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Nathaniel Freiherr von Rothschild'sche Stiftung für Nervenkranke

THE FOUNDATION

In 1907, Albert Freiherr von Rothschild (1844 -1911) established the “Nathaniel Freiherr von Rothschild’sche Stiftung für Nervenkranke.“ in Vienna. This fulfilled his late brother Nathaniel’s (1836 –1905) wish to establish an endowment in his name that would serve patients suffering from mental illness. Little more than a century later, the City of Vienna is effectively destroying the institution - a development that is both wrong and clearly illegal.

Are we to accept that today - 75 years after the end of Nazi rule in Austria - a process of illegal expropriation should ultimately and successfully be concluded in a democratic country, a member of the European Union, one that is governed by the rule of law? We hope not.

Our goal is to reestablish the foundation in its original form: to be managed by an indipendent board of trustees that - as planned in 1907-- to be filled by 9 representatives appointed by the family, 2 representatives from the state of Lower Austria and one representative from the state of Vienna.

In challenging the City of Vienna to address this grevious wrong, we seek no personal profit.

This is not about taking back personally what was stolen; this is about having the Endowment serve its original purpose: to support those Austrians with pyschologicial challenges with he professional attention they need. This is why we want to prevent the administration of the City of Vienna from finally and effectively appropriating the Endowments assets for itself.

We estimate the total value of the Endowment – including past property sales - at more than than 110 Mio. Euros.

THE CITY OF VIENNA AND THE FOUNDATION

1907 - 2020

  • 1905

    Nathaniel’s Last Wishes

    On June 13th, 1905 Nathaniel Freiherr von Rothischild dies childless in Vienna. In his will, he created an endowment to support impoverished Austrians suffering from psychological and neurological challenges.

  • August 5th 1907

    Fullfillment: The Creation of the Endowement

    In fulfilling his deceased brother‘s wish, Albert Freiherr von Rothschild establishes the “Nathaniel Freiherr von Rothschild’sche Stiftung für Nervenkranke” in Austria on August 5th 1907. The endowment amounted to 20 million Kronen (approx. 122 million Euros at today’s value). The historian Roman Sandgruber has identified this to have been the largest philanthropic endowment in Austrian history. Never before and never again has there been such a generous gift to the public.

  • by 1914

    Implementation: Creation of the Clinics

    Two clinics are established: the “Maria-Theresien-Schlössel” in Vienna’s 19th district; an 18th century palace, which the endowment adapted to its new purpose between 1912 and 1914 with 66 and later to 200 beds; and the “Nervenheilanstalt Rosenhügel” in Vienna’s 13th district, a newly constructed assembly of pavilions providing 92 beds.

  • 1938 - 1939

    Nazi-Rule: Arianization and Expropriation

    As a result of the Nazis taking power in Austria on March 12th 1938, the private property of the Rothschild family is aryanized and the Endowment dissolved. On April 21st 1939 the Endowment’s assets are transferred to the City of Vienna.

  • 1942

    First property sale at the expense of the Endowment

    In 1942 the first substantial sale of real estate occurrs: the City of Vienna sells 67,000 sqm of land of the endowments assets on “Rosenhügel” to Wien-Film GesmbH, a subsidiary of the City of Vienna.

  • 1956

    Post-War: the pro-forma re-establishment

    On July 24th 1956 the Endowment is re-established, apparent in accordance with its charter as it had been on March 10th 1938; however, in factual disregard for the original charter, the City of Vienna entrusted itself to administer the endowment´s assets.

  • 1962

    The Token-Settlement

    In 1962, the City of Vienna (as administrator of the Endowement) agrees to a restitution settlement with the City of Vienna (it its role as aryanization profiteer).

  • 1963

    The Endowment as Real-Estate Holding

    At least from 1963 onwards there is no independent Rothschild Hospital on Rosenhügel. Far more: the City of Vienna uses the facilities on Rosenhügel to run an own municipal clinic, without – as far as we can tell – paying any lease to the Rothschild Endowmet.

  • 2002

    Second property sale at the expense of the Endowment

    Sale of the “Maria-Theresien-Schlössel” in Vienna’s 19th district by the City of Vienna (acting as administrator of the Endowment) is made to the City of Vienna at a price significantly under market-value.

  • 2017

    The City of Vienna as Ultimate Beneficiary: The Beginning of the End of the Rothschild Endowment?

    By substantially altering the endowment’s constitutive charter in 2017, the City of Vienna eliminates the requirement of a governing board dominated by the family and installs itself, the City of Vienna, as the ultimate beneficiary of all of the Rothschild Endowment’s assets.

  • 2019

    Last Preparations for a sell-off?

    In autumn of 2019 a plan for the property at Rosenhügel is filed with the magisterial department 62 of the City of Vienna for approval. Around this time a motion is filed to obtain a logging permit with regard to 172 trees in the park of the Rosenhügel clinic. Are these the last preparations for a sale of the Rosenhügel and the final prelude to the complete annihilation of the Rothschild endowment?

The Expropriation Story

In 1907, Albert Freiherr von Rothschild (1844 -1911) established in Austria, the “Nathaniel Freiherr von Rothschild’sche Stiftung für Nervenkranke”. This fulfilled his deceased brother Nathaniel’s (1836–1905) desire to establish an endowment in his name serving patients suffering from mental illness.

The endowment amounting to 20 million Kronen (approx. 122 million Euros at today’s value) was to lay the foundation for state of the art mental health clinics in Vienna. Annual proceeds were to cover the running costs of their operation. In due course two clinics were established:

  • The Maria-Theresien-Schlössel in Vienna’s 19th district: an 18th century palace, which the endowment adapted to its new purpose between 1912 and 1914 with 66 and later 200 beds
  • The Nervenheilanstalt Rosenhügel in Vienna’s 13th district: in 1912, a newly constructed assembly of pavilions providing 92 beds.

The founding charter lays out the fundamental principles by which the endowment was to serve its purpose. These are, amongst others: the installation of a “Kuratorium” (governing board) comprised of 12 individuals - nine members were to be nominated by the Rothschild family, two by the regional state of Lower Austria and one by the municipality of Vienna. This governing board was charged inter alia with the administration of assets, the construction and supervision of clinics, as well as the establishment of the rules and regulations and the appointment of medical personnel.

Furthermore, the endowment charter clearly compels the governing board to permanently secure its independence.

On April 21st 1939, as a result of the Nazis taking power in Austria in 1938, the endowment was dissolved by decree of the so called “Stillhaltekommisar” while deducting 651.250 Reichsmark (3.6 million Euros at today’s value) as an “administrative fee” for the benefit of the Third Reich. Its other assets were transferred to the City of Vienna as part of the procedure regularly referred to as “aryanization”.

On July 24th 1956 the endowment was reestablished allegedly in accordance with its charter as it had been on March 10th 1938 (two days before the “Anschluss”).

However, in willful and flagrant disregard of the original charter, the governing board was not reinstated to administer the endowment. Instead, the municipality of Vienna, which had aided, abetted, and implemented the dissolution of the endowment, authorized itself once again to administer it.

In doing so, the City of Vienna retained control over the endowment and the property that had been expropriated by the Nazis in compliance with the City of Vienna. By not including descendants of the Rothschild Family, Vienna was in effect perpetuating the expropriation and aryanization program. Thus, although in 1956 the City of Vienna nominally resurrected a semblance of the original endowment, it continued to administer the endowment as it had done following the expropriation in 1939. In short, the City of Vienna systematically and deliberately evaded the legal and moral obligation to reestablish the endowment according to the founder’s original intentions respecting the purpose and independence of the endowment. The result was also an infringement of the rights of the regional State of Lower Austria.

In addition, the City of Vienna illegally and effectively evaded federal oversight by re-establishing the endowment under provincial law rather than federal law, as it would have been required to do as the class of beneficiaries was not limited to the residents of Vienna.

As a result of these actions, the “Magistratsabteilung 40” (department 40 of the municipal administration) is now in charge of the management of the endowment. This is strange as the municipal administration acts also as the supervisory authority for endowments on a regional level in Vienna (“Magistratsabteilung 62” - department 62 of the municipal administration). This conflict of interest blatantly disregards applicable law that, in order to avoid conflicts of interest, clearly prohibits the management of endowments by individuals representing authorities charged with the supervision of such endowments.

The ongoing expropriation, seizure of authority over the endowment, and disregard of laws regarding conflicts of interest, have permitted the City of Vienna wrongfully to grab profits it had no right to obtain. It sold substantial assets of the endowment to itself at a price significantly under market value in 2002 (Maria-Theresien-Schlössel).

It substantially altered and in due course approved the endowment’s constitutive charter in 2017, eliminating even the pretense of having a governing board and making the City of Vienna the ultimate beneficiary of all of the Rothschild Endowment’s assets. It has rewritten a will to make itself the main heir, and has done by guile what had been done in 1938 by brute force, viz., dissolved the Endowment for its own benefits. The City’s actions represent a grievous case of self-dealing, possibly the most cynical in the history of aryanization and restitution in post war Austria.

These latest alterations to the charter create an imminent and grave danger to the further existence of what is left of the original Austrian Rothschild Endowment. The City of Vienna appears to have taken first steps towards selling the Rosenhügel property for real estate development by integrating the Neurological Clinic Rosenhügel into the “Hospital Hietzing”, and then applying for the division of plots on the property and for a felling permit for 172 trees on the premises of this former Rothschild clinic.

In doing so, the City of Vienna is following the same modus operandi it had once before successfully applied when monetizing the “Maria-Theresien Schlössel”: First, the patients are transferred to one of the larger clinics run by the City of Vienna. Next, it said that the endowment clinic is no longer needed and cannot be maintained. Finally, the real estate is sold in a self-dealing transaction, with the proceed going to the city´s coffers.

Given that the City of Vienna has (in our opinion unlawfully) installed itself as the ultimate beneficiary of the endowment´s assets, closing down and selling the last remaining Rothschild hospital (Rosenhügel) would ensure that the fundamental purpose of the endowment can no longer be fulfilled. This would effectively complete the expropriation and “aryanization” started in 1938.

Our motives

Geoffrey Hoguet, Copyright: Georges Schneider© Copyright: Georges Schneider
Geoffrey Hoguet
visiting Vienna
  • In dedicating significant parts of his estate to an endowment addressing the burning issues of his time - such as the complete lack of medical care for impoverished mental health patients at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century - Nathaniel Rothschild proved himself to be a man highly sensitive to social issues, and exceptionally mindful of then state-of-the-art means to address these issues.
  • We are deeply troubled by developments that will ultimately lead to an annihilation of his legacy and are determined to legally and morally challenge any attempt to further disrespect our great-grand-uncle’s and great grandfather’s intentions and memory.
  • Are we to accept that today - 75 years after the end of Nazi rule in Austria - a process of illegal expropriation should ultimately and successfully be concluded in a democratic country, a member of the European Union, one that is governed by the rule of law? We hope not.
  • That is why we have decided to take this matter to court.
  • Our objective is to have the Austrian Rothschild Endowment fully and truly reestablished based on its pre-Nazi-era constitution, thus independently serving the spirit of its original purpose. This means, in particular, the reestablishment of the governing board and the nullification of all property sales made after 1938.
  • In addition, the name of the Rothschild Endowment must be preserved and continued.
  • In challenging the City of Vienna to step down, we seek no personal profit.
  • This is not about taking back personally what was stolen, but rather about returning to those Austrians iwith emotional challenges what the City of Vienna has no right to dispose of.
  • Our vision is to reestablish an independent "Nathaniel Rothschild Stiftung" in Austria that dedicates itself to address relevant contemporary challenges in mental health treatment and care in the spirit of our ancestors.
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