Anton Graf von Arco auf Valley

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Anton Graf von Arco auf Valley
Born(1897-02-05)5 February 1897
Sankt Martin im Innkreis, Upper Austria, Austria-Hungary
Died29 June 1945(1945-06-29) (aged 48)
Salzburg, Allied-occupied Austria
Allegiance German Empire
Service/branch Imperial German Army
Known forAssassinating Kurt Eisner
Battles/warsWorld War I

Anton von Padua Alfred Emil Hubert Georg Graf von Arco auf Valley (5 February 1897 – 29 June 1945), commonly known as Anton Arco-Valley, was a German far-right activist, Bavarian nationalist and nobleman. He assassinated socialist Bavarian prime minister Kurt Eisner, the first premier of the People's State of Bavaria, on 21 February 1919.

Early life[edit]

Anton Arco-Valley was born in Sankt Martin im Innkreis in Upper Austria. His father Maximilian (1849–1911) was a businessman and estate owner, whose elder sister had married John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton. Anton's mother, Emily Freiin von Oppenheim (1869–1957), was from a wealthy Jewish banking family. The ancestral home of the old noble family of Arco was the Arco Castle north of Lake Garda in Trentino.[citation needed] His family had lived in Germany for centuries. His noble title was no longer officially recognised by the post-1918 First Austrian Republic.

After serving with a Bavarian regiment, the Royal Bavarian Infantry Lifeguards Regiment, in the last year of World War I, Anton returned from the front as an angry and disillusioned combat veteran. He was an Austrian citizen by birth who later had adopted Germany as his home and he enrolled at Munich University. As a German nationalist and an aristocrat, a monarchist and a proclaimed anti-Semite despite his mother's Jewish ancestry, Anton detested Eisner, the Secular Jewish leader of the socialist Independent Social Democratic Party and Premier of the People's State of Bavaria.[1]

"Eisner is a Bolshevist, a Jew; he isn't German, he doesn't feel German, he subverts all patriotic thoughts and feelings. He is a traitor to this land."

— Anton Graf von Arco auf Valley.

Assassination of Eisner[edit]

Arco-Valley may have decided to assassinate Eisner to prove himself "worthy" after being rejected for membership in the ultra-nationalist and Germanic neo-Pagan cult, the Thule Society, because he was of Jewish descent.[2][3][4][5]

On 21 February 1919, on a Munich street, von Arco-Valley, acting alone, gunned down Eisner. Eisner's bodyguards immediately shot Arco, critically injuring him: Arco was in danger of suffocating from the bleeding from a shot in the neck.[6][7]

The killing of Eisner made von Arco-Valley a hero to the far right. His fellow students at the University publicly proclaimed him such. However his action triggered retaliation by socialists, communists and anarchists throughout Munich, during which a number of people were killed, including Prince Gustav of Thurn and Taxis. After internal fighting broke out within the government the Marxist-Leninist Bavarian Soviet Republic was established. Arco-Valley inspired the young Joseph Goebbels, who was in Munich at the time.[8][7]

"Eisner's death," as Hitler would later write in Mein Kampf, "only hastened developments and led finally to the Soviet dictatorship, or to put it more correctly, to a passing rule of Jews, as had been the original aim of the instigators of the whole revolution."[9] In reality, Adolf Hitler was, according to both archival records found in Munich and newsreel footage showing him as a mourner wearing a black armband at Kurt Eisner's funeral, a supporter of the Far Left Bavarian Republic and only switched to supporting the Far Right after the Republic's subsequent defeat by the White Guard and the Freikorps.[10][11][12]

Arco-Valley was tried for murder in January 1920. He was found guilty and sentenced to death. The Public Prosecutor said of him, "If the whole German youth were imbued with such a glowing enthusiasm we could face the future with confidence."[13] The surgeon who'd operated on Arco-Valley, Ferdinand Sauerbruch, also praised him:[14]

"For me there is no doubt that this man committed this deed out of a conviction that he was thereby doing his Fatherland a service. If only one single person in the Revolution had done this work with such clean hands."

Judge Georg Neithardt was also sympathetic:

"Of course, there could be no question of a deprivation of civil rights, because the actions of the young politically immature man did not arise from base sentiments, but from ardent love for his people and fatherland, and were the result of the indignation against Eisner that prevailed in wide circles of the population."[14]

Following sentencing, von Arco-Valley made anti-communist and nationalistic statements to the court. In response, the entire courtroom broke into applause, lasting for minutes. The following day, the Bavarian government, under Justice Minister and German Democratic Party politician Ernst Müller-Meiningen, passed a unanimous resolution commuting Arco's sentence to life imprisonment. He served his sentence at Landsberg Prison in cell 70, and in 1924 he was evicted from his cell to make way for Adolf Hitler. He was released in 1925, and was on probation until 1927, when he was pardoned.[14][15]

Later life[edit]

Arco family grave at Sankt Martin im Innkreis, where Anton Graf von Arco-Valley is buried

Arco-Valley played only a minor part in politics thereafter. He supported a federalist vision of Germany, contrary to the Nazi Party's centralist policies. Initially he worked as editor of the newspaper Bayerisches Vaterland (Bavarian Fatherland), and later as director of state funded operations at Süddeutsche Lufthansa, from which he resigned at the beginning of 1930. Arco-Valley was one of the most radical members of the monarchist-federalist wing of the Bavarian People's Party.[16]

He was briefly held in "protective custody" by the Gestapo when the Nazis took power because of his Bavarian monarchist and federalist views. A remark attributed to him that he would gladly assassinate again was interpreted as a threat to Hitler, but he was released when he promised not to do to Hitler what he had done to Kurt Eisner.[17]

In June 1945, Arco-Valley, 48, was killed in a traffic accident in Salzburg. He was riding in a horse-drawn carriage when it collided with a U.S. Army vehicle. Two other passengers were injured, but Arco-Valley suffered a chest contusion and died at the scene.[16]


On 10 July 1934, he married his distant cousin Maria Gabrielle Countess (Gräfin) von Arco-Zinneberg, daughter of Count Joseph von und zu Arco-Zinneberg (great-grandson of Maria Leopoldine of Austria-Este) and Princess Wilhelmine von Auersperg.

Arco-Valley was survived by his wife, who died in 1987, his mother, and four daughters: Maria Wilhelmine Gräfin Apponyi von Nagy-Apponyi (1935–1987); Marie Ludmilla (born 1937); Maria Antonia Gräfin von Spaur und Flavon (born 1940) and Maria Leopoldine Stengel (born 1943). He was a contemporary of another distant cousin of rather different political views, the physicist/inventor Count Georg von Arco (1869–1940). Anton Graf von Arco's elder brother, Count Ferdinand (1893–1968), married Gertrud Wallenberg (1895–1983), member of the Swedish banking dynasty, and cousin of anti-Nazi hero Raoul Wallenberg.[18]


  1. ^ "Count Anton Graf von Arco auf Valley: The Assassin who Sparked the Rise of the Nazi Party Crime Magazine". Retrieved 5 October 2023.
  2. ^ Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke (1985),The Occult Roots of Nazism, p. 148
  3. ^ "". Archived from the original on 12 August 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  4. ^ Rudolf von Sebottendorff (1933). Bevor Hitler Kam: Urkundliches aus der Frühzeit der nationalsozialistischen Bewegung (in German). p. 82.
  5. ^ Padfield, Peter (2014). Hess, Hitler & Churchill, The Real Turning Point of the Second World War. p. 25.
  6. ^ Vgl. Friedrich Hitzer: Anton Graf Arco. Das Attentat auf Kurt Eisner und die Schüsse im Landtag. Knesebeck & Schulter, München 1988, ISBN 3-926901-01-2.
  7. ^ a b Ferdinand Sauerbruch, Hans Rudolf Berndorff: Das war mein Leben. Kindler & Schiermeyer, Bad Wörishofen 1951; zitiert: Lizenzausgabe für Bertelsmann Lesering, Gütersloh 1956.
  8. ^ Vgl. Friedrich Hitzer: Anton Graf Arco. Das Attentat auf Kurt Eisner und die Schüsse im Landtag. Knesebeck & Schulter, München 1988, ISBN 3-926901-01-2.
  9. ^ A. Hitler, Trans A. Johnson, Mein Kampf, 1940 Ed, Chapter 8, p. 278
  10. ^ Hett, Benjamin Carter (2018). The Death of Democracy. New York: St. Martin's. p. 46. ISBN 978-1-250-21086-9.
  11. ^ Ullrich, Volker (2016) Hitler: Ascent 1889–1939. Translated by Jefferson Chase. New York: Vintage. pp. 79–80. ISBN 978-1-101-87205-5
  12. ^ Hett, Benjamin Carter (2018). The Death of Democracy. New York: St. Martin's. pp. 46–47. ISBN 978-1-250-21086-9.
  13. ^ "propaganda: III Reich 3". Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  14. ^ a b c Brenner, Michael (1 March 2022). In Hitler's Munich: Jews, the Revolution, and the Rise of Nazism. Princeton University Press. pp. 201–202. ISBN 978-0-691-20541-0.
  15. ^ Newton, Michael (17 April 2014). Famous Assassinations in World History: An Encyclopedia [2 volumes]. Abc-Clio. ISBN 978-1-61069-286-1.
  16. ^ a b Ralf Höller (1999), Der Anfang, der ein Ende war. Die Revolution in Bayern 1918/19, Aufbau Taschenbücher, 8043, Berlin: Aufbau, p. 158, ISBN 3-7466-8043-3
  17. ^ Martin Broszat ua: Bayern in der NS-Zeit, Bd. 6. Oldenbourg-Verlag 1983, p. 73 Oldenbourg-Verlag 1983, p. 73
  18. ^ Berger, Susanne; Birstein, Vadim (1 January 2020). "The Secret Swedish-Hungarian Intelligence Sharing Agreement 1943-44: Possible Implications for the Raoul Wallenberg Case". Buxus Edition.

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