Anton Steinbrunner

(Altweitra near Gmünd 1892 – Vienna 1953): Abnormal

Homosexual prisoner at Auschwitz

In June 1938 Anton Steinbrunner, born on 16 May 1892, was 46 years old. He lived in a flat on Bandgasse in Vienna’s 7th District and worked as a coffee maker at the Café de l’Europe on Graben in the 1st District. His background was that of a peasant farmer and had learnt the coffee roasting trade in Vienna before being posted to the Italian front in the First World War. After his return from captivity as a POW, he joined the Vienna Security Guard, but lost this job after a short time, after being put on trial for “unnatural fornication” in 1924. He was handed down a six-week suspended sentence. Two years earlier he had married Anna Kallab, and their daughter Gertrude was born from their short marriage. The divorce also took place in 1924.

In early April 1938, Anton Steinbrunner paid a visit to the Weinhalle Eiermann, where he often had his evening meal. He met a round of SS members for the first time and met up with them again a short time later. They sat at a table, drank wine and talked politics. Steinbrunner showed himself to be an ardent Nazi. Also among the convivial group was 20-year-old Heinz Wurzel from Weimar, an SS man with the division “Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler”, which had been stationed in Vienna since March 1938. Steinbrunner invited Wurzel to come to his home.

The next day, 8 April 1938, the SS man Wurzel reported to the Gestapo that he had been a victim of the crime of “unnatural fornication”. He had fallen asleep in Steinbrunner’s flat, heavily intoxicated. After waking up, he noticed that his trousers were open and that he had ejaculated. Anton Steinbrunner, who was immediately arrested, confessed but insisted that Wurzel had been very much conscious and that the sexual activity had been consensual. He was not believed.

On 14 October 1938 Anton Steinbrunner was sentenced to four months of hard labour, compounded by a day of fasting every month. His homosexual disposition and his sexual arousal at the time of the crime were cited as mitigating factors. On 8 August 1938, the Gestapo filed to have Steinbrunner returned to them for further disposal after serving his sentence.

Upon his release, Steinbrunner was sent to Dachau concentration camp. From there he was deported to Mauthausen concentration camp, where he had to work in the quarry. In early December 1944, together with 1,120 other prisoners, he was transported to Auschwitz as a skilled worker, but he was only imprisoned there for a short time. He survived the transport to Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp where he was liberated. Anton Steinbrunner passed away in his flat in Vienna on 18 December 1953.

Literature and sources

Criminal file of the proceedings against Anton Steinbrunner, Municipal and Provincial Archives of Vienna, Strafsachen LG I, Vr 4794/38 (= QWIEN Archive, WLGI_4794_38).