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June 1938, 14 Volksgartenstraße

The director of the Institute for the Blind, Johann Gruber, is arrested for making anti-Nazi statements, sentenced to 3 years in prison and murdered in Gusen concentration camp in 1944.

Time and time again Johann Gruber made public statements against the Nazis which is why, immediately after the 12th of March, two teachers began to collect evidence of his subversive attitudes and alleged “immorality”. Alongside his political infractions he was also accused of touching his pupils immorally. On the 10th of May 1938 Gruber was taken into police custody and four months later sentenced to three years hard labour. In the meantime Linz newspapers and the “Österreichische Beobachter” published inflammatory articles about the “Gruber case” in which the formerly respected director of the Institute for the Blind was reviled as a sex fiend.

After two years of imprisonment, Gruber was handed over the Gestapo, put in preventative detention and on the 4th of April 1940 deported to Dachau. Thereafter he was taken to Mauthausen and subsequently to the subcamp Gusen. While in the camp he was able to smuggle out information about events in the camp through civilian contacts.

At the beginning of 1944 the Gestapo in Vienna found out about Gruber’s illegal information network. He was locked up, naked, in the “bunker”, the prison in the Gusen camp. There he was brutally mishandled by the camp commandant of Gusen Fritz Seidler, and then shot. The register of deaths for Gusen notes his prison number 43050 and gives the cause of death as “suicide by hanging” on the 7th of April 1944.