But almost forgotten is the man who built it as his monument and with his foresight and all his initiatives gave the decisive impetus for the development of Semmering, from an inhospitable, deserted pass region to the fashionable meeting place of the imperial and royal chic. chiceria. Viktor Silberer was an eccentric self-made millionaire whose career led from a bank clerk to a journalistic career to a media tycoon and property developer and, quite incidentally, included a career as a political heavyweight and also emerged as a patron of the Viennese theatres and philanthropist. But even that was not all, he was an award-winning sportsman and aeronaut, he helped the sport of trotting to an unimagined height and at the turn of the 20th century he was the largest hotelier on the Semmering. At that time, his hotel “Erzherzog Johann” towered over the already established “Südbahnhotel” and the “Panhans”.
In 1892 Viktor Silberer appeared on the still modest stage of Semmering and very quickly recognised the potential of this mountain landscape. To get started, he acquired all the land from the then “Semmering” hotel to the pass, as was reported, and commissioned the well-known theatre architects Helmer and Fellner to plan his “castle”. However, he did not agree with their designs and entrusted the architect Josef Bündsdorf with a new design including construction. When it was completed in 1894, the “Silberer Schlössl” was also the first house on the Semmering with electric light. The electricity for this was generated in a small power station by means of a motor-driven generator. To support his activities, he founded the monthly newspaper “Semmeringer Zeitung” in 1900 and he was also the co-founder and chairman of the Association for the Promotion of Tourism in the Semmering, Rax, Schneeberg and Wechsel Regions. He negotiated with the Südbahngesellschaft on an equal footing and prescribed departure times and fares for the private company. It was also noted cynically that he treated the Semmering municipal councillors like domestics.
However, his business in Vienna also required his presence and commitment. He was by now a multiple house owner in Vienna, including one of the largest houses in the inner city, the “Annahof” in the same lane. It also housed the “Wiener Ballhaus” one of the largest and most popular entertainment venues in the city. His political career, which brought him a municipal council mandate in addition to being a member of the Lower Austrian parliament and finally also a member of the Reichstag, demanded his presence in Vienna. The renovation of the “Kaiser Jubiläumstheater”, the later Volksoper and the “Raimund Theater”, of which he was the largest shareholder, also forced him to withdraw from his Semmering activities. The hotel “Erzherzog Johann” was acquired in 1909 by Franz Panhans, who now became the “King of Semmering”. He gave away the properties he still owned to charities and discontinued the “Semmeringer Zeitung”.
He finally sold his castle in January 1920 and thus broke with Semmering for good. On 11 April 1924 Viktor Silberer died in his house at Annagasse 4 in Vienna, which was his last remaining property.
From “Viktor Silberer – King of the Semmering” by Eduard Aberham, published by Kral Verlag ISBN: 978-3-99103-018-8