Saiko, Emanuel Georg Josef

George Saiko


5 February 1892 Seestadtl / Ervěnice, Bohemia – 23 December 1962 Preßbaum, Lower Austria

After Georg Saiko attended secondary school in Komotau (Chomutov) und Teplitz-Schönau (Teplice), he arrived in Vienna in 1910 and worked on the Österreichische Künstlerbibliographie (Austrian artist bibliography) published by the Denkmalamt (monuments authority) while studying art history, archaeology and psychology at the University of Vienna. He obtained his doctorate in 1925 under Julius Schlosser and Josef Strzygowski with a work on early Baroque palaces in Vienna. He was most active, however, as a writer, influenced by his close friends Franz Theodor Csokor, Robert Musil and Hermann Broch. In February 1939 he was recruited as a researcher by the Albertina at the personal request of State Secretary Kajetan Mühlmann in the place of Benno Fleischmann, who was retired on "racial" grounds. He curated the exhibition series Die unbekannte Albertina (The Unknown Albertina), which showed facsimiles, as the original items had been moved for storage because of the war. He was exempted from military service in autumn 1944, being deemed indispensable as head of the Albertina's art salvage depot. In this function he advocated the storage of objects in safes in the centre of Vienna. He was only partially successful in countering the instructions of the senior salvaging head of the Reichsstatthalterei, Ludwig Berg, and Fritz Dworschak, First Director of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, responsible for the storage depots, who were in favour of storing the works decentrally, in Gaming, Ernegg and Lauffen. As a result of this open conflict, Saiko accused both of them after the war of collaborating with the Nazis. From February 1945, Saiko and Heinrich Leporini were temporary directors of the Albertina until Saiko became sole director in May 1945, before being obliged to hand over the position to Josef Bick in the same month. After Saiko's employment had already been questioned in 1948 because of "limited success", Albertina director Otto Benesch called for his early dismissal in October 1950 on account of gross irregularities. He was in fact dismissed a short while later. Afterwards, Saiko worked as a private scholar and writer. Statements made after the war that the Nazis had banned him from writing cannot be verified. The same applies to his claimed membership of the O5 resistance movement. He was a member of the Reichsschrifttumskammer (Reich Literature Chamber) but the Vienna writers' section considered cancelling his membership on account of inactivity. In view of his many Jewish friends, it is conceivable that Saiko went into a form of "internal emigration" during the Nazi era, as has been stated on occasion in the research literature.

In 2013 the Art Restitution Advisory Board recommended the restitution of two watercolours by Josef Kriehuber to the legal successors of Josef Blauhorn. Saiko's long-standing partner Gabriele Gross (née Winter, 1895–1957) and her mother Mutter Luise Winter (née Angerer, 1870–1953) had sold them in 1943 to the Albertina and the "Führermuseum". It is no longer possible to determine how the two women came into possession of the works, but it is thought that Saiko had a brokering function. After Gabriele's death, he married the restorer Magdalena Junk (1916–2011) in 1958. She was the daughter of the painter and director of the Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt in Vienna, Rudolf Junk, and was hired in 1939 by the Albertina to replace Eva Benesch, who had been dismissed on "racial" grounds.

Author Info
Publications about the person / institution

Beschluss des Kunstrückgabebeirats, Auguste und Josef Blauhorn, 3.5.2013, URL: (3.12.2020).

Michael Hansel, George Saiko oder: Die Wirklichkeit hat doppelten Boden, Wien 2010.

Adolf Haslinger, George Saiko, Schriftsteller. Eine biographische Skizze, in: Adolf Haslinger (Hg.), George Saiko, Briefe, Salzburg-Wien 1992, 347–363.

Renate S. Posthofen, Treibgut. Das vergessene Werk George Saikos (= Literatur und Leben 46), Wien 1995.

Pia Schölnberger, Emil Geyer – Ein Sammler im Verborgenen, in: Eva Blimlinger/Heinz Schödl (Hg.), Die Praxis des Sammelns. Personen und Institutionen im Fokus der Provenienzforschung (= Schriftenreihe der Kommission für Provenienzforschung 5), Wien-Köln-Weimar 2014, 135–160, URL:

Pia Schölnberger, "Hier feiert der Luftschutz Orgien". Die Bergungsmaßnahmen der Graphischen Sammlung Albertina unter George Saiko, in: Pia Schölnberger/Sabine Loitfellner (Hg.), Bergung von Kulturgut im Nationalsozialismus. Mythen – Hintergründe – Auswirkungen (= Schriftenreihe der Kommission für Provenienzforschung 6), Wien-Köln-Weimar 2016, 129–148, URL:

Jürgen Serke, Böhmische Dörfer. Wanderungen durch eine verlassene literarische Landschaft, Wien-Hamburg 1987.

Josef Strelka (Hg.), George Saikos magischer Realismus. Zum Werk eines unbekannten grossen Autors. Bern-Frankfurt am Main 1990.

Herwig Würtz (Hg.), George Saiko. Zum 100. Geburtstag des Dichters. Ausstellung der Wiener Stadt- und Landesbibliothek im Palais Palffy Josefsplatz 6, 4. Februar bis 1. März 1992, Wien 1992.

Publications by the person / institution

Georg Saiko, Der frühbarocke Palastbau in Wien, Dissertation Universität Wien 1924.

Adolf Haslinger (Hg.), George Saiko. Briefe, Salzburg-Wien 1992.
Adolf Haslinger (Hg.), Georg Saiko. Sämtliche Werke, 5 Bände, Salzburg-Wien 1987–1992.


BArch Berlin, RKK, R9361V/33142.

BDA-Archiv, Restitutionsmaterialien, K. 36/3, PM Gabriele Gross.

ÖNB, Österreichisches Literaturarchiv, NL George Saiko.

OeStA/AdR, UWK, BMU, 15B1, PA George Saiko.

UAW, Rigorosenakt PH RA 5976.