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Trial Testimony of Rosa Schnedlitz

US Holocaust Memorial Museum

The annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in March 1938—commonly known as the Anschluss—subjected Austrian Jews to systematic persecution under the Nuremberg Laws. These racial laws defined Jewish people as a separate race from so-called "Aryans" and targeted families with both Jewish and "Aryan" members. 

Many so-called "German-blooded" spouses sought to divorce their Jewish partners. Motives for seeking divorce included political pressure by the Gestapo, the desire to protect their children, and selfish preservation of their own privileged "Aryan" status—despite the danger of persecution for their Jewish spouses.2

Among those who pursued a divorce was an Austrian woman named Rosa Schwarz. Having married Michael Schwarz in 1922, Rosa, born Roman Catholic, had joined the Jewish Religious Community of Vienna. She and her husband raised their seven children in the Jewish tradition. After the Anschluss, Michael was sent to perform forced labor in upper Austria. Meanwhile, Rosa became involved with a member of the Nazi Party named Josef Scholz. When her husband returned to Vienna, she asked him for a divorce, which he refused. In April 1943, Michael was arrested by the Gestapo under the pretense of Communist activity. He died a few months later while imprisoned in Auschwitz. Rosa remarried and changed her last name to Schnedlitz.

In 1946, Rosa was accused of denouncing her first husband to the Gestapo and put on trial in Vienna.3 Her court testimony, featured here, presents Schnedlitz's version of events. Based on accounts from her children and several other witnesses, the court found Rosa guilty and sentenced her to five years in prison. The verdict was reached on the basis of Rosa’s supposed race hatred toward Michael because he was Jewish. The details of the case raise questions about the role of marriage during the Holocaust. To what extent were "Aryan" partners responsible for their Jewish spouses? The case of Rosa Schnedlitz—and the fate of her husband—is just one example among thousands of couples in the Third Reich whose marriages were complicated by Nazi racial policies.

To learn more about marriages between Jewish and non-Jewish people in Austria under Nazi rule, see Evan Burr Bukey, Jews and Intermarriage in Nazi Austria (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 1–22. 

For more details on the complexity of dissolving such marriages, see the chapter "Intermarried Divorce, 1938-1945" in Bukey, Jews and Intermarriage, 82–140, especially pages 92–94.

Schnedlitz was also accused of denouncing their seven children, which resulted in their deportation to the Theresienstadt ghetto in 1944. All of them survived the ghetto and returned to Vienna with the Red Army. Three of the eldest offspring, Erwin, Hilda, and Bertha Schwarz, testified against their mother in court. For more details, see Herbert Dohmen and Nina Scholz, "Der Jud' Muss Weg!" in Denunziert: Jeder tut mit. Jeder denkt nach. Jeder meldet (Wien: Czernin Verlag, 2003), 9-31. The case also appears in Martin Krist and Albert Lichtblau, Nationalsozialismus in Wien: Opfer, Täter, Gegner (Innsbruck: Studien Verlag, 2017), 165–167. One of Rosa's younger daughters, Maria, published an autobiography in which she describes denunciation by her mother. See Maria Gabrielsen, Oddvar Schjølberg, Angezeigt von Mama: Die Geschichte einer Denunziation (Berlin: Metropol-Verlag, 2018). 

Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei. German: "National Socialist German Workers Party."

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Reference Number Vg3c Vr 5056/46

Questioning of the Accused

District Criminal Court I, Vienna II

August 23, 1946   Beginning 

In attendance:

Judge: Higher Regional Court Councillor Gruchol

Secretary: Court clerk Gusti Desarsch

Criminal proceedings against Rosa Schnedlitz

The accused is urged to give distinct, clear, and truthful answers to the questions that are to be submitted. The accused states with regard to [her] personal circumstances:

First name and surname (for women, also maiden name): Rosa Schnedlitz, née Schandl, formerly Schwarz

Name usually used or byname:

Parents' names:  Josef and Marianne Schandl, maiden name unknown

Husband's first name: Matthias Schnedlitz

Day, month, year of birth: February 20, 1895

Place (district, region) of birth: Vienna 

Home town (district, region): Vienna

Religious affiliation: Roman Catholic (1922–1938, Jewish)

Marital status:  Married

Occupation and occupational status: Household; maker of straw hats

Last place of residence (street address): 11th [district of Vienna], Simmering, 85/I/2 Hauptstr.

Formal education: 5th grade of elementary school     8 k

Assets and income: no, no income (one half)

Obligation to care for: no

Prior convictions: no


I acknowledge that preliminary proceedings have been instituted against me due to suspicion of commission of a crime under §7/3 of the KVG [War Criminals Act], and that detention pending trial is imposed on me in accordance with §§175.2.3 and 180/2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. 

I was never a member of the NSDAP1 or one of its organizations. In [19]22 I married the Jew Michael Schwarz and also converted to Judaism. I had been an Aryan and am a Roman Catholic. I was married to Michael Schwarz for 22 years. In [19]42 I met Jos. Scholz. After I had previously been forced by the NSDAP1 to leave my husband Michael Schwarz. I was nagged by the Party to renounce the long-term relationship with the Jew. At the instigation of my domestic partner Scholz, I directed a letter to my husband Michael Schwarz, asking him to agree to a divorce. Because he was not willing to agree to the divorce, I wrote again at Scholz's urging, reminding him [Schwarz] that in [19]28, when the communists in the Lobau region were hunting down Nazis, he also took part in this and beat up Nazis. I asked Mr. Scholz to give this letter only to my husband in person. But Scholz, behind my back, took this letter to the police, and I was summoned to the police on the basis of these facts. What happened to my husband was not known to me at that time. I learned only later, when I got out of the Lainzer Hospital in January [19]44, that my husband had died. Not until I was at the Gestapo office did I learn that my husband was in Auschwitz and died there from angina and inflammation of a muscle. That he was gassed, about that I knew nothing.

As concerns my middle daughter, Hilda, all I said about her at the Simmering police station was that she did not want to wear the Jewish star. I was not ill-intentioned, and all I wanted was for the police to caution her, because she was unwilling to heed my admonitions. My daughter Hilde [sic] was summoned to the police station, and nothing happened to her there.

My oldest son, Erwin, was denounced by the plant manager of the Persil firm because he was a Jew, and he [the manager] also wanted to fire him for that reason.

Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Accession Number 2004.118
RG Number 17.003M
Date Created
August 23, 1946
Page(s) 2
Author / Creator
District Criminal Court
Vienna, Austria
Document Type Report
How to Cite Museum Materials

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