Franz Sochor was born in 1902 and worked from 1919 as a bank clerk in the Niederösterreichische Escompte-Gesellschaft in Vienna. At the same time, he took various painting courses in his free time, for example with the academy painter H. Emsen or with Rudolf Bacher, professor at the Akademie der bildenden Künste in Wien (Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna). After losing his position at the Escompte-Gesellschaft in 1934 following its merger with the Creditanstalt, he attended restoration courses in summer 1934 with Robert Eigenberger, head of the Meisterschule für Konservierung und Technologie (Master School of Conservation and Technology) at the Academy in Vienna. In 1936 he became a self-employed restorer. He does not appear to have applied for membership or been a member of the NSDAP. The existing documents do not contain any clear information about his politics. In late autumn 1940 he began to work for the "Sonderauftrag Linz", and in May the Picture Gallery of the Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM) in Vienna hired him as a restorer, where he worked under a special contract until obtaining a regular employment contract in 1954. According to research published in 2008 by the historian Morwenna Blewett, Sochor was involved in the looting of art and cultural objects by the Nazi regime in Poland, where he worked on occasion for Kajetan Mühlmann, like the Viennese restorers Ingeborg Spann and Eduard Kneisel. Like Josef Hajsinek, his colleague in the Picture Gallery restoration workshop in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Sochor worked at several Austrian depots, including Gaming. From May 1942 to November 1944 he stayed on several occasions at the dissolved Kremsmünster Benedictine monastery, cataloguing and preserving artworks from the Zentraldepot für beschlagnahmte Sammlungen (Central Depot for Seized Collections) in Vienna. When the Reichskunstdepot became unsafe as a storage site because of the threat of air raids, the contents were moved to the Altaussee saltmine. From December 1944 Sochor worked at the Lauffen saltmine near Bad Ischl, ensuring – once again with Hajsinek – that the artworks from state collections were properly stored. On 3 May 1945 pictures, tapestries and crates with objects from the Kunsthistorisches Museum sculpture collection in Lauffen were loaded onto two military trucks and transported westward, including all the pictures by Rembrandt, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Titian and Velazquez. The order by Reichskulturreferent Hermann Stuppäck to store the objects came directly from Reichsleiter Baldur von Schirach. Sochor and Hajsinek accompanied the transport, which set off first in the direction of Mittersill and arrived at Bramberg in the Salzburger Pinzgau, where the artworks were stored in the Weyerhof. The next day the journey continued, now accompanied only by Wehrmacht officers, as the two restorers had to remain in Bramberg, where they attempted to contact the US army. On 23 May 1945, Sochor and Hajsinek returned to Bad Ischl and wrote a memo, now in the KHM archive, on the events that had taken place over the previous three weeks. The artworks later turned up in St. Johann in Tyrol and were given to the US military authorities, which stored them initially in a hall in in Kleßheim near Salzburg. Sochor remained in Lauffen until November 1945 and then returned to Vienna with the first transport of cultural objects. In 1946 he became head of the technical unit in the restoration department of the Kunsthistorisches Museum and in 1963 was awarded the title professor. He retired in 1969.
Morwenna Blewett, Restorers in the Service of the Nazi Kleptocracy. A Case Study from the Sequestrations of the Dienststelle Mühlmann, in: Ruth Heftrig/Olaf Peters/Barbara Schellewald (Hg.), Kunstgeschichte im "Dritten Reich". Theorien. Methoden, Praktiken, Berlin 2008, 393–404.
Theodor Brückler (Hg.), Kunstraub, Kunstbergung und Restitution in Österreich 1938 bis heute, Wien 1999.
Agnieszka Gasior, Zwischen Okkupation und Konspiration. Streiflichter auf die Situation von Kunsthistorikern im besetzten Polen (1939–1945), in: Magdalena Bushart/Agnieszka Gasior/Alena Janatková (Hg.), Kunstgeschichte in den besetzten Gebieten 1939–1945, Köln-Weimar-Wien 2016, 111–139.
Katharina Hammer, Glanz im Dunkeln. Die Bergung von Kunstschätzen im Salzkammergut am Ende des 2. Weltkrieges, 3. Auflage, Altaussee 1996.
Herbert Haupt, Jahre der Gefährdung. Das Kunsthistorische Museum 1938–1945, Wien 1995.
Elisabeth Krack, Konservierungswissenschaft schreibt Geschichte. Objektrestaurierung an der Angewandten. – Ein Beitrag zur Entwicklungsgeschichte der Konservierungswissenschaft und Restaurierung, Wien-Köln-Weimar 2012.
Isabel Röskau-Rydel, NS-Kunst und Kulturpolitik in Krakau unter Deutscher Besatzung am Beispiel von Museen und Ausstellungen 1939 – 1945, in: Tanja Baensch/Kristina Kratz-Kessemeier/Dorothee Wimmer (Hg.), Museen im Nationalsozialismus: Akteure – Orte – Politik, Köln-Weimar-Wien 2016, 191–202.
KHM Archiv, III 1678 PA Franz Sochor; Direktionsakten: I 51, Zl. 30, 31; I 101, Zl. 15 ; I 103, Zl. 7; I 104, Zl. 20; 9/ED/1943, 33/ED/1944, 2/ED/1945, 85/ED/1945; Bergungsakten: XIII 14, XIII 20, XIII 33, XIII 36;
KHM, Gemäldegalerie, 20/GG/1942, 28/GG/1951, 64/GG/1951, 25/GG/1952, 35/GG/1962, 32/GG/1967, 22/GG/1968, 15/GG/1969.
OeStA/AdR, UWK, BMU, Personalakten, Sign. 3, Sochor Franz.