Laura Broch and Karoline Broch

Laura Broch geb. Krämer was born on March 23, 1879 in Jägerndorf (Silesia). She was married to Philipp Broch, a highly respected economist and prominent banker who was the Director of the K.k. Priv. Allegemeine Verkehrsbank. Laura and Philipp Broch had two children – Dr. Erich Broch born on December 7, 1904 in Linz and Edith Broch (married Weisz) born on December 22, 1911 in Vienna.  On September 22, 1934, Dr. Erich Broch married Karoline Tief who was born on July 18, 1906. Edith Broch, married Arthur Weisz and together resided in Vienna until March 11, 1938. They were able to flee Austria for the US before 1939.

After his death on May 20, 1936, Philipp Broch’s wife inherited all of his assets, including his art collection. As a very wealthy widow, Laura Broch lived with her elderly mother, Celilia Krämer, in Vienna’s 18th district at Pötzleindsdorferstraße 33. Just days after the Anschluss, on March 16, 1938, Laura Broch was taken into “protective custody” by the police pending a “criminal” investigation; her passport, house keys, money, coins, savings accounts, securities and jewelry were seized, and her house cordoned off.

One June 1, 1938 the police blocked access to her bank accounts and an administrator, RA Herbert Gödl, was appointed to oversee the property. Laura remained in custody until June 16, 1938. On her asset declaration, filed pursuant to the law of April 27, 1938, Laura Broch listed assets valued at nearly 1 million RM, including her art collection, as catalogued by the court appointed art expert and appraiser Eugene Primavesi. In accordance with the 11th Decree of November 1941, Laura Broch was stripped of her citizenship and her assets were seized by and for the Reich. Her art collection was later sold by the VUGESTA.

Dr. Erich Broch, an attorney, and his wife Karoline also filed asset declarations in July 1938 listing works of art which were kept with his mother’s in her home. There works were also confiscated. Erich and his wife fled Vienna in September 1938 and arrived in the US in August 1939 having immigrated via Switzerland and France. Before leaving Austria Erich was able to secure an export visa for several of his works of art including, watercolors and 6 oil paintings (though specific details of which works are not listed on the permit). In accordance with the 11th Decree of November 1941, Erich Broch and his wife Karoline (who, though not Jewish, was treated as one because she did not divorce her husband) were also stripped of their citizenship and any assets remaining in Austria were seized by and for the Reich including artworks which were later sold by the VUGESTA.

Recovered Works from the Broch Collection