born March 16, 1904
Leo Mistinger, Flossenbürg concentration camp Political Division identification photo, 1944 (private collection)
Leo Mistinger came from a Viennese working-class family. He took part in the Socialist movement from a young age. After completing an apprenticeship as a printer, he attended the Austrian Workers’ College. In 1934, he began his support for the underground Revolutionary Socialists, who fought against the authoritarian Dollfuß regime. He later worked for the railroad and participated in anti-fascist activities organized by illegal factory resistance groups.
In 1943, the Gestapo arrested Mistinger because his family had sheltered Communists who were wanted by the police. The family was accused of high treason. After spending eight months in custody, Mistinger was deported to the Flossenbürg concentration camp. Mistinger was forced to work in aircraft production for Messerschmitt at the nearby Altenhammer subcamp. Fearing a typhoid outbreak, the SS left him and about 1,500 sick prisoners behind at Flossenbürg when they cleared the main camp. Here, Mistinger witnessed the arrival of the US Army. “The tears poured down my face, as though I were having a nervous breakdown, because I knew that I had survived and that I was going home.”
Leo Mistinger (right) together with other Austrians in Flossenbürg after liberation, 1945 (Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance, Vienna)
Back in Vienna, he represented the Socialist Party of Austria in his local municipal council and in the state parliament from 1945 to 1963. Leo Mistinger died at the age of ninety-seven on April 3, 2001.