Eva Grubinger

Hedgehog


Opening: 2015

This sculpture at the former Igel (Hedgehog), the fabled retreat used by Austrian oppositionists from 1944 to 1945, directs the gaze towards the Sandling mountain, which contains the salt mines where artworks looted by the Nazis were stored. Among the works they seized was a substantial portion of the collection of Oscar Bondy: the round, bristly form of the sculpture is derived from a similarly designed but smaller wooden object that he once owned. Eva Grubinger also created a second edition as part of the project Political Landscape which is located in the spa park of Altaussee. This property, owned by a distant relative of Bondy, was "Aryanized" in 1938 and restituted after the war. 

 




In the valley:
 

Today’s Kur- und Amtshaus is situated in the former Auspitz Villa, that was built in 1884. The important Jewish Auspitz family originally came from Moravia in the modern-day Czech Republic and came to wealth in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Banker and sugar manufacturer Rudolf Auspitz took over the newly built summer residence in Altaussee in 1886. The park-like garden with a greenhouse was created shortly after. The Nazis seized the entire property in 1938. Rudolf’s son Stefan Auspitz, bank partner and owner of the house at that time, was deported to Theresienstadt and later to Dachau concentration camp and lived only a few months after being liberated.

Rudolf Auspitz was a distant relation by marriage of Oscar Bondy, who owned sugar factories in Bohemia/Czechoslovakia and also lived in Vienna. Bondy managed to escape persecution immediately after the “Anschluss” of Austria by the Third Reich in 1938 and died in New York in 1944. His assets and extensive art collection were “Aryanized.” The most valuable objects and paintings were kept in the central storerooms of Vienna’s Museum of Art History, from where they were finally stored in the Ausseer Salzberg as part of the looted art. Restitution of the Auspitz Villa was made after the end of the war. The municipality purchased the building in 1966, converting it into a “Kurhaus,” or spa house, with gardens in 1969. The building was completely refurbished as a “Kur- und Amtshaus” in 1992.

On the mountains:

The communists Sepp Plieseis, Alois Straubinger and Karl Gitzoller founded the underground group Willy-Fred in November 1943, after escaping from the Dachau subcamp in Hallein (Plieseis) and from the police prison in Wels (Straubinger), with the aim of building a resistance movement in the Ausseerland. Among the members were Resi Pesendorfer, Zilli Langeder and Maria Ganör. Living outside of the law was extremely dangerous despite support from the women and other accomplices.

In spring 1944 they withdrew to an altitude of 1280m in the western part of the Tote Gebirge, a relatively inaccessible area even today. The women stayed in the valley. Hans Mittendorfer, the son of the forest warden, joined them. They broke his foot so that he would not be sent to war and could stay with them. His father pointed out this location, and kept this information a secret. The place was called Igel (Hedgehog) because the animal had appeared while they were building the hide-out. Freshly felled tree trunks and bark offered makeshift protection from the wet and also served as camouflage. There was a fire, a radio, a few books, and even a glass window. Over time, the group grew to about fifteen or twenty. They were victims of persecution, deserters and religious people like Karl Feldhammer, with the common political goal of restoring a free Austria despite all their ideological differences. They were armed for defense and for poaching and also had some explosives. Visiting his house in Altaussee one night, that was being watched, Karl Feldhammer was shot by the Gestapo while trying to escape on 26 January 1945.

“Our political work was primarily and untiringly to educate the population. We lacked the technical equipment for educational work in writing. We never engaged in any military actions against our opponents as a group. We constantly informed ourselves about the course of the war and the international situation. We listened to English and Russian radio stations in German.” (Alois Straubinger, in: Rolinek 2005, 108 f.) The “Verein Widerstandsmuseum” installed a commemorative plaque near the former Igel in June 1994.



More info on the sculpture and the hike: www.politische-landschaft.at

 

Art in Public Space

Marienplatz 1/1
8020 Graz, Österreich
T +43-316/8017-9265
kioer@museum-joanneum.at

 


Locations:

Spa Park (Kurpark), 8992 Altaussee
47°38'27.7"N 13°45'54.7"E

former Igel hideout, on the south slopes of the Hinterer Raucher (1735 m)
47°41'08.1"N 13°45'22.3"E