About Karl Kutschera

Karl Kut­schera com­ple­ted an ap­p­ren­ti­ce­ship in Vi­enna, where he was trai­ned in all areas of ga­stro­nomy. Be­fore mo­ving to Ber­lin in 1900, he worked in Ham­burg at the Hotel Ham­bur­ger Hof and as a ship wai­ter on the Ham­burg — New York route. Several times he tried to land in Ame­rica, but his ef­forts were in vain be­cause he lacked the ne­cessary pa­pers. In 1906 he ope­ned the Cafe Kut­schera in Bis­marck­straße in Ber­lin. In 1907 he took over the ma­nage­ment of the Zat­ter­sall am Kurfürstendamm.

In 1918 he bought the Union-Pa­lais at Kur­für­sten­damm 26 and in 1919 he ope­ned the Café Wien with a con­fec­tion­ery. Café Wien gai­ned in­ter­na­tio­nal re­pu­ta­tion, espe­cially after he was able to con­vert and ex­pand the buil­ding in 1926 ac­cord­ing to his plans, be­cause he had ac­qui­red the pro­perty in 1926.

In 1929 he had the cel­lars ex­ten­ded and in the fol­lo­wing year he ope­ned the re­stau­rant Zi­geuner­kel­ler with Hun­ga­rian cui­sine and „Zi­geu­ner­mu­sik“. Ar­chi­tect Max Abicht was re­spon­si­ble for the con­struc­tion of the gypsy cel­lar. The in­te­rior de­sign was car­ried out by the ca­ri­ca­tu­rist A. M. Cay and the press ar­tist Theo Ma­te­jko. At that time, it was the lar­gest re­stau­rant in terms of sur­face area in Ber­lin below the street level.

Ent­rance to the Ber­lin Apple Store in the for­mer House of Vi­enna on Kurfürstendamm

In the early 1930s, Kut­schera was one of Ber­lin’s best-known ga­stro­no­mes. The wine re­stau­rant Zi­geuner­kel­ler and the Café Wien had an in­ter­na­tio­nal re­pu­ta­tion and were a po­pu­lar mee­ting place for the so­phi­sti­ca­ted Ber­lin. From 1924 to 1937 he also ope­ra­ted the Kur­haus Cla­dow in Ber­lin-Kla­dow, where he also lived.

From 1936 on­wards, Kut­sche­ras and his re­stau­rants be­came vic­tims of anti-Se­mi­tic per­se­cu­tion by the Nazis, which was ac­com­pa­nied by a cam­paign of the Nazi wee­kly Der Stür­mer. The stri­ker de­scri­bed the Café Wien and the gypsy cel­lar as a „Je­wish Do­rado of the Kur­für­sten­damm“. Among others, the Ge­stapo and SD man Hein­rich Ha­mann was re­spon­si­ble for the pro­se­cu­tion of the Nazis. One year and several de­fa­ma­tory ar­ti­cles later, Kut­schera was for­ced to give up. In order to pre­vent the wi­th­dra­wal of his con­ces­sion, he de­ci­ded to lease both com­pa­nies to the non-Je­wish co-part­ners Ernst Krü­ger and Josef Stü­ber. Soon after, the sign „Jews un­de­s­i­ra­ble“ was dis­played above the ent­ran­ces. He had the ope­ra­ting com­pany de­le­ted from the com­mer­cial re­gi­ster shortly af­ter­wards. It was the­re­fore not a boy­cott of his re­stau­rants that for­ced Kut­schera to give up — his com­pany had even been able to re­cord an in­cre­ase in tur­no­ver com­pa­red to the lu­cra­tive Olym­pic year of 1936 — but ra­ther the pres­sure ex­er­ted by the stri­ker on city aut­ho­ri­ties, which was de­cisive for his sup­pres­sion from Ber­lin’s eco­no­mic life. By 1937, its ope­ra­ti­ons had an an­nual tur­no­ver of 1.5 mil­lion Reichs­mark. The com­pany em­ployed 154 em­ployees, in­clu­ding 13 mu­si­ci­ans, ma­king it one of Ber­lin’s most suc­cess­ful restaurants.

Kut­schera wi­th­drew to Kla­dow. The Kut­schera fa­mily was de­por­ted to The­re­si­en­stadt con­cen­tra­tion camp on 19 May 1943. While Karl Kut­schera and his se­cond wife Jo­se­phine sur­vi­ved the con­cen­tra­tion camp, their two child­ren, Karin-Ger­trud (* 1927) and Klaus Ger­hard (* 1926), were mur­de­red in the con­cen­tra­tion camp Auschwitz.

The cou­ple Kut­schera re­tur­ned to Ber­lin in June 1945. In 1946 the Café Wien was reope­ned while the gipsy cel­lar was still under water.

Karl Kut­schera died as ho­no­rary chair­man of the Ber­li­ner Gast­wirt­sin­nung on 19 May 1950, after his death his wife Jo­se­phine con­ti­nued the busi­ness until the be­gin­ning of the 1970s.

From 7 April to 3 May 2013, the in­stal­la­tion by ar­tist Alex­an­der Jöchl „Café Wien — ein Fa­mi­li­en­por­trät“ (Café Vi­enna — A Fa­mily Por­trait) was on dis­play in the show­case of the Deut­sche Bank branch on Kur­für­sten­damm 28. This in­stal­la­tion was the first in a se­ries of eight ar­tis­tic in­stal­la­ti­ons of the pro­ject „Spu­ren, Hohl­räume, Leer­stel­len — Jü­di­sches Leben am Kur­für­sten­damm“. The pro­ject of the In­sti­tute for Art at the Uni­ver­sity of the Arts Ber­lin is being run in coope­ra­tion with the Ar­chive of the Mu­seum Char­lot­ten­burg-Wil­mers­dorf as part of the theme year „De­stroyed Di­ver­sity — Ber­lin 1933 – 1938-1945“.

Literature

Eli­sa­beth Weber: Die Kut­schera-Be­triebe. ”Cafe Wien” und ”Zi­geuner­kel­ler”. In: Chri­stoph Kreutz­mül­ler, Kas­par Nürn­berg (Hrsg.): Ver­ra­ten und ver­kauft – Jü­di­sche Un­ter­neh­men in Ber­lin 1933 – 1945. Ber­lin 2008, ISBN 978 – 3‑00 – 026811‑3, S. 44 – 48.

Chri­stoph Kreutz­mül­ler: Aus­ver­kauf. Die Ver­nich­tung der jü­di­schen Ge­wer­be­tä­tig­keit in Ber­lin 1930 – 1945. Me­tro­pol Ver­lag, Ber­lin 2012, ISBN 978 – 3‑86331 – 080‑6, S. 152.