Dr Johann Nelböck (1903–1954) was a former student of Moritz Schlick, the founder of the group of philosophers and scientists known as the Vienna Circle.

On June 22, 1936, Nelböck, who had already twice been committed to a psychiatric ward for threatening Schlick, shot him in the chest and killed him on the central staircase of the University of Vienna.

Although a German Protestant from minor Prussian nobility, Schlick was subsequently characterized in the press as a pivotal figure in disaffected Jewish circles, and the murder was applauded by Vienna's Nazis, immediately becoming a cause célèbre.

At Nelböck's trial for the murder of Schlick, besides some allegations of personal injuries, a significant part of his defence was the claim that Schlick's philosophical arguments had undermined his native moral restraints, a line of thought which Austrian Nazis, asserting Schlick's Jewish connections within the Vienna Circle, quickly developed and exploited, although not entirely without protest.[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_1]

Nelböck was found guilty and sentenced to ten years' imprisonment, but was paroled after two. He became a member of the Austrian Nazi Party after the Anschluss (the unification of Germany with Austria) in 1938.


  1. ^  (German) Correspondence for and against Schlick, reproduced from Stadler (see below)

External links


  • Stadler, Friedrich: Die andere Kulturgeschichte am Beispiel von Emigration und Exil der österreichischen Intellektuellen 1930 - 1940, in: Michael Gehler/ Rolf Steininger (eds.): Österreich im 20. Jahrhundert. Ein Studienbuch in zwei Bänden. Von der Monarchie bis zum Zweiten Weltkrieg (Böhlau-Studien-Bücher. Grundlagen des Studiums), Wien-Köln-Weimar 1997, S.535-553.

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