Ivan Landauer was born on August 31, 1899. His parents, Josef and Nanette Landauer, ran the Hohenems inn “Zur frohen Aussicht.” Between 1915 and 1917, he served his apprenticeship in the Leon Levy shirt factory in Zurich. In 1917, in the course of World War I, he volunteered for service in the Austro-Hungarian army. From 1931, he worked in the factory of his brother-in-law and married a Swiss woman, Hulda Egli.
A year later, however, his wife passed away, as did his mother, Nanette in 1936. Ivan took over the inn “Zur frohen Aussicht” in Hohenems. Following the ‘Anschluss,’ Ivan Landauer had to close the inn and was detained for three weeks. After that, he leased the inn to Anton and Lina Amann. Still, his livelihood was ruined. Eventually, in 1939, a Swiss bank had the inn sold in a foreclosure auction. By that time, Ivan Landauer had already escaped to Switzerland.
As early as May 1938, Ivan had made initial attempts at leaving Austria for Switzerland. His sister, Jenny, and maternal relatives, who resided in Switzerland, made efforts to obtain a residence permit. On August 24, 1938, his brother-in-law applied for a visa at the Swiss consulate in Bregenz. By that same evening, Ivan had left Austria. A German passport enabled him to do so since there were no visa requirements for Germans yet.
In his private correspondence, Ivan’s resignation becomes apparent. “I once read a book, The Eternal Jew,” he wrote in October 1939 to Harry Weil, his old acquaintance from Hohenems, “and it seems to me that this is about to happen to me too; one is chased from one country to the next, and what crime has one committed anyway?? The parents were ‘Jews’…”.
On September 30, 1940, Ivan Landauer was sent to the Gordola labor camp in Ticino where he worked as a cook. At the same time, the Austrian writer and playwright Fritz Hochwälder was also interned there. Now, Ivan Landauer’s “labor camp comrades” also wrote into his friendship book, which he had been able to take with him to the camp. In a poem at Easter 1940 it says:
“From emigrant … to emigrant …:
We drift along on destiny’s waves,
Surging high up and then down in a gust.
Yet, won’t shatter when against cliffs are thrust
And above us clouds as sinister as caves!
The ship called “Home” was torn away by a gale …
The chain proved too weak, gone is the anchor.
Thus we looked, waves rippling in easy banter,
For the shore whence fond dreams amiably hail!
Though we’re tired from these turbulences dizzying and long
Indeed, water slowly penetrates our boat so light.
The journey, errant and wondrous, isn’t over yet, nope!
We dreamily listen to this ancient song
That tells us tales of enduring delight
And of this yearning that keeps us filled with hope!”
Since he was suffering from a serious heart condition, Ivan Landauer was finally released from the detention camp for health reasons in June 1942. On March 6, 1943, he died at his sister’s place in Heerbrugg.