In his hometown Graz, Franz Öhler was a well-known man. He was a member of a respected Jewish businessman’s family. The Kastner & Öhler department store co-founded by his father was one of Europe’s first mail-order companies. What is more, as the president of the local football club and a sponsor of football in Graz, Franz Öhler carved out a place for himself in the city’s sports history.
After the “annexation” of Austria by the German Reich, Öhler emigrated to Zagreb. There he came into contact with the resistance. He was arrested in 1941, spent the following years in Austrian prisons and was ultimately acquitted of charges of high treason. The Vienna Gestapo nevertheless committed him to the Buchenwald concentration camp in January 1945.
After the liberation, he volunteered to serve the U.S. investigators as a witness and planned his return home. On 4 May 1945, however – shortly before his departure – Franz Öhler died of the damage dealt to his health by his imprisonment. He had lived to be 57. He was laid to rest in a row of graves on the grounds of the memorial later erected by the German Democratic Republic on the south slope of the Ettersberg.