Skip to main content

New Collections: Viennese Confections, Restitution, and Literature

Fri, Oct 1, 2021

Hans (John) Heller kept a serious household - which became a meeting place for Viennese intellectuals and artists. His day job, as the executive of his family’s candy company, was all about the serious business of fun.

Artist, author, businessman, and thinker: the papers of Austrian-born Hans (John) Heller (1896–1987) describe his rich career in Austria, England and in the United States. Between the World Wars, Heller worked in his family’s famous candy business, “G.&W. Heller”, and at the same time his home was a center for liberal intellectuals, artists, and Freudian analysts. Heller was a writer himself; he contributed to periodicals such as Die Weltbuehne and published one of the first anti-Nazi novels, Ein Mann Sucht Seine Heimat (A Man in Search of His Homeland) in 1936.

Heller fled Austria after the Anschluss, ultimately arriving in the US, where he reestablished the Heller Candy Company, producing hard, filled candies. The collection contains Heller’s memoirs and manuscripts of his literary oeuvre, as well as papers documenting the Heller Candy Companies in Vienna, Liverpool, New York City, and Paterson, NJ. Of particular note in this regard are detailed descriptions of the company’s pioneering use of automation in its Vienna factory and its generous benefits for employees, which included a cafeteria, swimming pool, and a resort in Prein near the Rax mountains. Like many collections related to Jewish entrepreneurs and business owners, it includes extensive documentation of the expropriation and “Aryanization” of the fi rm as well as the ensuing legal and financial matters in the post-WWII period. The collection has been fully processed and digitized.

From LBI News 112