Victor Klemperer from Klemenau

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Victor Klemperer von Klemenau (born June 20, 1876 in Dresden , † March 13, 1943 in Bulawayo , Southern Rhodesia ) was a German banker .


His parents were Gustav (1852–1926) and Charlotte Klemperer geb. Engelmann (1857-1934). He grew up with the younger brothers Herbert (1878–1951) and Ralph-Leopold (1884–1956). The Jewish educated Victor converted to the Protestant faith in 1907 when he married Sophie Reichenheim (1888–1976). Since 1910 he was allowed to call himself Edler von Klemenau . Her marriage to Sophie had four children, namely Sophie Charlotte (1909-2004), Peter Ralph (1910-2000), Gustav Victor (1915-1997) and Elisabeth-Dorothea (1918-1977).

Following an educational trip to South East Europe and Konstantin Opel , he studied at the Universities of Halle (Saale) , Berlin and Freiburg law . In 1898 he received his doctorate in Halle on the subject of "The legal nature of participation certificates ". Victor Klemperer did his voluntary military service in 1899 in a field cannon regiment in Prague. Together with his father Gustav, he was one of the most important representatives of the Dresdner Bank , founded in November 1872 , where he began his training in 1898. After working from 1899 at Bankhaus Alfred Kessler & Co. in New York City , he joined in 1902 as authorized in the Ludwig Loewe & Co. AG in Berlin. In January 1904 he returned to Dresdner Bank and joined the Berlin branch as an authorized signatory. In 1908 he moved to the Leipzig branch, where he was instrumental in founding; In 1909 he took over its management. In January 1914 he took over the management of the bank's Dresdner parent company, which was responsible for Saxony and had been run by his father until then. Interrupted by military service (1914 to 1918 as captain for Austria, awarded four medals), he held this function until May 31, 1934 and was thus responsible for all of the company's decisions relating to the Saxon-Central German region. He made great contributions to the expansion of Dresdner Bank, which had its largest branch network in the Free State of Saxony . The TH Dresden awarded him the title of honorary senator in 1929.

Because of his Jewish origins, Klemperer was denounced by the National Socialists after they came to power , then forcibly retired in June 1934. When in June 1938 he was forbidden to perform functions in committees, he fled Germany with his wife and received asylum in Southern Rhodesia , where his brother Ralph had been since May 1937. Victor Klemperer's wife Sophia traveled back to Germany in October 1938 to sell the former family villa. She returned to Bulawayo in November 1938 .

Art collection

His exquisite art collection, which consisted of porcelain, paintings, sculptures and books, was confiscated after his emigration in 1938. The collection seemed to have such a status that it was claimed for the planned “Führer Museum” in Linz . On November 17, 1942, Hitler personally ordered the transfer to the state of Saxony. As a result, 13 manuscripts , 549 incunabula and 510 bibliophile prints came to the Saxon State Library before the end of the war . After May 1945, only 12 incunabula returned from the alternative camps. With the partial return of library holdings from the Soviet Union in 1958, the holdings of the deposit increased to 295 works, which were handed over to the heirs in 1991.

On June 17, 2011, a committee set up by the Belgian city of Ghent rejected the restitution claims of the Klemperer heirs for the return of a portrait of Ludwig Adler by Oskar Kokoschka (1913). During a Kokoschka exhibition in Vienna between May and June 1937, it was exhibited under the owner Victor Klemperer, who sold it to Herbert E. Kurz, Chemnitz, in 1938. After several changes of ownership, it was acquired by the Ghent Museum voor Schone Kunsten in 1987 , where it has been exhibited ever since.


  • Victor Klemperer: The legal nature of profit participation certificates. Dissertation, Halle-Wittenberg 1898
  • Erich von Rath , Konrad Haebler : early prints from the library Victor von Klemperer. Dresden 1927.


  • Klemperer, Victor Edler von Klemenau , in: Joseph Walk (ed.): Short biographies on the history of the Jews 1918–1945 . Munich: Saur, 1988, ISBN 3-598-10477-4 , p. 197

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Andreas Graul: Klemperer, Victor, Edler von Klemenau. In: Saxon Biography , ed. from the Institute for Saxon History and Folklore e. V., edited by Martina Schattkowsky, January 16, 2006, accessed April 30, 2014
  2. ^ Regine Dehnel (ed.): Jewish book possession as looted property. Vittorio Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 3-465-03448-1 , p. 358 (digitized version)