• Durchlauferhitzer © Technisches Museum Wien
Collection Area
Everyday Life
Inventory No. 1938

Hot-water heater, Godesia B 50 wall-mounted boiler


The Vienna Gas Works often gave the Museum modern gas appliances for their exhibition booth. In August 1938 they delivered a new hot-water heater. The delivery note read: ‘from Ernst Sonnenschein, Annagasse 3, Vienna’s 1st District’.

On 4 August 1938 the inventory of the Technisches Museum Wien recorded under Inv. No. 15.455 a ‘hot-water heater, boiler I compl.’ as a loan from the Municipal Gas Works, Municipality of Vienna. Through a deed of donation with Vienna Gas Works dated 23 March 2007 this object transferred into the ownership of the Technisches Museum Wien.

For a long time in the 1930s, Vienna’s Municipal Gas Works had their own exhibition booth at the Museum, which they used for advertising purposes to showcase the latest gas appliances. They came to the Technisches Museum Wien as loans and, after a while, were then replaced by new appliances. The fact therefore that this hot-water heater was handed over in August 1938 was nothing unusual. What was striking, however, was that the basic data sheet contained a note which read: ‘from Ernst Sonnenschein, 1st District, Annagasse 3a’. Evidently, the appliance had come from the apartment at that address and was therefore the apartment owner’s property.

Registered with the police as residing at the apartment at Annagasse 3a/1/16 was Ernst Sonnenschein, a Jewish merchant born in Vienna on 21 July 1903. Sonnenschein managed to escape abroad from Vienna in September 1938. His mother, Josefine Sonnenschein, born on 17 April 1885, was deported to Maly Trostinets on 14 September 1942 and murdered there on 18 September 1942. All that is known of Ernst Sonnenschein is that he lived in France after war and died there in the 1960s. It is only through the deed of donation that it became possible to restitute the exhibit as, according to the wording of the law, only exhibits owned by the Austrian state fall under the Art Restitution Act. In 2011 a distant living relative of Ernst Sonnenschein’s was located in the federal province of Lower Austria. The heir agreed that the Technisches Museum Wien could buy back the hot-water heater, subject to an expert’s valuation. And so the hot-water heater remains on show at the permanent exhibition entitled ‘Everyday Life – Directions for Use’, but now with an additional information reflecting its chequered history.

Inv.Nr. 15455
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