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Karl Maria Stepan

Appeal Over Mystery of British Embassy Vienna Pics From 1938

A British hobby historian and photographer is appealing for help in tracking down background to a series of 70 black and white pictures taken by a British embassy employee in Austria sometime around 1938.

Ken Johnston, who lives in North West England, is a company director, but he's also somebody who in his spare time has an interest in history and photography.

So when he came across three film canisters that a friend of his owned which had belonged to the man's father and which apparently had never been opened he decided to develop them, and ended up with 70 black and white pictures of which he had no knowledge of their past.

But he is keen to find out. What he does know is that the man who owned them and who probably took them had worked at the British Embassy shortly before the war started, and he believes that they were all taken in Graz in March or April 1938.

The only person that he has been able to identify so far was that one of the pictures shows Karl Maria Stepan. If this was taken before the war, then it shows the concentration camp survivor, prominent anti Nazi and later founder of Styria Medien AG at a time when the horror he was to expereince was yet to happen. A time when he was still a leading politician and a promient member of the Catholic community who was later to be arrested by the Nazis.

Another photo shows a group of people standing in what looks like a factory area.

He said: "There is a sign on the gate which I have managed to identify and is now at 102/105 Korosistrasse, Graz."

Many of the pictures are of people at a Grand Ball which may have been a "Winterhilfe Ball" although Ken admits this is pretty much based on speculation.

He added: "I find these pictures of great interest and wonder who the people might be, and wonder if many of them have relatives still living in Graz?

"I would like to do is to make contact with a local historian in Graz to collaborate with me in trying to identify the people and would welcome it if anybody were to get in touch with me should they be interested."

To contact Ken, please write to the editorial team on newsdesk@cen.at

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