Café As. The Survival of Simon Wiesenthal

  • design
  • holocaust
  • cultural history
  • history
  • art
  • graphic design
  • architecture
  • drawing & prints

Simon Wiesenthal is known today as the man who devoted his life to justice for the victims of the Shoah. His profession as an architect, which he pursued until his persecution by the Nazi regime, has largely been forgotten. During his internment at the Mauthausen concentration camp in 1945, Wiesenthal got to know the Polish prisoner Edmund Staniszewski, who repeatedly slipped him some food and thus saved Wiesenthal’s life.

The end of the war was already foreseeable. Staniszewski hoped to open a coffee house in Poznán and asked Wiesenthal for ideas. Wiesenthal made the first sketches while still at the camp. In the weeks following the liberation, he perfected them into drawings. Simon Wiesenthal designed exterior and interior views, clothing for the staff, as well as advertising posters—similar to today’s “corporate identity”.

Yet the establishment of “Café As” (“Café Ace”) never came to be. The more than 80 highly detailed designs were acquired by the Jewish Museum Vienna with the support of the “US Friends of the Jewish Museum Vienna.” A unique, significant testimony of survival in the murderous system of National Socialism.