Klein, Albert

Albert Klein


31 May 1873 Varsány, Hungary (now Hontvársany/Kalinčiakovo, Slovakia) – 1944?

Albert Klein was born in present-day Slovakia. He and his wife Szidonie were Jewish and lived at the latest from 1903 in Vienna, where Klein was a timber merchant. He states that he was so successful before the First World War that he was sometimes referred to as the "ash king of Austria". According to a 1928 memo from the Heeresmuseum (HM), he owned an art collection consisting of 200 works, but no further information is available in that regard. As a result of the First World War, the subsequent inflation and finally the world economic crisis, he lost practically all of his assets. In 1928 he offered the HM two paintings for sale, but they were rejected as they were copies of poor artistic quality.

In 1938 Klein stated that he had no cash and wanted to sell his last asset – a piece of land in Floridsdorf – so as to pay outstanding mortgages and loans. Although he had no income and, according to his own statement, was reliant on the Jewish community soup kitchen, he was still persecuted financially by the Nazi regime on account of his Jewish origins. The tax authorities imposed a "Jewish asset levy" of 20 per cent of his assets and on 12 January 1939 demanded a security deposit of 50,000 Reichsmarks in connection with the Reich flight tax and in view of his alleged intention to flee. The demands far exceeded Klein's financial means. In September 1939 Klein and his wife were forced to move out of their apartment at Starhemberggasse 40 in the 4th district, where they had lived since 1905, to an apartment on Franz-Josefs-Kai 19/11 in the 1st district. At the time of the move, Klein contacted the HM offering three oil paintings with military motifs. According to a memo of 20 September 1939, the Museum acquired them for 15 Reichsmarks. On 13 October 1939 Klein offered the Museum thirteen "patriotic badges" from the First World War, of which the HM acquired ten. In November 1941 Klein and his wife were forced to move to a collective apartment Im Werd 7/14 in the 2nd district. They fled to Budapest in March 1942 and then in 1944 to Kalinčiakovo (Hontvársany), at the time part of Hungary. They were deported from there and murdered some time in 1944. Of the couple's three children, the sons Franz and Alexander Klein managed to flee in good time to Great Britain. The daughter Gisela appears also to have managed to escape in November 1938 but nothing is known of her fate.

At the request of Franz and Alexander Klein the provincial court for civil law matters in Vienna established in 1951 that Albert and Szidonie Klein were not alive on 8 May 1945. While the badges are no longer in the collections of the Museum of Military History / Military History Institute and are deemed to have been lost during the war, on the basis of the Museum's provenance research, in 2010 the Art Restitution Advisory Board recommended the return of the three paintings acquired in 1939. After the heirs had been traced by the Vienna Jewish Community, the pictures were restituted in February 2013.

Author Info
Publications about the person / institution

Beiratsbeschluss Albert Klein, 26.11.2010, URL: provenienzforschung.gv.at/beiratsbeschluesse/Klein_Albert_2010-11-26.pdf (23.3.2022).

Index der Jüdischen Matriken Wien und NÖ, URL: www.genteam.at (23.3.2022).

Walter Kalina, Zwanzig Jahre Provenienzforschung im Heeresgeschichtlichen Museum/Militärhistorischen Institut (HGM/MHI) und der Fall Albert Klein, in: Eva Blimlinger/Heinz Schödl (Hg.), ... (k)ein Ende in Sicht. 20 Jahre Kunstrückgabegesetz in Österreich (= Schriftenreihe der Kommission für Provenienzforschung 8), Wien-Köln-Weimar 2018, 149–154, URL: doi.org/10.7767/9783205201274.149.

N. N., Lehmann's Allgemeiner Wohnungs-Anzeiger nebst Handels- und Gewerbe-Adreßbuch für die k. k. Reichs-Haupt- und Residenzstadt Wien nebst Floridsdorf und Jedlersdorf. Bd. 1903–1910, Wien 1903–1910. 

N. N., Wiener Adreßbuch. Lehmanns Wohnungsanzeiger, Bd. 1923–1940, Wien 1923–1940.


Archiv der IKG Wien, Fürsorgezentrale der IKG Wien/Auswanderungsabteilung, Auswanderungsfragebogen Nr. 11398, Gisela Klein.

HGM, DionReg, K. "COR 1928 Nr. 1 - 150", Exh. Nr. 123/1928.
HGM, DionReg, K. "COR 1939 Nr. 412 - 559", Exh. Nr. 452/1939. 

OeStA/AdR, E-uReang, VVSt, VA 32369, Albert Klein.

WStLA, BG Innere Stadt, 10 A 754/51, Verlassenschaft Albert Klein.
WStLA, Handelsgericht Wien, B74 E Register, E 38, 481, Albert Klein.
WStLA, Historische Wiener Meldeunterlagen, Meldeauskunft Albert Klein.