Obituary Hans Landauer

Hans Landauer has died at the age of 93 near Vienna. He was a close friend of the Dachau Memorial Site. We are deeply saddened by his passing and will remember him for his tireless effort in ensuring that the Austrians who fought in the Spanish Civil War be commemorated.

As Hans Landauer decided to join the fight against Franco’s troops, he was – at the age of just 16 – the youngest in the ranks of the International Brigades. By claiming to be three years older than he actually was, Landauer – under the assumed name of Hans Operschall - was able to see action on the front, serving as a messenger for the machinegun company of the Austrian battalion in the XI Brigade. Defeat in the Spanish Civil War forced him to flee to France where he was interned in the camps of Argelès, Saint-Cyprien, and Gurs as well as Toulon prison. In November 1940 he was finally arrested in Paris and taken to Vienna. On June 6, 1941 he was transferred to the Dachau concentration camp. He was 20.

He survived his ordeal thanks to the solidarity shown by his fellow comrades who had also fought in Spain. Landauer succeeded in being detailed to the porcelain manufacturer Allach located on the SS grounds in Dachau. By comparison, conditions there were relatively favorable and he was spared the worst of the excesses prevailing in the Dachau concentration camp. He remained in this work detail until liberation on April 29, 1945.

After returning to Austria Hans Landauer joined the police service, active at first in Austria before working as an embassy security official on Cyprus and in Lebanon. Soon after Franco’s death, he traveled to Spain and began to research the biographies of Austrians who had fought for the Republic in the Spanish Civil War. This initiative now became the central focus of his life. In 1983 he became an honorary staff member at the Dokumentationsarchiv Österreicher Widerstand (DÖW – Documentation Archive of Austrian Resistance) and compiled a vast collection of diverse source material on the participation of Austrians in the Spanish Civil War. He was also active for the association representing Austrian volunteers in the Spanish Republic from 1933 to 1939, which he would also head for a long time, as well as the KZ-Gemeinschaft Dachau, an association of former prisoners. Together with Erich Hackl he published Album Gurs. Ein Fundstück aus dem österreichischen Widerstand and in 2003 Lexikon der österreichischen Spanienkämpfer.

Hans Landauer was a frequent guest at the Memorial Site, giving talks on the resistance practiced in the camp and on the porcelain manufactory facilities, as well as researching in his specialist field of the Spanish Civil War fighters. We last saw him at the liberation celebrations in 2006. It is with great sorrow that we have now heard of his death following a long illness.

 

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