Radomir Luza Prize 2022

The American Friends of the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance/Vienna, supported by Center Austria: The Marshall Plan Center for European Studies at the University of New Orleans, are pleased to announce the annual Radomir Luza Prize for an outstanding work in the field of Austrian and/or Czechoslovak History in the 20th Century.  This prize carries a cash award of $1000.00 and seeks to encourage research in the abovementioned fields focusing on the fields Professor Radomír Luža worked in.

To be eligible for the 2021 Radomir Luza Prize competition, the book or dissertation must have been published (or a dissertation defended) between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021.  Authors must be citizens or resident aliens (holders of “green cards”) of the United States or Canada.  Dissertations must have been awarded by a North American University.  The language of the work must be English.

To be considered for the Radomir Luza Prize competition, please send a copy of your work electronically to: winfried.garscha@doew.at

The deadline for submissions is August 15, 2022. 

The winner will be announced at the GSA convention to be held in Houston, Tx, from September 15 until 18 2022 at the Hilton Americas Hotel in Houston, Texas.

Radomir Luza Prize 2021


The American Friends of the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance/Vienna, supported by Center Austria: The Marshall Plan Center for European Studies at the University of New Orleans, are pleased to announce the Ninth annual Radomir Luza Prize for an outstanding work in the field of Austrian and/or Czechoslovak History in the 20th Century.  This prize carries a cash award of $1000.00 and seeks to encourage research in the abovementioned fields focusing on the fields Professor Radomír Luža worked in.

To be eligible for the 2021 Radomir Luza Prize competition, the book or dissertation must have been published (or a dissertation defended) between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.  Authors must be citizens or resident aliens (holders of “green cards”) of the United States or Canada.  Dissertations must have been awarded by a North American University.  The language of the work must be English.

To be considered for the Radomir Luza Prize competition, please send a copy of your work electronically to:  gjbischo@uno.edu and winfried.garscha@doew.at

The deadline for submissions is August 15, 2021. 

The winner will be announced at the GSA convention to be held in Indianapolis from 30 September to 3 October 2021 at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown in Indianapolis, Indiana.



A True Friend of the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance: Franz S. Leichter turns 90

An American with an extraordinarily long-standing relationship with the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance turns 90 on August 19, 2020: Franz S. Leichter, the younger son of Käthe Leichter (1895—1942), outstanding Austrian economist, women’s rights activist, and resistance-fighter.

After the short civil war of February 1934, Käthe Leichter and her husband, the social-democratic journalist Otto Leichter, fled to Zurich together with their two sons, Heinz and Franz, where they remained for several months. After the “Anschluss” of March 1938 the Nazis tried to arrest Otto Leichter, but he managed to escape to Czechoslovakia under a false passport. Käthe Leichter and her two sons applied for legal emigration. However, she was arrested by the Gestapo on May 30, 1938. Friends of the family looked after her children. Otto Leichter, who meanwhile had fled to Paris, made every effort to rescue his sons. A maid and good friend of the family accepted the risk of traveling abroad with Franz, posing as Franz’s mother.  Franz’s brother Heinz was able to leave the country with legal emigration papers. After the beginning of World War II, the French authorities arrested Otto Leichter as an “enemy alien.” The kids had to stay in homes for children—Franz in the south, Heinz near Paris. After three months their father was released and he and the boys were reunited, albeit without their mother­, who was deported to Ravensbrück, the Nazi concentration camp for women, in January 1940. When the German Wehrmacht overran France in May 1940, they fled Paris together with hundreds of thousands of French nationals and refugees from Germany and Austria. After some weeks in Montauban, they left France with a forged exit certificate, traveled across Spain to Lisbon, and took a Greek steamer to the United States. In late September the ship landed in Hoboken, NJ. Muriel Gardiner, one of the greatest rescuers of Austrian refugees in the US, helped the two sons gain admission to a boarding school in Connecticut.

In May 1942, Franz and Heinz learned about the death of their mother. The Gestapo had issued a notification that she had died because of circulatory disturbance in Ravensbrück; actually, she had been gassed in the euthanasia killing center of Bernburg.

After 1945

Otto Leichter tried to return home to Vienna, but after two years he moved back to the US, where he died in 1973. Heinz (Henry) and Franz became attorneys-at-law. In the 1960s Franz entered politics and joined the Democratic Party. When, after six years in the Assembly and 24 years in the Senate, he withdrew from the New York State legislature in 1998, the “Times” characterized him “as something of a maverick in Albany—one who would as willingly attack Democratic governors as he would Republican ones. A loud critic of state tax subsidies to businesses, Mr. Leichter has also railed against the state’s campaign finance laws, which he considers lax. As a liberal Democrat in a Republican-controlled Senate, Mr. Leichter said he viewed his job as ‘raising issues and making noise.’” (New York Times, April 21, 1998)

Whenever Franz travels to Vienna, he visits the family grave at the Zentralfriedhof. An urn next to the tombstone contains soil from Ravensbrück. For several months a leaflet has hung from that urn, bearing a poem written by Käthe Leichter in the concentration camp in late 1941 or early 1942. In the first lines of this poem she is talking about her troubled sleep and a dream about her two sons:

I was with my children. Covered both and told them: “Mum comes soon, be good and don’t cry”.
We sat still, my husband and I, for not waking the children.
Suddenly I started up from my sleep, saw the moonlight on the iron bedstead,
Me lying there, among so many and yet so lonely and cold:
Me in Ravensbrück, you in Sachsenhausen, in Dachau or Buchenwald…

The founder of the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance, Herbert Steiner, published a comprehensive biography of Käthe Leichter in 1973. A short biography of Käthe Leichter by DÖW-librarian Herbert Exenberger can be found on the website of the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance (https://www.doew.at/erinnern/biographien/spurensuche/kaethe-leichter-1895-1942).

Franz S. Leichter in his New York home, October 2019
The Leichter family in Zurich (Uetliberg), June 1934. From left: Heinz (Henry), Otto, Käthe, Franz (DÖW-Foto 1297_1)
Vienna Zentralfriedhof / Urnenhain: Leichter family grave. Right to the tombstone: An urn with soil from Ravensbrück and Käthe Leichter’s poem written in the concentration camp

Radomir Luza Prize 2020

The American Friends of the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance/Vienna, supported by Center Austria: The Marshall Plan Center for European Studies at the University of New Orleans, are pleased to announce the Eight annual Radomir Luza Prize for an outstanding work in the field of Austrian and/or Czechoslovak History in the 20th Century.  This prize carries a cash award of $1000.00 and seeks to encourage research in the abovementioned fields focusing on the fields Professor Radomír Luža worked in.

To be eligible for the 2020 Radomir Luza Prize competition, the book or dissertation must have been published (or a dissertation defended) between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2019.  Authors must be citizens or resident aliens (holders of “green cards”) of the United States or Canada.  Dissertations must have been awarded by a North American University.  The language of the work must be English.

To be considered for the Radomir Luza Prize competition, please send a copy of your work electronically to:  gjbischo@uno.edu and winfried.garscha@doew.at

The deadline for submissions is August 15, 2020.  The winner will be announced at the online GSA convention in 2020.

Annual Meeting 2019 of the Association

The Annual Meeting 2019 of the American Friends of the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance took place on October 5th, 2019, from 6:00 to 7:00 pm at the Hilton Portland Downtown (venue of the Forty-Third Annual Conference of the German Studies Association)

Winfried Garscha reported about the DÖW’s activities over the previous last 12 months. These included five publications:
a) the bilingual catalogue entitled “The War against the ‘Inferior’ / On the History of Nazi Medicine in Vienna” ed. by Herwig Czech, Wolfgang Neugebauer, and Peter Schwarz accompanying the exhibition on the Steinhof Memorial at the City of Vienna’s Otto Wagner Hospital (cf. https://www.doew.at/erforschen/publikationen/gesamtverzeichnis/kataloge/der-krieg-gegen-die-minderwertigen-the-war-against-the-inferior);
b) the documentation “Widerstand und Verfolgung in der Steiermark: ArbeiterInnenbewegung und PartisanInnen 1938–1945” ed. by Elisabeth Holzinger, Manfred Mugrauer, and Wolfgang Neugebauer (cf. https://www.doew.at/erforschen/publikationen/gesamtverzeichnis/widerstand-und-verfolgung-widerstandsforschung/widerstand-und-verfolgung-in-der-steiermark);
c) “Flucht und Zuflucht Erinnerungen an eine bewegte Jugend” by Josef Eisinger (cf. https://www.doew.at/erforschen/publikationen/gesamtverzeichnis/exil/flucht-und-zuflucht);
d) “dachaureif”, a biographical documentation by Claudia Kuretsidis-Haider and Rudolf Leo treating the first transport of prisoners from Vienna to the Dachau concentration camp on April 1, 1938,  (cf. https://www.doew.at/erforschen/publikationen/gesamtverzeichnis/widerstand-und-verfolgung-widerstandsforschung/dachaureif); the topic of this book is also the subject of a temporary exhibition at the Old City Hall of Vienna (until January 7, 2020);
e) the 2019 yearbook, dedicated to the research into Maly Trostenets near Minsk, killing site for almost 10,000 Austrian Jews (cf. https://www.doew.at/erforschen/publikationen/gesamtverzeichnis/jahrbuch/jahrbuch-2019-deportation-und-vernichtung-maly-trostinec).
Among the numerous lectures, workshops and conferences either held on the DÖW’s premises or organized in cooperation with the DÖW he mentioned the common symposium with the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington in June 2019, “Fleeing the Nazis: Austrian Jewish Refugees to the United States” (cf. http://www.austrianresistance.org/?p=407), and the symposion “Nisko 1939” that addresses the first mass deportation of Jews from Vienna to the East (October 1939) in September 2019 (cf. https://www.doew.at/termine/veranstaltungsarchiv/nisko-1939-erste-massendeportation-aus-wien-deportation-und-vernichtung-maly-trostinec).
Garscha also mentioned the common exhibition with the Norwegien Center for Holocaust and Minorities Studies at the UN Headquarters in New York (cf. http://www.austrianresistance.org/?p=399). This exhibition traveled subsequently to the Austrian Embassy in Washington (cf. https://www.austria.org/the-latest/2019/4/5/ruth-maier-exhibition-opening-reception), where Ann M. Altman (a member of Ruth Maier’s family) delivered a moving speech at the opening ceremony.

Other topics of the annual meeting included: the state of the association with respect to members, finances and the development of this website.
Because this year there were no eligible applications for the Radomir-Luza-Prize, Board members decided to change the requirements: it will be awarded for an outstanding work released during the previous year not only in the field of Austrian and/or Czechoslovak World War II studies, but in future will also include the much broader scope of Austrian and/or Czechoslovak history between 1918-1989. The other stipulations still apply: To be eligible for consideration in the Radomir Luza Prize competition, the book must have been published, or the dissertation defended, between January 1st and December 31st of the year prior to the announcement. Authors must be citizens or resident aliens (holders of “green cards”) of the United States or Canada. Dissertations must have been awarded by a North American University. The language of the work must be English.

No elections were necessary for President, Vice President and Immediate Past President, the Luza Prize Committee or for the Secretary/Treasurer.
However, three departing members were replaced by three new members for the period 2019 through 2022. Those present expressed their sincere thanks to those who had served as board members for the years 2016-2019: Robert von DASSANOWSKY, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Lisa D. SILVERMAN, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, and Felix TWERASER, University of West Georgia. They were replaced by:
Marc LANDRY, University of New Orleans,
Helga SCHRECKENBERGER, University of Vermont, and
Jacqueline VANSANT, University of Michigan-Dearborn.
Complete information about the board is available here.

Among “any other business” the topic “recent developments with regard to the Gusen concentration camp memorial” (near Mauthausen) was raised. Winfried Garscha informed those present about the information letter from the Mauthausen Memorial to the members of the International Advisory Board concerning the speculative character of a German documentary, broadcast by ZDF, and about the efforts of the Memorial to clarify the questions raised in this documentary.

Those present gave thanks to the director of the Austrian Cultural Forum New York for continuous logistical support of the Association’s activities and invited the members to pay their annual dues.

Last Call: Radomir Luza Prize 2019

The American Friends of the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance and Center Austria: the Austrian Marshall Plan Center for European Studies of the University of New Orleans are pleased to announce this year’s Radomir Luza Prize. The prize has been awarded since 2012 for an outstanding work in the field of Austrian and/or Czecho-Slovak studies before, during and immediately after the Nazi rule in Central Europe, particularly in the fields of diplomatic history, resistance and World War II studies. Since 2017 the prize is being bestowed by the German Studies Association (GSA). This prize carries a cash award of $1,000.00 financed by the Zukunftsfonds der Republik Österreich. It seeks to encourage research in the abovementioned fields focusing on the time period of the 1930s and 1940s.

The prize is named after Radomír Luža, born 1922 in Prague, ČSR, deceased 2009 in Philadelphia, PA. Luža was a resistance fighter against Nazi dictatorship in occupied Czechoslovakia 1939-1945, US historian and author of the first comprehensive history of resistance in Austria 1938-1945. From 1967 through 1993 Radomír Luža was professor for European and German history at Tulane University. For more biographical data cf. Radomír Luža: Biography.

Eligibility for the Luza Prize 2019:

Books or dissertations which have been published (or a dissertation defended) between January 1 and December 31, 2018. Authors must be citizens or resident aliens (holders of “green cards”) of the United States or Canada. Dissertations must have been awarded by a North American University. The language of the work must be English.

To be considered for the Radomir Luza Prize competition, please send a copy of your work electronically to gjbischo@uno.edu and winfried.garscha@doew.at. The deadline for submissions (August 27) is being extended by one week to September 3, 2019. The winner will be noticed in mid-September and announced publicly at the GSA annual conference banquet on Friday, October 4, 2019, in Portland/Oregon.

Fleeing the Nazis: Austrian Jewish Refugees to the United States

A unique one-day symposium devoted specifically to the experience of Austrian Jewry during the Holocaust took place at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. on June 18, 2019.  Over fifteen experts contributed their research findings on the Austrian Jewish experiences of persecution and forced emigration under the Nazis. Many placed particular emphasis on those refugees who fled to the United States. Over two hundred participants assembled at 10:30am in the Helena Rubenstein Theater for the start of this program which lasted until 6:30pm. The rare international audience included historians, scholars, distinguished guests, museum staff and visitors; but most predominately a number of Austrian Jews who witnessed the atrocities discussed.

Following brief welcome remarks by Elizabeth Anthony of the USHMM, organizer of the event, the audience was greeted by Thorsten Eisenreich, Director of Press and Information from the Austrian Embassy in Washington D.C., and Gerhard Baumgartner of the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance. The impressive presentations varied in both style, format, and content; historians shared their current research, museum staff presented archival materials and rare artifact collections, and specialists from the film and photo archives at the USHMM revealed new footage of Austrian Jewish refugees in the United States. One of the most moving sessions was a live interview with Herta Griffel Baitsch conducted by Anatol Steck. Herta left Vienna on a Kindertransport in 1940 at the young age of seven. Accompanying their intimate conversation, visuals of museum artifacts illuminated on the screen in the background.  Drawings, letters, and artifacts discovered by the USHMM and presented to Herta in her later life, helped her to repair her memory and piece together her history for future generations.

In the Closing Roundtable, Refugee Studies and Holocaust Studies, Historian Deborah Dwork of Clark University poignantly noted, “fleeing does not write refugees out of the story; it simply takes the story elsewhere. Indeed, flight takes it everywhere.” She emphasized the necessity of integrating the Austrian Jewish refugee experience and other refugee experiences into Holocaust History.

The symposium was made possible by the support of Edie and David Blitzstein, in memory of Kurt and Thea Sonnenmark.  To learn more about the program and for a full listing of the speakers and their topics of expertise, click here.  The full event was filmed by the USHMM and is available for viewing on the Meuseum’s YouTube channel

Author: Ilana Offenberger, College of Arts & Sciences, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, president of the association “American Friends of the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance”

DÖW & HL-senteret exhibition at the UN Headquarters New York

Lives Cut Short – Seeking Refuge During the Holocaust: The Short Life of Ruth Maier

The Dokumentation Center of Austrian Resistance (DÖW) and the Norwegien Center for Holocaust and Minorities Studies (HL-senteret), together with the Austrian and Norwegian Permanent Missions at the UN prepared an exhibition about the Holocaust victim Ruth Maier, which was opened on 29 January 2019 at the Visitors Center of the UN HQ New York and can be seen there until 26 February 2019.

UN press release

Credits: George-Wilhelm Gallhofer

Entry on the DÖW web-site – with further reading

Norwegian movie by Elsa Kvamme (pilot video clip) – in English

2018 Radomir Luza Prize for David W. Gerlach

The 2018 Radomir Luza Prize was awarded to David W. Gerlach, Saint Peter’s University (Jersey City, NJ) for his book The Economy of Ethnic Cleansing. The Transformation of the German-Czech Borderlands after World War II (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

This year’s Radomir Luza Price for an outstanding work in the field of Austrian and/or Czechoslovak World War II studies, particularly in the fields of diplomatic history, resistance and war studies was awarded during the forty-second annual conference of the German Studies Association (GSA) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 2018. It was the second time that the awarding of the prize took place in the course of the Association’s banquet on Friday evening, 28 September 2018. In previous years the awarding of the Radomir Luza Prize had been part of the “Austrian Reception”, given by the director of  the Austrian Cultural Forum New York during the annual GSA conference; the prize itself had been provided by the Center Austria: The Austrian Marshall Plan Center for European Studies at the University of New Orleans (Radomír Luža had been professor for European and German history in New Orleans, from 1967 through 1993, at Tulane University).
Since 2017 the American Friends of the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance have been able to double the annual prize money. This was made possible by a generous grant by the Future Fund of the Republic of Austria. With the help of Gerald Fetz (Secretary-Treasurer of the GSA), the Luza Prize has been moved to the German Studies Association, which is taking care for the assessment of the granted money.
Because the prize winner of this year could not show up personally, the formal  presentation of the prize by representatives of the American Friends of the DÖW was replaced by an announcement during the banquet. The GSA representative, who moderated the banquet, payed tribute to the organizers of the prize read a summary of the statement of the jury:

Gerlach’s study about the expulsion of the “Sudeten Germans” from Czechoslovakia after the World War II deals with a still controversial chapter of modern Central European history. An independent academic view from British or American researchers was missing. David W. Gerlach’s book is filling this gap. Offering a unique contribution to the growing literature on ethnic violence, it explains the situation in border regions in valuable case studies and examines the “ethnic cleansing” in Czechoslovakia in a wider Central European framework. We learn that “ethnic cleansing was not only about ethnicity.”  Also “migration and property transfers” propelled the ethnic transformation of the Sudetenland. Gerlach reveals how Czechs struggled amongst themselves over property and administrative control, as most designated as Germans underwent expulsion. Gerlach also explores how ethnic cleansing ended, how one of the most highly industrialized regions in Europe floundered and, finally, how the scars of the expulsion resonate up until today. 

Right: Cover of David W. Gerlach’s book

INVITATION TO THE ANNUAL MEETING 2018

To the members and all those interested in the association and the DÖW

SATURDAY, 29 SEPTEMBER 2018, 6:15 PM

The annual meeting 2018 takes place at Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown in the room PM Rivers (close to the Grand Ballrooms)

Agenda

Opening remarks by Gerhard Baumgartner, DÖW director

Report on activities of the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance since October 2017 by Friedl Garscha, DÖW senior historian

Report on the association’s development since October 2017 by Michael S. Bryant, secretary/treasurer (including announcement about this year’s winner of the Radomir Luza Prize)

Questions and answers

Elections (president, vice president, board members)

 

After the meeting of the “American Friends of the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance” we will move to the room King’s Garden 5, where the Austrian Reception, given by the Austrian Cultural Forum New York, will start at 7:30 PM