The Jewish Chronicle

Jews ‘killed for sport’ at party

- BY SIMON ROCKER AND TOBY AXELROD IN BERLIN

A MEMBER of one of Europe’s wealthiest families, the Thyssens, staged a ball where up to 200 Jews were killed for guests’ amusement in Austria in 1945, according to claims made by a new book to be published this month.

In The Thyssen Art Macabre, author David R L Litchfield links Baroness Margit Thyssen-Bornemisza Jr to the alleged atrocity. She was the granddaugh­ter of the German industrial­ist who establishe­d the family’s fortune and elder daughter of the founder of the famous art collection associated with its name, Heinrich Thyssen.

On March 24 1945, Margit and her husband, Count Ivan Batthyány, were staying in Rechnitz Castle on the Austro-Hungarian border, according to evidence obtained by Mr Litchfield. The castle, given to her by her father, was being used as an SS recreation­al centre.

With Russian forces just five days away, Margit and her husband held a party for 30-40 people on that night, among them Franz Podezin, a Gestapo civil servant.

At around midnight, 200 Jewish forced labourers working in the area were herded to a piece of land near the castle, Mr Litchfield says. According to the book, Podezin invited 15 guests to take guns and “go and kill some Jews”.

While there was no proof of the count or baroness taking part in the shooting, local people reported that she had

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