Friedmann, Desider

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FRIEDMANN, DESIDER (1880–1944), lawyer and Zionist leader. Born in Boskovice, Moravia, he was an active Zionist from 1898. When Vienna became the first great Jewish community in the West with a Zionist majority, Friedmann was elected vice president of its Israelitische Kultusgemeinde (Jewish community; 1920–24) and from January 1933 its president. In May 1934 Friedmann was appointed a member of the Austrian Council of State (Staatsrat). He was a courageous fighter for Jewish rights and enlarged the cultural, educational, and social activities of the Kultusgemeinde. The Austrian chancellor Schuschnigg dispatched him abroad in 1938, a few weeks before the annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany (the Anschluss), to negotiate support for Austrian currency. Immediately after the Anschluss, the Nazis arrested him, allegedly for his financial aid to the Schuschnigg government. On April 1, 1938, he was deported to the Dachau concentration camp with the so-called Prominententransport (transport of prominent people) and later to other concentration camps. In the autumn of 1944 he, his wife, and other Zionist leaders of Vienna were transferred from Theresienstadt to the gas chambers at Auschwitz.


J. Fraenkel (ed.), Jews of Austria (1967), index; H. Gold (ed.), Die Juden und Judengemeinden Maehrens … (1929), 92. add. bibliography: L. Brenner, Zionism in the Age of Dictators – A Reappraisal (1983).

[Josef Fraenkel /

Bjoern Siegel (2nd ed.)]