This method was first used against Moritz Kuffner, the brewery owner and benefactor of the Ottokring Synagogue. Kuffner and his son Stephan were arrested in April 1938 by the Gestapo to accelerate the sale of their brewery, their shares in the Reitler & Company Bank, and extensive property holdings. Known as the Kuffner’schen Brauerei,
the brewery had founding capital in 1905 of nearly 10 million Kronen and by 1913, produced as much as 13,200 gallons of beer at a facility encompassing 40,000 square meters.
Gustav Harmer was able to purchase the corporation far below its market value, just 14 million Schlling. The Austrian government approved the sale, although they eventually fined Harmer 3 million RM for attempting to camouflage the purchase from its former Jewish owner. The sale enabled Moritz and members of his family to flee to Switzerland via Czechoslovakia in July 1938 and pay the 3 million RM exit tax. But Moritz would never have accepted such a low price, were it not for their arrest.Annexation and the Dichter Family
The seizure of the Dichter family assets was distressing, but no amount of money could ever compensate for the devastating violence and trauma that the Nazis inflicted on his family. Weeks after his father’s arrest, Walter received a letter from his father requesting money, alerting the family to the fact that he had been shipped to the Dachau Concentration Camp, 270 miles away from his beloved Vienna. The existence of the concentration camps was not a state secret: as early as April 1933, the Furher Anzeiger
newspaper published a short story about three Communists who had been shot while attempting to escape Dachau and the April 23, issue of the New York Times
confirmed the deaths. It was publicly announced in the Vossische Zeitung
that there were 10,000 people imprisoned in Prussia by March 31, 1933. As historian Timothy Ryback has argued, these disclosures of incarcerations in concentration camps were designed to create fear and keep the population complacent. 
Walter, just eighteen years old at the time, was responsible from obtaining funds from the family’s blocked bank account. A bribe payment had initially enabled his father’s release from Karajangasse prison, but he was rearrested in May 1938 and a second letter in 1939 informed the family he had been sent to Buchenwald. Walter did not see his father again until 1946.
Walter also became responsible for caring for his mother and eleven year old sister Edith and struggled to find the family housing, since Topolansky assumed possession of the family apartment above the store when he took over the department store.
Some remaining family members moved to the summer villa in Bad Sauerbrunn but were forced to relocate when it was appropriated to become the local Nazi headquarters. Walter successfully obtained 400 RM from the blocked bank account, enabling him to secure housing in a two-bedroom unit in the Pension Athens. The funds also enabled Walter to obtain care for his mother at the Helia Sanatorium, because her mental health declined significantly after her husband’s detention.
Unfortunately, by February 1939, Walter’s family could no longer pay their rent at the pension and they moved in with his paternal grandmother, Hannah Aptowitzer.
The sanatorium proved insufficient treatment for Walter’s mother, Mina Dichter, and she took her own life. The Nazi annexation of Austria had a profound impact on the Jewish population, who had previously imagined they were safe from the persecution suffered by their brethren in Third Reich Germany. Mina’s act of desperation was imitated by all-too-many other distraught Jewish citizens.
Then in March 1939, the family received the first bit of good news. Uncle David Rattner, one of the few family members who had been able to escape to England, had obtained visas for Walter and his sister through an English aid organization and secured the release of Walter’s father from Buchenwald.
On March 15, 1939, the day before his visa would have expired, Walter and Edith left Austria from Vienna’s South Station. Their father Michael Aptowitzer followed in May but was classified as an enemy alien upon his arrival in England and detained on the Isle of Man. Grandmother Hannah Aptowitzer was sent to Theresienstadt in 1942 and later died in the Treblinka extermination camp.
Leopold Dichter’s granddaughter Fanny had married Abraham Pritzker, making the Chicago-based Pritzker family related to Walter by marriage. Robert and Donald Pritzker were co-founders of the Hyatt Hotels, who provided an affidavit to the American Government, guaranteeing that Leopold, Walter and Esther would not become a financial burden on the United States if allowed to immigrate. They soon left England and settled in Chicago, where Walter began working as a furrier.
A few years later, Walter moved to Los Angeles to resume his musical education. Seeking Restitution
After the war's end, Viennese Jews mobilized efforts to seek restitution of their businesses, apartments and building plots. The Austrian Historical Commission employed a research team under University of Vienna Cultural Historian Gerhard Melinz to investigate what became of seized Viennese properties. The team investigated 670 real estate parcels owned by 1,178 former Jewish citizens. It is known that 264 of those researched were killed. A disproportionate number were elderly, who attempted to remain in Vienna whereas younger adults fled. From many other proprietors no trace could be found, leading to the conclusion that they too had been murdered during the Holocaust. More than 400 of the 1,178 were able to flee, several remained in the capital protected by non-Jewish spouses and 21 returned to Vienna from concentration camps. Between 1946 and 1963, 747 former Viennese residents had their homes or acreage restored to them. Of these post-war recipients, only 82 were at the time living in post-war Austria. More than one-third decided to remain in their new homes in the United States, Great Britain, Israel and Australia. This geographical distance hindered their ability to receive restitution, as did the Austrian courts' decision that the displaced Jewish people needed to repay the purchase prices paid by Aryans in 1938. Many other Jewish refugees did not have the financial means to pay for lengthy legal procedures.
Edmund Topolansky retained possession of the Dichter Department Store until 1949, using its continued profits to balance the books of his bankrupt bank. But eventually his bank went under and he sold the store for just 20,000 Marks to Oskar Seidenglanz who, like Topolanksy had Aryanized Jewish-owned businesses during the annexation. Edmund Topolansky eventually “shot himself” in prison in 1955. But Oskar Seidenglanz continued to operate the store under the name “OSEI” (a contraction of his name) until 2003.
Walter Arlen's grandfather asked him to investigate the possibility of reclaiming the Dichter building in Vienna in a restitution case in 1952. Unfortunately, Walter’s new career as a music critic, together with the combined assets of the extended Dichter family, were insufficient to file legal proceedings in order to be able to reclaim the department store. To this day, the Dichter family has never received any compensation for the crimes committed against their family.