Dr Johann Nelböck (1903–1954) was an
Austrian 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
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
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.
Moritz Schlick, the founder of the group of philosophers and
as the Vienna Circle.