Theodor Innitzer

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Theodor Innitzer (1932)
Cardinal Theodor Innitzer in Cappa magna , ca.1933
Support for the Anschluss of Austria (1938)
Bust of Theodor Innitzer on Kardinal-Innitzer-Platz
Cardinal coat of arms

Cardinal Theodor Innitzer (born December 25, 1875 in Neugeschrei , Bohemia ; † October 9, 1955 in Vienna ) was an Austrian clergyman, professor of the New Testament at the University of Vienna from 1911 , Minister of Social Affairs in 1929/30 and Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Vienna from 1932 .

Priest, professor, minister

Innitzer was born the son of William Innitzer, a citizen in Vejprty , house no. 362 and Posamentiers in a textile factory, and his wife Maria, nee Seidl, daughter of mine Beamtes from the House no. 242. After compulsory education, he joined briefly as an apprentice in a textile factory. The dean of his home parish made it possible for him to attend the grammar school in Kadaň between 1890 and 1898 .

In 1898 he entered the Vienna Seminary and received on 25 July 1902, the priestly ordination . First he was chaplain in Pressbaum , then in 1910 prefect of studies and later sub-rain of the Vienna seminary.

Innitzer was a member of the Catholic student associations K.Ö.HV Nordgau Wien and the K.Ö.HV Franco-Bavaria Wien in the ÖCV as well as the K.Ö.L. Maximiliana in the K.Ö.L.

In 1906 he was promoted to Dr. theol. obtained his doctorate at the University of Vienna and completed his habilitation in 1908. He was then a private lecturer , from 1911 to 1932 professor and from 1913 he held the chair for New Testament exegesis at the University of Vienna. In 1923 he was involved in founding the Queen of the Apostles Mission Society . In 1928/29 he became rector of the University of Vienna. In 1929/30 he was a Minister of Social Affairs in the Schober III cabinet , and in 1931/32 he was dean of the theological faculty.

Archbishop of Vienna

On September 19, 1932 he was from Pius XI. appointed Archbishop of Vienna, he was ordained bishop on October 16 of the same year by the Apostolic Nuncio in Austria, Enrico Sibilia ; Co-consecrators were Ernst Karl Jakob Seydl and Franz Kamprath , both auxiliary bishops in Vienna. From 1932 to 1949 he was also the Apostolic Administrator of Burgenland . On March 13, 1933 he was accepted into the College of Cardinals as a cardinal priest with the titular church of San Crisogono . In the same year he founded the Cathedral and Diocesan Museum. The Parliament elimination , including the establishment of an authoritarian dictatorship by Engelbert Dollfuss to the Innitzer close contact held, was welcomed by him. The Catholic Church was one of the pillars of the Austrofascist system in the following years .

In the 1930s he was one of the few Western personalities to protest against the " Holodomor ", a famine in Ukraine initiated by the Soviets. As a result, he launched an international and interdenominational aid campaign for the hunger victims. On August 20, 1933, Innitzer published an urgent appeal on the front page of the newspaper Die Reichspost : "Cardinal Innitzer calls the world against starvation in Russia." He also organized conferences to draw the public's attention to the Holodomor.

"Connection" of Austria

His behavior after the "Anschluss" of Austria to the Third Reich aroused much criticism . Before the referendum on the Anschluss on April 10, 1938, he publicly spoke out in favor of the Anschluss, under strong pressure from the National Socialist leadership. When Adolf Hitler visited the Hotel Imperial in Vienna on March 15, 1938 , he “let the bells ring”, paid an official visit to the “leader sent by God” and on March 18, together with the bishops, signed one suggested by Gauleiter Bürckel Solemn declaration in favor of the Anschluss of Austria. Advised by Bürckel, Innitzer signed the cover letter by hand with the formula ... and Heil Hitler! . This declaration, together with a copy of this Hitler salute, was distributed through posters throughout the German Reich without the consent of the bishops .

After Innitzer had represented the political line of the Vatican in Austrofascism, the Holy See now distanced itself from Innitzer's declaration. At the request of Pope Pius XI. Innitzer had to sign a clarification on April 6, 1938 in Rome, which was published in the Osservatore Romano . The Pope informed the Archbishop that there was no more shameful episode of the Church than the “Solemn Declaration of the Austrian Bishops”. The hope for a - promised - church-friendly course of the new regime was not fulfilled. Church newspapers and associations were soon banned. The Concordat was also canceled. These steps moved Innitzer to turn around in dealing with the new regime.

Rosary Festival October 1938

As every year, on October 7, 1938, Cardinal Innitzer invited the youth to a devotion for the traditional Rosary Festival. Due to the existing ban on Catholic associations, 300 or at most 2000 young people were expected. However, around 9,000 young people filled St. Stephen's Cathedral down to the last seat, creating an impressive atmosphere. Innitzer preached the famous words to the young people: "Now [we have to] confess our faith all the more steadfastly, to Christ - our leader!" And the crowd burst into jubilation. After the prayer, the young people went to the archbishop's palace, singing hymns , where they shouted “We want to see our bishop!”. The following day troops of the Hitler Youth stormed the palace, they smashed windows, destroyed paintings and threw furniture out of the window. Only after 40 minutes, when the violent youth had long since disappeared, did the police slowly arrive. Many historians see in this devotion and the rosary demonstration the origin of the Catholic Austrian resistance.

In 1940 the cardinal founded the Archbishop's Relief Agency for non-Aryan Catholics . She helped hundreds of Catholic “non-Aryans” to flee to a safe foreign country.

Sermon 1944

In October 1944 Innitzer held a sermon in the Vienna Reindorf parish , at which members of the local NSDAP group also listened and wrote a report about it. In their report they criticized the fact that Innitzer's speech was "cleverly demoralized". Statements like the following are probably thought of: “You don't know what will come. It is possible that Vienna will also become a theater of war. ”However, Innitzer attributed the events of the war directly to God, he saw therein a punishment for the wrongdoing of the people. In addition, Innitzer expressed his regret about the low participation in church life: Children grow up without communion and confession, have no religious instruction in school, there are no more seminars, and only one sixth of Catholics attend Holy Mass. Such references can also be understood as indirect criticism of the National Socialist government, as its measures suppressed the influence of the Church.


In the American film Der Kardinal ( The Cardinal , 1963) Cardinal Innitzer was portrayed by Josef Meinrad .

In 1985 the Kardinal-Innitzer-Platz in Vienna- Döbling (19th district) was named after him.

The Cardinal Innitzer Prize has been awarded annually since 1962 .

Fonts (selection)

  • John the Baptist. Presented according to scripture and tradition. by Theodor Innitzer. Mayer, Vienna 1908.
  • Commentary on the gospel of salvation Luke excluding the story of suffering. (By Franz Xaver Pölzl. 2nd revised edition, especially by Theodor Innitzer.) Graz a. Vienna 1912.
  • Councilor Dr. Ms. X. Pölzl. Styria , Graz 1915.
  • Commentary on the Gospel of St. Mark excluding the Passion story. (Founded by Franz Xaver Pölzl. 3rd revised edition, esp. By Theodor Innitzer.) Graz a. Vienna 1916.
  • Concise Commentary on the Four Holy Gospels. (Founded by Franz Xaver Poelzl, continued by Theodor Innitzer. 4th verb. Edition) Graz 1928.
  • The religion of the earth in individual representations. (Together with Fritz Wilke.) Leipzig a. Vienna 1929.
  • The Holy Year and Peace. In: Hermann Hoffmann: The Church and Peace. 1933.
  • He is risen! Pictures by Josef von Führich. Statement by Theodor Innitzer. Bernina, Vienna 1949.
  • Letter of faith. Herder, Vienna 1939–40
  • What do we do ourselves? Cardinal Archbishop Theodor Innitzer u. Archbishop-Coadjutor Franz Jachym call for help f. young families. Catholic family work of the Archdiocese of Vienna, Vienna 1951.


Web links

Commons : Theodor Innitzer  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Register: [1]
  2. Prä Maßing, Carl: Faithful to the Emperor and the Land. 80 years of the Academic Association of Catholic-Austrian Landsmannschaften. Ed .: Gatscher-Riedl, Gregor. Self-published by K.Ö.L., Vienna 2013, p. 21st f .
  3. a b Vienna's street names since 1860 as “political places of remembrance” Final research project report, Vienna, July 2013 (PDF; 4.4 MB), pp. 133-134.
  4. In doing so, he consciously used the Deus-lo-vult call of the crusades and replaced the meaning with a thoroughly charitable one: Let's go on fraternal action together before it's too late! God wants it! Reichspost from Aug. 20, 1933, p. 1.
  5. Ukraine: Only Innitzer protested against the starvation of millions. In: . November 17, 2018, accessed December 11, 2018 .
  6. ^ Axel Hermann: Innitzer, Theodor Johann . In: Biographical dictionary on German history . Second volume, Francke, Munich 1974, ISBN 3-7720-1082-2 , column 1272.
  7. Uniform statement of the bishops of Austria on the election Poster published by Gauleiter Bürckel, 1938, ÖNB PLA16307154
  8. ^ Sermon on October 8, 1944, copied by NSDAP members. Quoted from Graf-Stuhlhofer: The Gau-Akt about Cardinal Theodor Innitzer. In: ÖGL 2011, pp. 153–156.
predecessor Office successor
Friedrich Gustav Cardinal Piffl Administrator of Eisenstadt
Joseph Schoiswohl
Friedrich Gustav Cardinal Piffl Archbishop of Vienna
Franz Cardinal König
Chairman of the Austrian Bishops' Conference
Andreas Rohracher