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Collecting – Preserving – Remembering
Hugo Frank Basch
Hugo Basch
Hugo Frank Basch was born on March 7, 1888, in Vienna, Austria. After having finished his studies at the Technical University in Vienna he became an engineer and worked as a government surveyor of building and construction for the city of Vienna. But theatre and poetry were a passion with him. As one of the closest friends of the composer Egon Lustgarten he wrote the libretto for Lustgarten’s opera Dante im Exil.
In 1938, after Hitler’s annexation of Austria, Hugo Basch was deported to the Dachau concentration camp because of his social-democratic attitude. But General Mackensen stood up for him and insisted, that all those who had been wounded during World War I should be released from Dachau. Hugo Basch, who was injured while fighting as a lieutenant in the Carpathian Mountains, was set free, but had to leave the country within 24 hours. During this time he was forbidden to tell anyone about his experience in Dachau. The camp’s commander said to him, that once he was out of the country he could tell anything he liked, since nobody would believe any of his stories anyway.
The Quakers helped Hugo Basch, his wife Hermine and their son Peter to leave Austria. First the family went to England, and in 1940 they moved to the United States of America. Out of gratitude for the humanitarian aid which the Quakers had given to them, Hermine Basch became a Quaker herself.
In the United States, Hugo Basch subsequently continued writing and regularly published poems in English in various newspapers and magazines.
In 1950 Hugo Basch briefly considered returning to his native Austria. The city of Vienna even offered him to work in his old position. But the beginning of the Korean War ruined those ideas: Since he held several important patents in the area of aircraft technique, Hugo Basch was afraid that the Russians might arrest him in Vienna. On September 13, 1957, he died on Fire Island, New York.

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