two children. The family lived in Vienna since 1945 and from 1960, like the later chief ideologist of the KPÖ, Ernst Wimmer , who was sponsored by Johann Koplenig, in what is now known as the Helmut-Qualtinger-Hof in Döbling , a communal residential building. The daughter Elisabeth Markstein (1929–2013) was a Slavist, translator and author.

On December 13, 1968, Johann Koplenig died of cancer in Vienna. He was cremated and his ashes were buried on December 31, 1968 in the urn grove of the Simmering fire hall , Section 7, Ring 3, Group 4, No. 13. Ernst Koplenig's urn was buried there on April 23, 1969 and Hilde Koplenig's urn on April 25, 2002.


Jan Schneider: The Koplenig monument in front of the former headquarters of Globus Verlag

In front of the former building of the communist party publisher, Globus Verlag , in Vienna 20th , Höchstädtplatz 3, there is a Johann Koplenig monument. A square bronze relief by Jan Schneider, sculptor at St. Stephen's Cathedral , former assistant to Alfred Hrdlicka , was placed on a stone base, from which the face of the politician emerges. One of the labels indicates that Koplenig was Vice Chancellor of the 1st government of liberated Austria .


  • Johann Koplenig: Speeches and essays 1924–1950 , Stern, Vienna 1951
  • Johann Koplenig: The way of the workers' leader , Stern, Vienna 1951
  • Hilde Koplenig: Alfred Klahr 1904–1943. [recte: 1944] in Zeitgeschichte, Vol. 3, Issue 4, 1976, pp. 97-111
  • This: Johann Koplenig: Captivity and Revolution 1915–1920 , in Zeitgeschichte, vol. 5, issue 9/10, 1978, pp. 351–371
  • this .: Johann Koplenig: The beginning 1891–1927 , in Zeitgeschichte, Volume 8, Issue 8, 1981, pp. 303–322
  • Ilse Korotin & Karin Nusko Ed .: "... experienced enough history." Hilde Koplenig 1904–2002. Praesens, Vienna 2008 (memories of Hilde K.)
  • Elisabeth Markstein: Moscow is much more beautiful than Paris. Life between two worlds , Milena, Vienna 2010

Web links

Commons : Johann Koplenig  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. The communist Koplenig - completely acquitted. In:  Neue Freie Presse , January 10, 1928, p. 9 (online at ANNO ).Template: ANNO / Maintenance / nfp
  2. StGBl. No. 1/1945
  3. ^ Nationalrat (Austria) #Nationalrat election results in the Second Republic
  4. ^ Wolfgang Mueller: The Soviet occupation in Austria 1945-1955 and their political mission . Böhlau Verlag Wien, 2005, ISBN 978-3-205-77399-3 ( [accessed on February 12, 2019]).
  5. Herbert Lackner : The wrestling with the bear. In: . April 9, 2005, accessed February 12, 2019 .
  6. Manfried Rauchsteiner: The special case. The occupation time in Austria 1945 to 1955 , publisher Heeresgeschichtliches Museum / Military Science Institute, special edition, Vienna 1984, p. 235
  7. Database of the Vienna city administration website  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /