A prominent Jewish historian in Austria has been jailed for fraud after excluding an aunt in an application for Holocaust reparations, listing only his mother as heir.

Stephan Templ

Stephan Templ

Stephan Templ, who catalogued hundreds of Jewish-owned properties and assets seized by the Nazis but never returned, was jailed in Vienna on Monday. He had originally been given three years but this was reduced to 12 months on appeal.

Supporters have cried foul, however, suggesting the case was politically-motivated revenge for Templ’s 2001 book, which triggered a wave of legal claims against the Austrian state from around the world. 

Templ was found guilty of trying to defraud the state after making a restitution claim ten years ago. The property at the centre of the claim – a huge and elegant 19th century villa in the city centre – was once a clinic belonging to Templ’s grandmother’s cousin, who killed himself after being humiliated by the Nazis and forced to clean the pavement with a toothbrush.

Templ, 54, omitted his aunt’s name from the application, listing only his mother Helene, now 82, as heir. It was only when notaries contacted Elisabeth Kretschmar, Helene’s sister, about the application deadline, that concerns were raised.