NA BISTER

Holzgassen (memorial, cross)

Historical background

See the text below

Description of commemoration

A local blacksmith-artist, a descendant of a family of blacksmiths with artistic traditions, Peter Lechner, placed a wrought-iron cross with rich ornamentation typical for the local customs at the crossroads. Each cross that came from the hand of the late Peter Lechner, as well as his son Anton and grandson, is truly unique. Similarly, in the case of the cross dedicated to the local Sinti family of the Kerndlbachers, who were murdered during the war.

Peter Lechner came up with the idea for erecting this memorial cross as he still remembered the Kerndlbacher family, and as a blacksmith – he felt a lot of sympathy for these great craftsmen.

The vertical beam of the cross is crowned with a flame, forming a kind of a candle, whereas the transverse beam bears the inscription “Hallelujah”. In the place where the crossbars meet, the symbol chi rho (chi “Χ” and rho “Ρ” – from the Greek word Christ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ, forming a monogram ☧). The rays which run from the flame support the oval roof above the cross, decorated with a valance. Below the intersection of the beams, there is a steel plate in the shape of an inverted shield, on which, a handwritten memorial inscription was placed. This inscription is devoted  to the Kerndlbacher family and it also includes a text about the fate of this family. Earlier in the frame there was a printout version of this inscription, but when it was damaged, it was replaced with a handwritten inscription.

The cross is placed according to traditional iconography on the symbolic Golgotha, i.e. a small hill, on which the artist also embedded a skull.

 

Inscriptions

In German:

(original, longer version)

Erichtet von Peter Lechner / Künstschmied und Mettalbildhauer // Das Schicksal der Familie Kerndlbacher // Der unselige Rassenwahn des NS Regmies mit seiner Unterteilung der Menschen in ‘Arier’ und ‘minderwertige Rassen’, wie zum Beispiel Osteuropäer, Zigeuner, Juden etc., forderte auch in Hochburg-Ach seine Opfer.

Die Familie Kerndlbacher gehörte zu den ‘Sinti’ (Stamm der Zigeuner) und lebte vor allem im Winter im so genannten ‘Zigeunerhaus’ in Holzgassen sowie bei verschiedenen Bauern der Umgebung. Während des Sommers zogen die meisten Familienmitglieder durchs Land und verdienten sich ihr Geld mit Pferdehandel, Messer- und Scherenschleiferei, dem Flicken von Regenschirmen oder dem Musizieren in Gasthäusern. Teilweise standen sie in der Bevölkerung nicht besonders gut angesehen da, denn ihnen wurde auch der Diebstahl vor allem von Hühnern nachgesagt. Andererseits waren sie als Pferdespezialisten hoch geschätzt und auch der Hochburger Graf ließ sich beispielsweise von ihnen beim Pferdekauf beraten.

Die Kerndlbacher wurden zum Teil in Hochburg getauft, der erste diesbezügliche Eintrag in den hiesigen Taufmatrikeln stammt aus dem Jahre 1765. Die Kinder der Kerndlbacher gingen, solange sie in der Gemeinde verweilten, in Ach in die Volksschule. Ebenso besaßen nicht wenige Kerndlbacher in Hochburg-Ach das Heimatrecht. Wie viele andere Hochburg-Acher auch mussten sie im 1. Weltkrieg ‘für Kaiser und Vaterland’ zum Militär einrücken.

Nach dem Einmarsch der deutschen Truppen 1938 durften die ‘Zigeuner’ in der ganzen ‘Ostmark’ ihren momentanen Aufenthaltsort nicht mehr verlassen und wurden schließlich in spezielle Lager gebracht. Nur einer konnte sich beim Abtransport aus Hochburg-Ach durch einen Sprung vom Lastwagen retten und versteckte sich im ‘Tiefen Tal’. Die meisten Mitglieder der Familie Kerndlbacher kamen in das Lager Maxglan/Salzburg, wo sie teilweise als Statisten für einen Film von Leni Riefenstahl verwendet wurden und Entwässerungsarbeiten an der Glan durchführen mussten.

Im Oktober 1941 brachte man die Lagerinsassen nach Lackenbach (Burgenland), von wo aus sie einen Monat später zur Vernichtung in Ghetto Lodz und ins KZ Chelmno (Polen) gebracht wurden. Von den rund 300 Mitgliedern der weitverzweigten Familie Kerndlbacher überlebten nur 3 Personen. Das letzte lebende Mitglied der Familie Kerndlbacher, Frau Rosa Winter-Kerndlbacher, Jahrgang 1923, ‘zuständig’ nach Hochburg-Ach, lebt heute in Enns. Sie überlebte das KZ Ravensbrück, verlor aber ihre Eltern sowie alle 11 Geschwister.

Translation:

Author: Peter Lechner / artistic blacksmith and metal sculptor. // The fate of the Kerndlbacher Family // The tragic racial policy of National Socialism with its division into “Aryans” and representatives of “inferior” races, such as Eastern Europeans, Gypsies, Jews and others, also brought victims among the inhabitants of the Hochburg-Ach commune.

The Kerndlbacher family belonged to the “Sinti” (Gypsy tribe). In winter they lived mainly in the so-called “Gypsy house” in Holzgassen, as well as with various farmers in the area. In the summer, most of the family wandered around the villages, making money from horse trade, grinding knives, scissors, patching umbrellas or playing music in inns. On one hand, they were feared because, allegedly, they were stealing, especially hens. On the other hand, they were highly valued as horse specialists, and even a graph from Hochburg benefited from their advice.

The Kerndlbachers were baptised in the Hohburg fortress-castle, and the first baptism entries in the local birth books date back to 1765. The Kerndlbacher children attended the primary school in Ach. Some members of this family owned houses in Hochburg-Ach. Like many other males, the Kerdlbachers were conscripted during World War I to fight for “emperor and homeland.”

After the invasion of German troops in 1938, “Gypsies” in the entire “Ostmark” were forbidden to leave their current place of residence and were eventually taken to special camps. Only one man in the family managed to save himself by escaping from the lorry during transport from Hochburg-Ach. He hid in a “deep valley.” Most members of the Kerndlbacher family were sent to the Maxglan camp in Salzburg , where some of them appeared as extras in the film by Leni Riefenstahl, and where they were employed to carry out drainage works.

In October 1941, the prisoners were taken from the camp to Lackenbach (Burgenland), from where they were taken to the Łódź (Litzmannstadt) ghetto and,  a month later, they were sent to the Chełmno (Kulmhof an der Nehr) extermination camp. Of the approximately 300 members of the large Kerndlbacher family, only 3 survived. The last surviving member of the Kerndlbacher family, Mrs Rosa Winter-Kerndlbacher, born on in 1923, “responsible” for Hochburg-Ach [perhaps the guardian of the cross – ed. NG], lives today in Enns. She survived the Ravensbrück concentration camp, but lost her parents and all 11 siblings.

Date of the unveiling

2004

Author

Peter Lechner – artistic blacksmith and metal sculptor

Initiator

Peter Lechner

Rosa Winter-Kerndlbacher

Address

Near the building at Holzgassen 27, 5122 Holzgassen, Austria

Location

48°08’32.4″N 12°49’20.1″E
48.142342, 12.822248

Gallery

Blacksmith:

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