Menu JTA Search

Supreme Court Reopens the Halsmann Case in Vienna

The Supreme Court of Vienna yesterday reopened the case of Philip Halsmann, a Jewish student who was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment by the lower court of Innsbruck on the charge of patricide.

The Court House was guarded by extra police as a protection against possible demonstrations. Only 50 admittance cards were issued for jurists and journalists, many of whom arrived from abroad to report the trial which has stirred public opinion in Austria, Germany and Latvia. Former Minister of Justice Dinghofer was present at the opening of the trial.

The well-known Berlin lawyer, Rosenthal, volunteered to act as Halsmann’s defense counsel. The sister of the Jewish student, Philip Halsmann, dressed in mourning, was present in the court room on the opening day of the trial.

The sentence imposed by the Innsbruck court upon Philip Halsmann was based chiefly on the testimony of a young Tyrol shepherd boy. He testified that he had seen Philip Halsmann and his father in the Tyrol mountains during a vacation there and that the son had pushed the father into a ravine; causing his death.

The older Halsman was a wealthy dentist of Riga, Latvia. He was the owner of real estate in Palestine and in Switzerland. In the Summer of 1928 the father and son spent their vacation together in the Tyrol mountains. Following a mountain climbing expedition, the elder Halsmann’s body was found in a ravine. The son was arrested, charged with patricide.

The trial, which took place in the Innsbruck court several months ago, attracted wide attention in Austria the anti-Semitic journals playing up the case greatly.

The decision of the Supreme Court to grant the hearing was viewed as recognition on the part of the bench of the public sentiment, given expression in the press, that the jury in the Innsbruck court sentenced the Jewish student on insufficient evidence, being swayed by anti-Jewish prejudice.

NEXT STORY