Despite football fever and the beginning summer season, the third lecture in the MGH series „Lectures in the History of Medieval Research“, held on July 1 2021, was received with great interest. In particular, Karel Hruza’s account of the fate of Heinz Zatschek’s Jewish neighbours, as documented in some fortunate archival finds, caused great consternation in the audience. The closing discussion was unanimous in recognising the importance of such micro-historical studies.
Heinz Zatschek (1901-1965) was an Austrian scholar who worked for the MGH for 20 years on three projects, editing the imperial charters of Lothair III and Conrad III and, most notably, the letters of Abbot Wibald of Stavelot. Born in Vienna, Zatschek taught at the German University in Prague from 1929 to 1945, with a short intermezzo of three semesters at the University of Vienna 1941/42, and identified himself as a Sudeten-German. He was deeply imbued with Völkish and National Socialist ideology and began propagating his political convictions in his teaching and research since the mid-1930s. As a consequence of his growing politicisation, he finally stepped down from his „boring“ work on MGH edition projects in 1942 in order to concentrate on more politically rewarding academic activities in the sense of the Nazi regime. Through this political positioning, Zatschek established personal connections to SS functionaries in Prague which, in at least one case, he hoped to use for his own gain.
Zatschek’s request for a private room in a „Judenwohnung“ in Prague, 1942
Beginning with a letter written by the SS officer Walter Jacobi to Heinz Zatschek in March 1942 regarding a certain private room (Randzimmer) in a so-called „Judenwohnung“ (a flat expropriated from Jewish owners in which Jews were forced to live as sub-tenants), Dr Karel Hruza explores the context of the Aryanisation of living quarters in Prague Neustadt/Nové Město. Drawing on source material from Czech and Swiss archives, he attempts to reconstruct the fate of Jewish property owners and focuses on the role played by Heinz and Hilde Zatschek.
Dr Karel Hruza, MAS, studied history and political science at the universities of Constance and Vienna and absolved the advanced studies programme at the Institute of Austrian Historical Research (Institut für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung) in Vienna. Besides working as a medieval historian at the Institute for Medieval Studies at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (Institut für Mittelalterforschung der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften) in Vienna, he researches on the history of science in the 20th century, in particular the biography of Heinz Zatschek. Dr Hruza is the editor of the work „Österreichische Historiker. Lebensläufe und Karrieren 1900–1945“ (Austrian Historians. Lives and Careers 1900-1945), published in three volumes 2008-2019.