Fritz Zweigelt

Friedrich (Fritz) Zweigelt (born 13 January 1888 in Hitzendorf near Graz, died 18 September 1964 in Graz) was an Austrian entomologist and phytologist. Zweigelt was one of the most influential and internationally renowned figures in Austrian wine growing between 1921 and 1945. He was Head of State Vine Cultivation during the period of the First Austrian Republic and also acted as Director of the School of Viticulture and Horticulture in Klosterneuburg near Vienna. The grape variety "Blauer Zweigelt" is named after him. Blauer Zweigelt is grown across an area of some 6,400 hectares in Austria, making it by far the most significant red wine grape cultivated in the country. Zweigelt's National Socialist sympathies and activities did not come to the attention of the public for some decades.[1]

Friedrich Zweigelt
Born(1888-01-13)13 January 1888
Died18 September 1964(1964-09-18) (aged 76)
Alma materUniversity of Graz
Known forBreeding the Zweigelt and Blauburger grapevines
Scientific career



Friedrich Zweigelt was born in Hitzendorf near Graz in Styria on 13 January 1888.[2] In 1912, he entered the services of the Imperial School of Viticulture and Horticulture in Klosterneuburg near Vienna, Austria's first and only state-owned vine cultivation station.[3] After gaining a doctorate in entomology,[4] he was appointed Head of this institute in 1921.[5] Zweigelt's first crossings (undertaken from 1921) included a seedling given the cultivation number 71 (St. Laurent x Blaufränkisch). This particular hybrid proved highly promising from an early stage.[6] In 1922, Zweigelt also successfully crossed Welschriesling with Orangetraube (creating a variety which was to be included in the Austrian Grape Variety Index for Qualitätsweine (Quality Wines) as "Goldburger" in 1978[7]). This was followed by a Blauer Portugieser x Blaufränkisch crossing in 1923 (added to the Austrian Grape Variety Index for Qualitätsweine (Quality Wines) as "Blauburger" in 1978[7]).

Zweigelt had also been editing the journal Das Weinland since 1929. There was soon no other viticulture specialist in Austria who enjoyed better international connections and renown.[8] From the late 1920s onwards, Zweigelt began to join forces with all leading experts from Europe's major wine growing countries[9] to promote the production of quality wine and to try to stem the cultivation of so-called direct producers.[10] His book on direct producers, co-authored with Albert Stummer (Nikolsburg), remains a standard work right down to the present day.[11]


Zweigelt was a strong German nationalist who was deeply opposed to clericalism.[12] He saw himself as a "borderer",[13] and began to view Nazi Germany as a place of yearning after 1933. Zweigelt joined the Austrian NSDAP and remained loyal to the party, even during the period when it was banned.[14]

Following the annexation of Austria in March 1938, it seemed that Zweigelt's dream was about to become true. He would be able to lead "his" Klosterneuburg to new heights as a sister institute to the much larger State School of Viticulture, Fruit Growing and Horticulture in Geisenheim am Rhein.[15] In his capacity as Head and subsequently (after 1943) Director of Klosterneuburg,[16] Zweigelt did everything he possibly could to turn the institute into a "stronghold of National Socialism".[17] However, he began to be caught between the different fronts. Adherents of the Austro-Fascist Dollfuß-Schuschnigg regime were keen to prevent his rise, and they were not alone in this aspiration. Zweigelt also found himself in the way of other rival colleagues who had only recently embraced the ideas of National Socialism. However, during the summer of 1938, he succeeded in forcing numerous undesirable teaching staff members to leave the school. These were then replaced by dyed-in-the-wool National Socialists.[18] The Nazi Government in Germany adopted the most progressive viticulture policies in the world and soon gained international recognition. The culmination and end of this development occurred at an international viticulture congress staged in Bad Kreuznach in late August 1939.[19] Zweigelt, now elevated to the status of Reich Official, was one of the participants.

Despite numerous personal disappointments, Zweigelt clung firmly to his National Socialist convictions until 1945. He often expressed such views to his pupil body in addresses that were full of drastic warlike rhetoric.[20] "Das Weinland", the journal he edited, had been the mouthpiece of Austrian viticulture since 1929. In 1943, however, publication ceased by order of the Reichsnährstand (a government body set up in Nazi Germany to regulate food production) in Berlin.[21] Zweigelt's only son Rudolf was conscripted into the German army upon completion of his medical studies. He was killed in East Prussia in 1944, and Zweigelt would never get over his death.[22]

After 1945Edit

After the collapse of the Third Reich, Zweigelt was held in a detention camp in Klosterneuburg. During this time of imprisonment, he portrayed himself as an idealist who had been led astray.[23] Nevertheless, after various sessions of questioning and examinations of witnesses, criminal proceedings were instigated against Zweigelt at the end of 1945. He was summoned to stand trial at the Volksgericht in Vienna ("Volksgerichte" were special courts set up in Austria after the Second World War to deal with crimes committed under National Socialism).[24] A pupil named Josef Bauer (born in 1920) had been arrested by the Gestapo for being a member of the "Austrian Freedom Movement", a group founded by Roman Scholz, an Augustinian canon regular at Klosterneuburg.[25] Bauer had then been expelled from the institute,[26] but this circumstance was not mentioned by anyone at the time.[27]

In 1948, Federal President Karl Renner (SPÖ) ordered that the criminal proceedings pending against Friedrich Zweigelt should be discontinued and that Zweigelt should be pardoned.[28] He was thus deemed to have been a "lesser offender",[29] but did not return to employment in the public sector because of his advanced age. Zweigelt spent his final years in Graz, where he died on 18 September 1964 some years after the death of his wife Friederike (Fritzi).[30] He was buried on the St. Peter City Cemetery in Graz.

Starting in 2002, an annual Dr. Fritz Zweigelt Wine Tasting Prize was awarded to estates in the Kamptal Region. This prize was last conferred in 2015, after which time it was discontinued in the wake of severe criticism.

The "Zweigelt" grape varietyEdit

Zweigelt's long-standing staff members Paul Steingruber and Leopold Müller resurrected vine cultivation at Klosterneuburg after the war and went on to produce an outstanding St. Laurent x Blaufränkisch crossing. This was described as being "of a magnificent colour, with an excellent taste and smell, a splendid red wine variety."[31] Zweigelt's pupil and admirer Lenz Moser propagated the plant material at his vine nursery and introduced self-rooted cuttings onto the sales market from 1960 onwards.[32]

The official designation "Zweigeltrebe Blau" appeared for the first time in 1972, when the new Grape Variety Index for Qualitätsweine (Quality Wines) was launched.[33] The name of the variety was altered to "Blauer Zweigelt" in 1978.[34] At the request of the School of Viticulture and Horticulture in Klosterneuburg, the synonym "Rotburger" was created at the same time. The aim here was to make it clear that the new cultivations of Blauburger, Goldburger and Rotburger/Blauer Zweigelt all shared a common origin.[35] The "Institut ohne direkte Eigenschaften" (lit. "institute without direct characteristcs", an Austrian artist collective) made a proposal in 2018 to rename the grape variety to "Blauer Montag" (lit. "Blue Monday") – alluding to Zweigelts national socialist past.[36]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Erfolgsgeschichte mit dunklen Flecken: " Zweigelt – Wein und Wahrheit" präsentiert. (Memento of the original film of 4 March 2016 in the Internet Archive) In: ORF 2011, accessed on 20 November 2014.
  2. ^ Personnel file Dr. Friedrich Zweigelt, questionnaire of 23 July 1941, BArch R 3601/6340 Sheet 14.
  3. ^ Friedrich Zweigelt, curriculum vitae of 9 January 1912 (personnel file, Austrian Ministry of Agriculture, ÖMinLW). See also Friedrich Zweigelt, Von den Höhepunkten meines Lebens – Werk und Freude, in: Zeitschrift für angewandte Entomologie 54 (1964), pp. 13-21.
  4. ^ Wilhelm Zwölfer, Laudatio, in: Zeitschrift für angewandte Entomologie Vol. 54 (1964), pp. 11-13.
  5. ^ For more information on the eventful history of the oldest school of viticulture in the German speaking countries, cf. "Programm und Jahresbericht der k.k. höheren Lehranstalt für Wein- und Obstbau in Klosterneuburg, zugleich Jubiläumsschrift anläßlich ihres 50jährigen Bestehens" (Vienna 1910), "Denkschrift zur 70jährigen Bestandesfeier der Höheren Bundes-Lehranstalt und Bundesversuchsstation für Wein-, Obst- und Gartenbau in Klosterneuburg" (Klosterneuburg 1939), and Emil Planck, "90 Jahre Höhere Bundes-Lehranstalt und Versuchsanstalt für Wein-, Obst- und Gartenbau Klosterneuburg. Jahresbericht 1945-50. Fünf Jahre Wiederaufbau" (Klosterneuburg 1950).
  6. ^ Fritz Zweigelt, Der gegenwärtige Stand der Klosterneuburger Züchtungen (autumn 1924), special edition of the „Allgemeine Wein-Zeitung" 41 (1924) and 42 (1925). The aims of the cultivation were to achieve early ripeness and quality. Blütefestigkeit, Fäulnisfestigkeit, Ertrag, Qualität, Reblausfestigkeit oder Peronosporafestigkeit; Paul Steingruber, Dreißig Jahre Rebenzüchtung an der Höheren Bundes-Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt für Wein-, Obst- und Gartenbau in Klosterneuburg, in: Mitteilungen 1 (1951), p. 45, p. 89 and p. 135.
  7. ^ a b Ordinance of the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of 20 September 1978 (Federal Law Gazette No. 517/1978)
  8. ^ Franz Wobisch, Dr. Zweigelt – zu seinem 70. Geburtstag, in: Österreichische Weinzeitung 13 (1958), Issue 1.
  9. ^ Cf. the report made to the International Wine and Viticulture Congress in Conegliano, probably written by Zweigelt himself, in: Allgemeine Wein-Zeitung 44 (1927), pp. 188–190.
  10. ^ Friedrich Zweigelt, Die Ertragshybriden und ihre Bedeutung für den europäischen Weinbau, in: Internationale Landwirtschaftliche Rundschau. Part I: Agrikulturwissenschaftliche Monatsschrift, Rome, March 1930, No. 3. This also contains a concise summary of the cultivation of direct producers in all European wine growing countries. Zweigelt published a highly informative report on "Prüfung von Hybridenweinen in Klosterneuburg" in Das Weinland 3 (1932), pp. 19-21. Similar and comprehensive treatments may also be found in Das Weinland 5 (1933), pp. 29-33, pp. 68-71, p. 103, pp. 213-215, pp. 250-254, pp. 291-295 and pp. 367-372.
  11. ^ Albert Stummer/Friedrich Zweigelt, Die Direktträger, Vienna 1929. The book received several plaudits, including a prize awarded by the International Wine Office (Paris). See Das Weinland 5 (1933), p. 10.
  12. ^ Senior civil servant Dr. Fritz Zweigelt (undated self-disclosure, presumably 1938), Volksgericht file Vienna City and State Archive Vg 2e Vr 3281/45 Supplement 1.
  13. ^ Zweigelt himself on the Austrians in general: Dem Führer Dank und Gelöbnis, in: Das Weinland 11 (1939), p. 109. On himself: "Borderers know more about the worries and dangers of foreign infiltration. After all, they have experienced the humiliation of deprivation of privileges, mistrust and constant betrayal of their national rights without interruption. This makes them tougher and more receptive than others who live in a closed and landlocked state and have never had to fight for their national rights." Fritz Zweigelt, In celebration of 13 March 1941, typed statement in: Volksgericht file Vg 2e Vr 3281/45, Sheets 147-169, citation Sheets 148 ff.
  14. ^ Interview/written record, Vienna Police Department/State Police Group XXVI, 6 July 1945, Volksgericht file Vienna City and State Archive Vg 2e Vr 3281/45. Sheets 21-22.
  15. ^ Friedrich Zweigelt, Zu neuer Arbeit, in: Der deutsche Weinbau 17 (1938), pp. 391-393.
  16. ^ A decree issued by the Reich Ministry of Food and Agriculture on 28 May 1941 made Zweigelt the "Permanent Head" of the Testing and Research Institute with retrospective effect from 1 April 1941. (Personnel file, Austrian Ministry of Agriculture, ÖMinLW Sheet 40). Appointment to the position of Director followed on 27 May 1942. Ibid. Sheet 61.
  17. ^ Heinrich Konlechner, Dr. Fritz Zweigelt. 30 Jahre an der Klosterneuburger Lehranstalt tätig, Das Weinland 14 (1942), p. 41.
  18. ^ Volksgericht file Vienna City and State Archive Vg 2e Vr 3281/45.
  19. ^ Cf. Daniel Deckers, Im Zeichen des Traubenadlers. Eine Geschichte des deutschen Wein, Mainz 2010/2. Frankfurt edition 2018, pp. 109-147. For Austria, see Ernst Langthaler, Weinbau im Nationalsozialismus, in: Willi Klinger/Karl Vocelka (editors), Wine in Austria. The History, Vienna 2019, pp. 206-212.
  20. ^ Archive of the Federal Institute of Viticulture and Fruit Production in Klosterneuburg, Dr. Fritz Zweigelt – personal papers.
  21. ^ Cf. correspondence between Zweigelt and the Reichsnährstand in Berlin. Archive of the Federal Institute of Viticulture and Fruit Production in Klosterneuburg, Dr. Fritz Zweigelt – personal papers.
  22. ^ Verbal information provided by Thomas Leithner, Langenlois, great-grandson.
  23. ^ Personnel file, Austrian Ministry of Agriculture, ÖMinLW.
  24. ^ Volksgericht file Vienna City and State Archive Vg 2e Vr 3281/45.
  25. ^ For information on Roman K. Scholz, Klosterneuburg and the Austrian Resistance cf. in particular: Das Geheimnis der Erlösung als Erinnerung, Herausgegeben aus Anlass der Enthüllung einer Gedenktafel für Roman Karl Scholz and "Österreichische Freiheitsbewegung", Klosterburg, year of publication not stated. Cf. also a book written by Scholz's pupil Grete Huber-Gergasevicis, Roman Karl Scholz, Klosterneuburg 2010. This work was very much influenced by her personal acquaintance with Scholz.
  26. ^ Josef Bauer was taken into custody in June 1940, just after Scholz's own arrest. A copy (dated 25 September 1945) of the minutes of a teachers' staff meeting held on 28 August 1940 has been retained in the Documentary Archive of the Austrian Resistance (DÖW) in Vienna together with various other files relating to the Roman K. Scholz case.
  27. ^ Neither the Volksgericht file Vienna City and State Archive Vg 2e Vr 3281/45, nor the act of clemency held in the records of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Justice (ÖStA BMJ, Section IV, VI-d, 31.212-49) nor indeed Zweigelt's personal file at the Austrian Ministry of Agriculture contains any indication that Zweigelt was pursued any further because of these events.
  28. ^ ÖStA Federal Ministry of Justice, BMJ, Section IV, VI-d, 31.212-49. For a portrayal of Renner as the "personification of typically Austrian behaviour", cf. Oliver Rathkolb, Die paradoxe Republik. Österreich 1945 bis 2005, Vienna 2005, pp. 157-163.
  29. ^ Municipal Authority Office for the 19th District of Vienna, certification of 18 February 1948, personnel file, Austrian Ministry of Agriculture, ÖMinLW.
  30. ^ Viktor Richter, Prof. Dr. Fritz Zweigelt (1888-1964) +, in: Zeitschrift für angewandte Entomologie, Vol. 55 (1964-1965), pp. 100-101. Zweigelt's last recorded public utterance is a speech of thanks he gave in 1963 after being awarded the Karl Escherich Medal. Zweigelt, Von den Höhepunkten meines Lebens – Werk und Freude, in: Zeitschrift für angewandte Entomologie 54 (1964), pp. 13-21.
  31. ^ Paul Steingruber/Leopold Müllner, Dreißig Jahre Rebenzüchtung III, in: Mitteilungen der Höheren Bundeslehr- und Versuchsanstalten für Wein-, Obst- und Gartenbau Klosterneuburg und für Bienenkunde Wien-Grinzing 1 (1951), pp. 135-138.
  32. ^ Lenz Moser, from 1960: Zweigelt-Kreuzungen im Verkauf, in: Österreichische Weinzeitung 13 (1958), Issue 2, p. 11.
  33. ^ Ordinance of the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of 26 November 1971 (Federal Law Gazette No. 2/1972).
  34. ^ Ordinance of the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of 20 September 1978 (Federal Law Gazette No. 517/1978).
  35. ^ Verbal explanation provided by Josef Weiss, Director of the Federal Institute of Viticulture and Fruit Production in Klosterneuburg for many years.
  36. ^ NS-Vergangenheit: Zweigelt soll umbenannt werden, ORF, 10. Dezember 2018, retrieved on 24 April 2020.

Further readingEdit

  • Daniel Deckers: Im Zeichen des Traubenadlers. Eine Geschichte des deutschen Weins. Mainz 2010 (2nd edition Frankfurt/M. 2018), ISBN 978-3805342483.
  • Daniel Deckers: Friedrich Zweigelt im Spiegel zeitgenössischer Quellen. In: Willi Klinger, Karl Vocelka (editors): Wein in Österreich. Die Geschichte. Vienna 2019, ISBN 978-3-7106-0350-1, S. 213–225.
  • Ernst Langthaler: Weinbau im Nationalsozialismus, in: Willi Klinger, Karl Vocelka (editors): Wein in Österreich. Die Geschichte. Vienna 2019, ISBN 978-3-7106-0350-1, S. 206–212.

External linksEdit