Koloman Wallisch

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Illustration by Koloman Wallisch.

Koloman Wallisch , Hungarian Wallisch Kálmán , (born February 28, 1889 in Lugos , Kingdom of Hungary , Austria-Hungary , † February 19, 1934 in Leoben ) was an Austrian politician ( SDAP ). He is one of the nine people who were sentenced to death and executed after the February fighting in 1934 .


Koloman Wallisch was born into a family from Banat Swabia in the Hungarian part of the Habsburg Monarchy . After the early death of his father, he had to leave elementary school and began an apprenticeship as a bricklayer at the age of eleven . In 1905 he joined the trade union and was involved in the Hungarian Social Democratic Party ( Szociáldemokrata Párt , SZDP). As was customary at the time, after completing his apprenticeship he went on a journey as a journeyman , which led him to the Austrian part of the monarchy and to Germany .

In 1910, at the age of 21, he was drafted for three years of military service. During this time he also met his future wife Paula Wallisch . When the First World War broke out in 1914 , he was drafted again and served in the Austro-Hungarian Army . Initially stationed in Szeged in the Banat , he was later deployed on the Russian front in Galicia and then on the Italian front . Already in his youth he belonged to the labor movement , the experience at the front finally made him a committed social democrat.

Hungarian Soviet Republic

When the Austro-Hungarian army disintegrated chaotically in November 1918 and the Hungarian regiments left the front, he returned to the Banat. The Kingdom of Hungary was in collapse and Wallisch started immediately after his arrival in Szeged, the Social Democratic stewards to organize. A wave of strikes, anti-war demonstrations and land occupations shook the country. In Budapest, a bourgeois-liberal government was formed under Mihály Károlyi , which also had the support of the Social Democrats, while the Banat was occupied by French troops together with their Serbian and Romanian allies. In the multi-ethnic Banat, the socialist, internationalist model was an attractive alternative to nationalism, which called for the Banat to be divided along ethnic lines. Wallisch organized a workers' council there and, contrary to the social democratic party line, made contacts with local representatives of the Hungarian communists under János Udvardi.

In March 1919, the Károlyi bourgeois government in Budapest was overthrown . Dissatisfied with the disastrous supply situation, the trade unions called a general strike and forced the Social Democrats to give up their support for this government. The left wing of the party now took over power and was able to establish cooperation with the Communist Party (KMP), which was only founded in November 1918 but was growing rapidly. On March 21, 1919, the Hungarian Soviet Republic was proclaimed in Budapest under the de facto leadership of Béla Kun . However, this only had military control in core Hungary, while the Banat was under the occupation of the Entente . This is why left-wing social democrats and communists formed their own Revolutionary Executive Committee (REK) in Szeged. Wallisch, one of the leading functionaries of the local left-wing Social Democrats, was supported by the soldiers in the city. A Red Army was founded and the dictatorship of the proletariat was declared in the city , which was also supported by the remaining Hungarian authorities and numerous associations. Under the eyes of the weak French occupying power, radical socialist reforms were to be implemented along the lines of the Russian Bolsheviks . On March 23, the REK decided as the first measure, also signed by Wallisch, to list all stocks of food and clothing in all households and shops in order to ensure fair distribution among the people in need. In addition, numerous large companies were expropriated and transferred to the ownership of the municipality. On March 25, a decree on the compulsory insurance of workers was passed and the teaching in schools began to be redesigned according to socialist principles. The landowners were also asked to cultivate their fields, otherwise they would be expropriated. In order to enforce these measures, an auxiliary police force made up of trade unionists and soldiers, the “People's Guard” or “Red Guard”, was set up.

This went too far for the French occupying power and they gave the REK an ultimatum on March 26th. The following day the French army marched in and the Hungarian revolutionaries, who were only lightly armed due to the disarmament regulations, had to surrender. The five-day commune of Szeged was over. Wallisch fled with numerous loyal followers from the city to the north-west of Kiskunfélegyháza , which was outside the occupied area. From there they wanted to organize further work in Szeged and the surrounding area, which was only possible underground. Wallisch now became the contact person between this Banat exile group and the council government in Budapest. He was also elected to a revolutionary court tribunal which, under his chairmanship, sentenced five defendants on April 2 for counterrevolutionary activities, including one to death. However, all convicts were pardoned a little later. On June 10, Wallisch was elected to the presidium of the local workers, soldiers and peasants' council. A land reform was discussed, but postponed to later in view of the already advanced cultivation period. Also in June 1919, Wallisch took part as a delegate in Budapest at the council congress of the now unified workers' party. There he represented the position of the Third International in a lecture , advocated the unification of social democrats and communists and said: "As for the name, I am of the opinion that we should be honest and say openly what we are: communists."

In the summer of 1919, however, the Hungarian Soviet Republic was exposed to increasing pressure from neighboring countries, which, with the tolerance of the Entente, wanted to enforce their own territorial claims. To counteract this, the group in exile in Szeged tried to organize a general strike against the counterrevolution and the French occupying forces. In the meantime, however, Szeged had become a rallying point for right-wing Hungarian forces; the former admiral Miklós Horthy had formed a conservative counter-government here. When in August 1919 Czechoslovak and Romanian troops were advancing further and further and were finally able to take Budapest ( Hungarian-Romanian War ), the Soviet Republic collapsed. The right wing of the Social Democrats left the forcibly united Workers' Party and reconciled with the bourgeois forces.

Exile in Austria

Because of the onset of the White Terror , the functionaries of the Soviet Republic had to flee abroad. Koloman Wallisch first went to Mar burg in Yugoslavia . After trying to organize strikes there, he was expelled to Austria. Wallisch landed there in Styria and was subsequently - despite the initial distrust of the social democratic party because of its communist past - party secretary in Fürstenfeld , party secretary and municipal council in Bruck an der Mur , regional party secretary of the SDAP , member of the Styrian state parliament and from 1930 to 1934 a member of the Austrian parliament National Council .

After the Justizpalast fire on July 15, 1927, the Social Democrats called for a one-day general strike across Austria and put the Schutzbund on alert. In Bruck an der Mur, a workers' executive committee under Wallisch's leadership declared a state of emergency on July 16. After presentation of the Heimatblock -Abgeordneten and large German Vice Mayor of Bruck an der Mur, Viktor Hornik, in the Styrian parliament from July 25, 1927 Wallisch had confronted him and other representatives of the local bourgeoisie so, the transfer of the maintenance of public security by the police on the To accept the protective covenant and otherwise threatened with "immediate use of force". In a speech on the main square in Bruck an der Mur on July 16, Wallisch stated:

“The police chief in Vienna has imposed martial law on the workers and no more than three people are allowed to stand together. In response, we will impose standing rights in Bruck an der Mur and no more than three citizens are allowed to stand together. We have forced the citizens to go on strike and everything has to rest [...] We have hoisted a black flag here as a symbol of mourning, but also the red flag, the symbol of proletarian power, is blowing on our town hall. "

The leader of the Styrian homeland security , Walter Pfrimer , mobilized the homeland security on July 17th and threatened to march on Bruck and Graz if the strike did not end on July 18th. The ultimatum was rejected, but the Social Democrats reached an agreement with Governor Hans Paul on an orderly end to the strike.

At the meeting of the Styrian Landtag on July 25, 1927, the focus was on the events in Bruck an der Mur. The Social Democratic Deputy Governor Reinhard Machold spoke of a "stupidity" that his party immediately stopped. Governor Paul affirmed that Wallisch should be held to legal responsibility. On November 3, the Leoben district court's application for criminal prosecution reached the municipal and constitutional committee of the state parliament. Although the Social Democrats argued that Wallisch's actions in Bruck an der Mur were only intended to prevent fatalities and injuries like in Vienna, and that the illegal actions of the Heimwehr had to be taken into account, the extradition request was approved by a majority in the state parliament. The proceedings against Wallisch were opened, but in July 1928 the public prosecutor dropped them.

February 1934

On February 12, 1934, members of the Republican Protection Association in Linz defended themselves against the search for weapons. The executive committee of the Social Democratic Party in Vienna called a general strike and alerted the Schutzbund. Fighting broke out in Bruck an der Mur as well . Armed Schutzbunds occupied the most important squares of the city and attacked buildings in which members of the armed forces affiliated with the government and the gendarmerie had holed up. While Hubert Ruhs was in command of the military, Wallisch, who himself had no leadership role in the Schutzbund, came from Graz to Bruck to take over the political organization. When units of the armed forces moved in , the Schutzbunds left their positions on the morning of February 13th. Initially with 400 men, Wallisch tried to get south over the mountains. Due to bad weather conditions, the group gradually dispersed. In Wallisch, who was supposed to be identified as the “seducer”, a bounty of initially 1,000 and then 5,000 schillings was offered . Eleven Schutzbündler, two gendarmes, a soldier, a member of the Schutzkorps and three bystanders died in the fighting in the Bruck district . 40 people were seriously wounded.

On February 18, 1934 Wallisch was in Ardning arrested (Liezen) and the following day together with Ruhs in Leoben before a court martial found and to death condemned. In order to be able to sentence him to death, the effectiveness of the martial law was extended. According to the historian Rudolf Neck , Wallisch “turned out base motives for revenge into an unfair trial in every respect. [...] Based on the files, it is a judicial murder ordered from above , for which Dollfuss , Schuschnigg and Fey are jointly responsible. ” Martin F. Polaschek states that Wallisch is primarily not because of his active participation in the uprising, but primarily Line was convicted of his position in the labor movement. While Ruhs to life imprisonment was pardoned, Wallisch was on February 19, just before midnight in the courtyard of the Regional Court Leoben by the executioner Johann Lang on Würgegalgen executed .



The grave monument of the freedom fighters in 1934 at the St. Ruprecht cemetery in Bruck an der Mur

After the execution, Wallisch was buried that night in an anonymous grave in the central cemetery in Leoben. The location of the grave site was quickly located by workers and developed - despite all attempts by the authorities to keep the grave secret - into a real place of pilgrimage. The law enforcement agencies struggled to remove the flowers, candles and messages brought at night every day. At Easter, the cemetery even had to be sealed off because a demonstration by the workers was feared. Paula Wallisch was not allowed to visit her husband's grave.

Later the remains were Wallisch under cover of night by a group of members of the Defense League and the Social Democratic Party exhumed and transferred to the cemetery of St. Ruprecht in Bruck an der Mur. The reburial took place under such great secrecy that even the cemetery records kept by the Catholic parish of St. Ruprecht contain no information about it. On the occasion of Wallisch's 15th anniversary of his death, on February 20, 1949, the “grave monument of the freedom fighters” was unveiled at a memorial rally. The former commandant of the Schutzbund and Mayor of Vienna Theodor Körner, Vice Chancellor Adolf Schärf and numerous other social democratic politicians took part, as did Koloman Wallisch's widow , who is now a national councilor . The “grave monument of the freedom fighters” names the names of Wallisch and 12 other fallen members of the Schutzbund who perished in the February fights in Bruck an der Mur, and bears the dedication “The defenders of democracy and victims of February 12, 1934”.


Leoben, memorial plaque for Koloman Wallisch at the east entrance of the LCS

In memory of Wallisch, squares in the Upper Styrian cities of Bruck an der Mur , Kapfenberg and Leoben (2007) were renamed “Koloman-Wallisch-Platz” after the Second World War .


  • Leoben: Monument in the form of a stone block with a commemorative plaque, set up at "Koloman-Wallisch-Platz" at the east entrance of the LCS (this commemorative plaque was once located in the former Galgenhof of the district court )
  • Bruck an der Mur: memorial plaque at "Koloman-Wallisch-Platz" (2006)
  • Vienna: memorial plaque on the facade of the parliament building (2003)
  • Krems: Memorial plaque in Krems-Lerchenfeld
  • Tulln: memorial plaque at the city cemetery

Reception in art

In 1934 Anna Seghers wrote the story The Last Path of Koloman Wallisch , which was published in July of the same year in the exile magazine Neue deutsche Blätter edited by Grete Weiskopf . The text is in the form of a report . Ten weeks after Wallisch's death, Seghers follows his “last journey” in Bruck an der Mur and reports on it in first-person form. Dialogues with people she meets there open up several perspectives on Wallisch: while a timber merchant calls him a propagandist and communist, a “comrade” calls him a communist eater and anti-Bolshevik. The result is a "thoroughly contradicting picture" of the title character, despite the form of the report, Seghers also plays with echoes of the Passion story .

Bertolt Brecht probably wrote a Koloman-Wallisch cantata in 1935 and 1936 , but it remained a fragment, although Brecht continued to work on it and in 1949 there were concrete plans for Hanns Eisler to set it to music . An excerpt from it was first published in 1965 in a volume of poetry from the estate, the entire fragment first in 1982 as part of the Weimar edition of Brecht's works, obtained from Herta Ramthun . The centerpiece of the cantata is the so-called “ballad” by Brecht, a report of the events in bound language, which is essentially based on the book Ein Held Dies ist by Paula Wallisch , the widow of the slain, published in 1935 . The “ballad” is interrupted by songs and antiphon-like dialogues between a “reader” and a choir. The end of the "ballad" awakens associations with the passion:

"In February thirty-four they hanged the fighter against hunger and fron Koloman Wallisch Zimmermannssohn
as a mockery of humanity ."

In connection with Wallisch's afterlife, the social democratic historian Helmut Konrad speaks of an “almost religious exaggeration” for “many who found their political self-definition in the hagiographic tradition of the February fights”.


  • Robert Hinteregger, Karin M. Schmidlechner, Eduard Staudinger: Kolomann Wallisch and the Upper Styrian workers' movement In: Robert Hinteregger, Karl Müller, Edard Staudinger (eds.): On the way to freedom. Impetus for a Styrian contemporary history . Graz 1984, pp. 198-216.
  • Rudolf Neck: Kolomann Wallisch before the court martial . In: Gerhard Pferschy: settlement, power and economy. Festschrift Fritz Posch for his 70th birthday . (= Publications of the Styrian State Archives . Volume 12). Graz (1981), pp. 455-464.
  • Katalin Soos: Koloman Wallisch. A political biography (= materials on the labor movement , No. 57). Europaverlag, Vienna / Zurich 1990.
  • Short biography Koloman Wallisch, in: Josef Fiala: The February fights 1934 in Vienna Meidling and Liesing. A civil war that wasn't . Dissertation, University of Vienna 2012 ( online ), pp. 180–185.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Koloman Wallisch in the Hungarian Soviet Republic. In: funke.at / KPÖ Steiermark. February 7, 2012, accessed February 28, 2019 .
  2. ^ Heimo Halbrainer / Gerald Lamprecht: National Socialism in Styria. Victims, perpetrators, opponents . Studies Verlag, Innsbruck 2015 ISBN 978-3-7065-5758-0 p. 63
  3. parliament.gv.at
  4. ^ Gernot H. Hasiba: Legislation and Administration in Styria 1918 to 1933 . In: Alfred Ableitinger (ed.): Federal state and Reichsgau. Democracy, “corporate state” and Nazi rule in Styria 1918 to 1945 (= History of Styria 9), Böhlau, Vienna 2015, p. 217.
  5. Alfred Ableitinger: Incessantly crisis. Political-social resentment, conflicts and cooperation in the politics of Styria 1918 to 1933/34. In: Alfred Ableitinger (ed.): Federal state and Reichsgau. Democracy, “corporate state” and Nazi rule in Styria from 1918 to 1945 . (= History of Styria 9). Böhlau, Vienna 2015, pp. 98, 163.
  6. ^ Heimo Halbrainer / Gerald Lamprecht: National Socialism in Styria. Victims, perpetrators, opponents . Studies Verlag, Innsbruck 2015 ISBN 978-3-7065-5758-0 p. 63
  7. According to Alfred Ableitinger, the part of the Styrian Homeland Security in this retreat is left. Alfred Ableitinger: Constantly crisis. Political-social resentment, conflicts and cooperation in the politics of Styria 1918 to 1933/34. In: Alfred Ableitinger (ed.): Federal state and Reichsgau. Democracy, “corporate state” and Nazi rule in Styria 1918 to 1945 , Böhlau, Vienna 2015, p. 99.
  8. Alfred Ableitinger: Incessantly crisis. Political-social resentment, conflicts and cooperation in the politics of Styria 1918 to 1933/34. In: Alfred Ableitinger (ed.): Federal state and Reichsgau. Democracy, “corporate state” and Nazi rule in Styria 1918 to 1945 , Böhlau, Vienna 2015, p. 100.
  9. ^ Gernot H. Hasiba: Legislation and Administration in Styria 1918 to 1933 . In: Alfred Ableitinger (ed.): Federal state and Reichsgau. Democracy, “corporate state” and Nazi rule in Styria from 1918 to 1945 . Böhlau, Vienna 2015, pp. 218 f., 236.
  10. Martin F. Polaschek: Instead of “estates-authoritarian”, constantly authoritarian. Styria between 1933 and 1938. In: Alfred Ableitinger (ed.): Federal state and Reichsgau. Democracy, “corporate state” and Nazi rule in Styria from 1918 to 1945 . Böhlau, Vienna 2015, p. 251 f.
  11. a b c Martin F. Polaschek: Instead of “class-authoritarian”, always authoritarian. Styria between 1933 and 1938. In: Alfred Ableitinger (ed.): Federal state and Reichsgau. Democracy, “corporate state” and Nazi rule in Styria from 1918 to 1945 . Böhlau, Vienna 2015, p. 251 f.
  12. ^ Emmerich Tálos: The Austrofascist system of rule. Austria 1933–1938 . 2nd edition, LIT, Vienna 2013, p. 48.
  13. Quoted from Wolfgang Neugebauer: Court jurisdiction and the death penalty in Austria 1933 to 1938 . In: 25 years of the State Treaty. Protocol of the scientific symposium “Justice and Contemporary History” October 24th and 25th, 1980 . Vienna 1981, p. 51.
  14. Marina Brandtner: Refusal to Discourse and Violence. Dimensions of the radicalization of the political climate in the Upper Styrian industrial region 1927–1934. StudienVerlag, Innsbruck / Vienna 2001
  15. Necessary to make an example , in: Wiener Zeitung of February 19, 2004 ( online , accessed December 23, 2018)
  16. Grave monument for the freedom fighters , accessed on December 23, 2018
  17. 100 Years of the Republic: Monuments to the Heroes of the Republic. Retrieved December 24, 2018 .
  18. http://www.generationendialog-steiermark.at/orte/gedenkafel-koloman-wallisch/
  19. https://www.ots.at/presseaussendung/OTS_20031105_OTS0230/gedenkenafeln-fuer-otto-felix-kanitz-und-koloman-wallisch-enthuellt
  20. ^ Koloman Wallisch in the Vienna History Wiki of the City of Vienna
  21. https://www.doew.at/erinnern/biographien/spurensuche/erinnerungszeichen/niederoesterreich/geografisch-biografische-dokumentation/statutarstadt-krems-an-der-donau
  22. Anna Seghers : The last way of Koloman Wallisch , in: ibid., Collected works in individual editions. Volume 9. Stories 1926-1944 , Aufbau Verlag, Berlin 1977; Ernst Hackl, Evelyne Polt-Heinzl (eds.), Im Kältefieber - February Stories 1934 , Picus Verlag Vienna 2014, pp. 203-217
  23. ^ Sonja Hilzinger: Afterword. In: Anna Seghers: Journey to the Eleventh Reich. Stories 1934–1946 . Structure, Berlin 1994, pp. 355-364, here: pp. 357f. The information on first publication can be found in the same volume, "On the Texts", p. 365.
  24. ^ In: Bertolt Brecht: Works . Large annotated Berlin and Frankfurt edition, Volume 14 ("Poems 4"), Berlin, Weimar and Frankfurt 1993, pp. 262–270. The extract quoted below can be found there on p. 269.
  25. For the history of origin, see for example Wolfgang Jeske : Koloman-Wallisch-Kantate. In: Jan Knopf (Ed.): Brecht-Handbuch , Metzler, Stuttgart 2001–2003, Volume II, pp. 270–274, as well as Werner Wüthrich : New Findings on Brecht's Fragment Koloman Wallisch Cantata . In: Dreigroschenheft , Vol. 18 (2011), Issue 2, pp. 31-38, and Issue 3, pp. 30-34.
  26. Helmut Konrad: Explorations on contemporary history . Böhlau Verlag, Vienna-Cologne-Weimar 2016 ISBN 978-3-205-20337-7 p. 189

Web links

Commons : Koloman Wallisch  - Collection of images, videos and audio files