Arnold Schwarzenegger’s father in sight


When Austria joined the German Empire in 1938, the police formed an essential part of the National Socialist terror regime. The officials were significantly involved in war crimes and the Holocaust. How exactly this worked was a mystery for a long time. Now the police archives have been opened – for the first time providing a comprehensive insight into how the executive branch works. Particularly explosive: the father of Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger also appears in it.

“It’s a dark subject. So when we talk about the Austrian police during National Socialism, we are dealing with a particularly dark chapter in contemporary Austrian history,” says editor and contemporary historian Barbara Stelzl-Marx of the University of Graz and head of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Research. about the consequences of war.

The police were responsible for arrests and war crimes from the beginning. Of course there is the whole spectrum: perpetrators and followers, but also victims and resistance fighters. Central here is personal freedom of action – something that could also be important today and for the training of police students.

How people behaved in this extreme situation of violence has now been described in the book ‘Executive Violence: The Austrian Police and National Socialism’. Almost fresh from the press, the work was solemnly presented at the Ministry of the Interior on Friday. Particularly exciting are the biographies in the ‘book of uncomfortable truths’, Stelzl-Marx explains.

The story of the father of Austrian Hollywood star and former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gustav Schwarzenegger, was also discussed. The reason for the investigation was a request from Arnold Schwarzenegger to the Simon Wiesenthal Center asking it to investigate his father’s military service.

As we now know, Gustav Schwarzenegger was admitted to the armed forces as a musician in 1930. In 1939 he accompanied the invasion of Poland as a constable. From 1941 he was involved in battles and securing territory during the campaign in the Soviet Union. However, because he was injured and contracted malaria, he was out of action relatively quickly. He was released and worked from 1944 until the end of the war with the rank of chief of police in Mürzzuschlag. After the war he denied that he was part of the NSDAP, which he joined in January 1941, according to the files. He was believed. That is why he remained “unencumbered” with the Federal Gendarmerie.

Austrian police officer executed in Moscow
The CV of Johann Scheiflinger, who has been employed by the Vienna police since 1938, is particularly eye-catching. In 1941 he came with a police regiment to Stryj in Galicia (Western Ukraine). When German troops withdrew in July 1944, he joined the Wehrmacht and was taken prisoner by the Soviets. In 1947 he returned to Austria and again worked as a gendarmerie in Carinthia. However, a short time later he was arrested – there were suspicions that he was involved in war crimes. As a result, he was extradited to the Soviet occupation forces, which initiated proceedings against him and other former police officers from Stryi. The indictment accused him of participating in murders as part of the campaign to make the area “Jew-free.” During mass shootings, he was part of the cordon that cordoned off the crime scene and shot those who escaped. The Soviet military tribunal in Baden near Vienna sentenced Scheiflinger to death. He was the only police officer executed in Moscow for the crimes in Stryi.

The role of the police in the Holocaust
Today we know that the police played a central role in upholding and enforcing Nazi rule. The basis of this ‘order’ was surveillance, oppression and terror.

Political ‘opponents’ or people classified as ‘criminal’ or ‘antisocial’ were imprisoned in the Mauthausen concentration camp, established in 1938, and its subcamps. The prisoners were forced to starve and do forced labor. The high-ranking officers of the “Political Department” stationed there are mostly criminal police officers. They kept records of the prisoners, interrogated them and determined who should go to the gas chamber or who would be shot in the neck.

“The police also took action when escapes from the camp took place,” explains co-editor Gregor Holzinger of the Mauthausen Memorial. The most famous was the mass escape of Russian prisoners of war in February 1945, which went down in history rather cynically as a ‘hare hunt’. Police teams from all over the area were involved and also took part in the other killings.

But there was also resistance among the police during the Nazi era, says co-editor Andreas Kranebitter of the Documentation Archive of the Resistance. He was all the more courageous because “he had to rebel against his own institutions, he had to rebel against his own colleagues. And he was also persecuted by his own colleagues.”

Source: Krone


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