No One Is Responsible.


In Defense of the Notorious Polsterer Family, the City Government of Vienna, and the Inheritance of Plunder

by Warren Rosenzweig and the Jewish Theater of Austria
(from a short film produced on the site of the stolen Nestroyhof Jewish theater in 2004 that shows a detail from the protected swastika collection of the Polsterers)

Happy are they who have suppressed
What may no longer be redressed.
Ting-a-ling, sing, sing, sing,
Drink with me, sing with me,
La la la, la la la, etc., etc.,
Sing, sing, sing, drink with me,
Sing, sing, sing!*

"In all fairness to the current landlords, they aren’t Jewish, they’re just landlords. Why should they be concerned about Austrian Jewish heritage? They’re the wealthy offspring of parents whose sole interest in Jewish life and culture was in how much they could profit by its destruction. Their sole interest is in how much they can continue to profit today.

It’s not their fault that their parents were plunderers. They’re but the inheritors of plundered property and culture. Their parents cooperated with the Nazis and bequeathed to them the bounty of their moral crimes. The Second Republic of Austria then saw to it that they would not be required to return the stolen treasures.

So who is to be held accountable for the difficult situation the current landlords now find themselves in? For them, making money on stolen property is a family business. They’re used to it. No one has ever intervened. Why should they help us with our intervention in their long-standing family business?

They’re not responsible for the destruction that took place here in the 30s and 40s. Not responsible for the destruction of their post-war supermarket tenants. Not responsible for the condition of the Nestroyhof today. They’re not responsible.

The people who are now responsible are those whose primary concern is with the immediate and long-term future of this landmark of Jewish art and intercultural living. The government is also responsible to protect this site from further destruction and misuse. Now, in the 21st Century, perhaps the government will finally come around…"


*Inspired by a song from the quintessential Viennese operetta “Die Fledermaus” (1874) of Johann Strauss II and 20th century history: “Gluecklich ist, wer vergisst, was nicht mehr zu aendern ist. [lebhafte Heiterkeit]” (“Happy is one who forgets what can no longer be undone. [jubilant cheer]”) – Joseph Buerckel, NSDAP Gauleiter (District Chief) of Vienna and Reichstatthalter (Governor) of Austria. The quote is from his speech at the Vienna Concert House on March 24, 1938. Buerckel was notorious for his efficiency in the mass deportation of the Viennese Jewish population and for the seizing of their property, which peaked in 1940 at around the time that Anna Stein, the owner of the Nestroyhof, disappeared from Vienna and the Polsterer family, who still own the property today, took possession.

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