Springer, Valentine

Valentine Springer

Porträt mit Kindern, Schwarzweiß-Foto

25 May 1886 Vienna – 24.7.1969 Lunz am See

née Valentine Rothschild

Valentine Springer was born the sixth of seven children of the banker Albert Salomon Anselm von Rothschild and his wife Bettina Caroline. She was considered a passionate hunter, active sportswoman and enthusiastic amateur photographer. From 1911 she was married to the banker Sigismund von Springer (1875-1928), who was, among other functions, a general councillor of the Anglo-Oesterreichische Bank and a member of the board of directors of the Oesterreichische Immobiliarbank, and with whom she had two children - Bettina (1912-1974) and Albert Adolf (1914-2008). The Springer couple acquired British citizenship but kept their centre of life in Vienna. From 1912 onwards residing in the Palais Bourgoing at Metternichgasse 8 in Vienna's 3rd district, they also owned properties in Lower Austria and Styria, including Sitzenberg Castle near Tulln, acquired in 1913, with extensive hunting grounds. Both houses were equipped with historical furniture and numerous graphic works (e.g., Rudolf and Jakob von Alt, Matthias Schmutzer, Christian Brand, Laurenz Janscha) and paintings by French and English painters (including Maria Louise Vigée-Lebrun, Thomas Lawrence, Joshua Reynolds and John Russell). The valuable library and archive holdings in Sitzenberg included art topographical, historical, classical and romantic literature, scientific works, letters, memoirs and armorial books.

After the “Anschluss”, Valentine Springer was among the persecuted because of her Jewish origins. Deregistered for Paris at the beginning of 1939, she subsequently fled to Switzerland, where she was to remain after the end of the war. Valentine Springer's British citizenship made it difficult for the Nazi authorities to gain direct access to her assets, which were considered "enemy assets" from 1939 onwards and were placed under fiduciary administration in accordance with the "Verordnung über die Behandlung feindlichen Vermögens" (Decree on the Treatment of Enemy Assets) of 15 January 1940. Continued efforts to confiscate Valentine Springer's assets for the Reich after 1940 failed. In the case of both Metternichgasse and Schloss Sitzenberg, Valentine Springer formally remained the owner and was also recorded as such in the land register, however, the property in Sitzenberg as well as the furnishings of both properties were partially sold (allegedly to cover administrative costs). Robert Möder, art dealer and one of the heads of the so-called "Möbelaktion" (furniture campaign) of the Property Transaction Office, and architect Franz Wilfert prepared appraisal lists for this purpose, in which the furnishings of both houses were grossly undervalued. The antiquarian Werner Heck appraised Valentine Springer's engravings. Most of the interior furnishings in Metternichgasse were to be sold by April 1941. In November 1940, the Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM) in Vienna took over eight paintings by English and French great artists into the restoration workshop and purchased them in February 1941 for 35,000 Reichsmark. From December 1940, Palais Metternichgasse was rented to the army base administration and two private parties. In August 1941, the architect and Dorotheum valuation master Ottokar Weigel submitted lists of appraisals that assessed the value of the interior furnishings at 347,000 Reichsmark. More valuable objects went to the Dorotheum for auction, the rest were to be sold freely or offered in advance to the Hitler Youth, which moved into Schloss Sitzenberg at the end of 1941. In November 1941, the Institute for Monument Preservation placed the archive and library holdings of the castle under monument protection and the Reichsstatthalterei Niederdonau (Reich Governor's Office Lower Danube Region) ordered their transfer to the Gauarchiv (Regional Archive), Herrengasse 11. The archive holdings stored in the Dorotheum were finally handed over to the Reichsgauarchiv (Reich Regional Archive) in October 1944 and recovered in the Parish House Ravelsbach at the end of 1944. In 1942/1943, there were further sales and auctions from Sitzenberg's holdings.

In the post-war years, Valentine Springer was registered alternately in Vienna and Zürich. In 1946, the British military government entrusted Ferdinand Maier with the administration of Valentine Springer's assets. In the same year, Valentine Springer authorised lawyer Karl Trauttmansdorff to carry out the restitution negotiations. The latter filed criminal charges against Robert Möder, among other things. In fact, in the course of the investigation, art objects ("furniture, pictures, porcelain") from the palace in Metternichgasse were secured from Möder and returned to Valentine Springer. In November 1947, the Federal Ministry of Education approved a restitution settlement concerning the paintings in the KHM: The KHM committed itself to restituting seven of the eight paintings to Valentine Springer, in return and as a prerequisite for the granting of an export permit, Valentine Springer was to give the painting of Diana Sturt by Thomas Lawrence to the museum. In 1948, Valentine Springer exported the rest of her furnishings stored in Metternichgasse to Switzerland. In 1950, she sold Schloss Sitzenberg, which today houses a Higher Federal School for Food and Agriculture, to the Republic of Austria. A large part of the building in Metternichgasse was rented to the Republic of Austria for an indefinite period in 1950, among other things for a branch of the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna and was finally purchased by the latter in 1983. In 1950 Valentine Springer donated 163 objects to the Volkskundemuseum, which gave two of them to the KHM's weapons collection in November 1950. At the end of 1950/beginning of 1951, Valentine Springer donated three graphic works by Lorenz Janscha, Johann Christian Brand and Jakob Mathias Schmutzer to the Albertina and a sedan chair to the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts. The Museum of Military History (HGM) received seven oil paintings in 1951 and took over another oil painting and a heliogravure by Valentine Springer in 1959. In 2013, the Art Restitution Advisory Board recommended the restitution of the painting by Thomas Lawrence from the KHM to the legal successors of Valentine Springer; in 2014, the painting was returned. For the dedications of the 1950s, on the other hand, no content-related or temporal reference to export acts that would have justified restitution could be observed.

Author Info
Publications about the person / institution

Stefan Eminger, Das Niederösterreichische Landesarchiv 1938–1945, in: Mitteilungen des OeStA 54 (2010), 473–525.

Sophie Lillie, Was einmal war. Handbuch der enteigneten Kunstsammlungen Wiens, Wien 2003.

Josef Prinz, Sitzenberg, in: Ernst Bezemek/Willibald Rosner (Hg.), Heimatbuch Sitzenberg-Reidling, Sitzenberg-Reidling 2007, 330–345.

Salomon Wininger, Sigismund Springer, in: Große jüdische National-Biographie, Band 5, Czernowitz 1931, 601, URL: sammlungen.ub.uni-frankfurt.de/freimann/content/pageview/6394099 (25.4.2023).

J. Mentschl, Sigismund Springer, in: ÖBL, 1815–1950, Band 13, 55, URL: www.biographien.ac.at/oebl/oebl_S/Springer_Sigmund_1875_1928.xml (25.4.2023).


Albertina-Archiv, Zl. 319/1951.

BDA-Ausfuhr, Zl. 308/1947, Zl. 7324/1947, Zl. 733/1948, Valentine Springer.
BDA-Archiv, Historische Materialien, Zl. 4422/Dsch/1939, Zl. 5311/Dsch/1939, Mappe Schloss Sitzenberg.
BDA-Archiv, Historische Materialien, Wohnungsanforderungen, Notariatsakt Valentine Springer, Zl. 2858/1919.
BDA-Archiv, Restitutionsmaterialen, K. 47/1, PM und PM-Nachtrag Valentine Springer.
BDA-Archiv, Restitutionsmaterialen, K. 50/2, PM Mary Wooster.
BDA-Kanzlei, Archiv, Akt Metternichgasse.
BDA, Landeskonservatorat Niederösterreich, Akt Sitzenberg.

Bezirksgericht Tulln, historisches Grundbuch.

Bezirksgericht Wien Innere Stadt, historisches Grundbuch.

KHM-Archiv, Direktionsakten, 237/KL/1940, 62/KL/1941, 15/XII/ED/1947.
KHM, Gemäldegalerie, 1/GG/1941, 5/GG/1941, 28/GG/1946, 4/GG/1947, 42/GG/1947.
KHM, Hofjagd- und Rüstkammer, 50/WS/1950.

MAK-Archiv, Hauptakt Zl. 157-1948, 111-1951, 511-1962.
MAK-Spezialinventarbuch "Holz II".

Musikuniversität Wien, Archiv, K. Metternichgasse 8.

NÖLA, Landtafel B 17/EZ 402.
NÖLA, RStH ND IVc, AND, Zl. 123.
NÖLA, RStH ND IVc, AND, Zl. 211.

ÖMV-Archiv, Herkunftsakten, Zl. 365/1950.
ÖMV-Archiv, Inventarbuch, Inventarnummern 47.520 bis 47.682.

OeStA/AdR, Justiz BMJ 2Rep VP, III/A, "Feindvermögen", K. 208/177, Valentine Springer.

WStLA, Historische Wiener Meldeunterlagen, Meldeauskünfte Valentine und Sigismund Springer.
WStLA, M.Abt 119, A41, VEAV Zl. 157, 3. Bez., Robert Möder.
WStLA, M.Abt 119, A41, VEAV Zl. 157, 4./5. Bez., Robert Möder.
WStLA, Volksgericht, A1, Vg Vr 5640/47, Robert Möder.