Edith Kadivec

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Ida Edith Kadivec (also spelled Cadivec, born 27 November 1879, died after 1952) was an Austrian teacher who became known as the center of a spectacular lawsuit in Vienna in 1924, and later as a writer of sadomasochist books with a main focus on the spanking of children.



Edith Kadivec was born in Sankt Martin near Buzet, located in the Slowenian part of Istria (today Croatia). From 1885 to 1890 she visited the Volksschule of Unterwaltersdorf in the Austrian district Baden, then she was given into the boarding school (a Fortbildungsschule) of the Schulschwestern in Graz. The nuns there used corporal punishment liberally. Kadivec was chastised there up to the age of 16 or 17.[1] Then, she wanted to become a teacher herself. From 1894 to 1898 she attended the Lehrerbildungsanstalt (a secondary education) of the Ursuline convent, also in Graz. She finished with Matura and Lehrbefähigung für Volksschulen (teaching authorization for primary schools).

Afterwards she worked for one year as a private teacher in Vienna, and then for several years in Paris in the Lycée(talk) de filles of Nôtre Dame, a Catholic school for girls. Besides her duties there, she attended philosophy lectures at Paris University. In 1909 (aged 29) she visited Vienna to be treated of a neuropathy. During this time, found via a newspaper want ad a masochistic man, count Franz Schlick, who also had a cross-dressing disposition (he would wear girl's clothes at home). Kadivec became his domme. Out of an inner drive to become a mother, she used the count as a tool to become pregnant. On the 15th of April 1910 she gave birth to an illegitimate daughter in Brussels whom she named Edith-Françoise. From there the young mother returned with her child to Vienna, half a year after her birth. The count always paid alimony. After another stay in Paris (1912-1915), she returned to Vienna.

1916-1923: Her own private school[edit]

Energischen Unterricht in französischer, englischer und deutscher Sprache und Mittelschulnachhilfe für Schüler und Schülerinnen über 12 Jahre erteilt disting. Lehrerin bei strengster Disziplin. Erfolgreiche Vorbereitung zu Staatsprüfungen. 1. Bezirk, Biberstraße 9, Tür Nr. 11.
  — Advertisement for her private school, source: image

As a result of her long absence she was evicted from her flat (4., Rechte Wienzeile 29) and her furniture was put in pawn. But shortly afterwards, with the help of wealthy benefactors, she rented a high-end studio in the centre of Vienna (1., Biberstraße 9/11), in which she opened her own Privatschule für moderne Sprachen (private school for modern languages) on the 1st of February 1916, in the middle of World War I. She gave lessons in French, English and German language to male and female pupils and private tuition for middle school students above 12 years of age, "under strictest discipline", as her advertisements said. Founded in time of need and although a good deal of her pupils were impecunious, her school, contrary to expectations, thrived and prospered: It emerged with credit from the educational success of its alleged French benefactress.

In these years, Edith Kadivec took on a false identity and commited forgery to change her name: She manipulated her Meldezettel (registration sheet), as was apparent from her Originaltaufschein (original baptismal certificate) of 1916 and her Heimatschein (proof of citizenship) of 1917: She erased the dot on the i of her name (Cadivec -> Cadwec) and transformed the final letter to an e (Cadwec -> Cadwee). In 1919, after World War I, meaning the decline of the Austrian Empire (11 August 1804 proclaimed, followed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire 29 May 1867-31 October 1918) and the loss of territories such as Istria (including her place of birth), which was given to Italy, Kadivec opted for Austrian citizenship by presenting these forged documents. She took on the false identity of Edith (de) Cadwé (Cadvé), alleged French widow of a baron named Rosza.

1922/23: The Rudolf Nowotny case[edit]

In 1922, the parents of the 10-year-old Rudolf Nowotny, Hauslabgasse 40/11, pressed charges against Mrs "Cadvé" for cruelly whipping the boy during his very first piano lesson with her. She was sentenced on the 19th of May 1923 by the Jugendgericht Wien to two days arrest. However she filed an appeal and was acquitted on the 9th of October 1923 by the Landesgericht Wien.

1924: The "Viennese sadist lawsuit"[edit]

On the 22nd of December 1923, the 12-year-old girl Margarete (Grete/l, Gretl) Pilz (born 28 June 1911), a ward of Mrs "Cadvé", ran away from her home and was picked up by the police. On the 24th of December, the girl told the police she has been regularly given severe corporal punishment, the last time four days before her flight. She did not attend school as she was given private schooling by her guardian. She was inspected by a doctor, who found bruises on the girl's buttocks that were still visible after two weeks. The girl described how she was typically punished by Mrs "Cadvé": she was made to undress, or at least bare her buttocks, before lying over the knees of her guardian, who would then chastise her with a leather whip. These punishments would take place in the presence of men who watched.

On the 3rd of January 1924, police searched the establishment of the woman and found various spanking implements, books and letters of sadistic and/or masochistic content, obscene pictures, mostly photographs of naked children, a diary and a cash book. It turned out that Mrs "Cadvé" had apparently sadistic (as well as probably lesbian and pedophile) leanings and had abused her pupils out of sexual and financial motives. Men (and at least one woman), many of which were from Vienna's high society, had paid money for the opportunity to watch Mrs "Cadvé" punish one of her pupils.

In such a session, the teacher would examine the boy or girl and ask questions that were too hard and beyond the child's abilities. The pupil would then be punished for their failure. The pupil was sometimes made to select the instrument of chastisement themselves. The chastisement was typically given over the teacher's knees, on the child's bare bottom, or in other cases wearing a pair of tightly fitting Strafhöschen (punishment panties) made of white Glacéleder (soft, washable leather). Sometimes the child had to count the spanks, and sometimes they had to kneel afterwards with their bottom still bared "to cool off". They had to kiss their teacher's hands, and were eventually comforted by her with words and sweets.

From the teacher's cash book, a list of her clients could be compiled. The men were found to have masturbated while watching the punishments (from a couch in the same room, or through the slightly open door). At least one, a masochist, had afterwards (in the absence of the pupil) performed cunnilingus on Mrs "Cadvé". In how far Kadivec's own daughter (then 13 years of age) had been abused, sexually or physically, could never be clarified: she refused to give evidence during the trial.

The lawsuit that followed became known in the media as the Wiener Sadistenprozess (Viennese sadist lawsuit) and sparked great public interest in Austria. Edith Kadivec had a criminal record and was found to have full criminal responsibility. Immediately after her arrest she admitted to have a sadistic disposition and to have selected students from poorer families to reduce the risk of discovery. The fact that she had faked the identity of a baroness carried additional weight. Besides Kadivec (aged 44), her supply teacher Eugénie Degrassi (aged 33), and five men from her clients were initially also charged: Hermann Romberg (41), Leopold Chlumecky (51), Walter Taussig (27), Paul Kotanyi (39) and Ernst Bachstez (35).[2]

On the 1st of March 1924, Kadivec was found guilty of Schändung and Verführung zur Unzucht and sentenced to a six-year prison term of Schwerer Kerker (hard confinement). Two codefendants were sentenced to minor suspended sentences, the other of the woman's clients were not punished. Edith Kadivec's daughter, former pupil of the third class of the first Austrian gymnasium open to girls (6., Rahlgasse 4; cf. its history), as well as Gretl Pilz were given to the Louisenheim für gefährdete Kinder (18., Staudgasse 35; two images: [1], [2]). This Catholic institution for Mädchenschutz und -fürsorge, in all probability belonging to the Vincentian Family (in Vienna: Barmherzige Schwestern Wien-Gumpendorf; cf. today's Luisenheim of the Barmherzige Schwestern Graz), was affiliated to the Caritasverband. Her daughter ran the risk of being taken to a juvenile court, not for Blutschande, § 131 StG (this was impossible, because incest implied by definition of the law heterosexuality and coitus; cf. the incorrect usage of the word incest in the final question section below), but for Unzucht wider die Natur, § 129 I b StG (homosexuality), was appointed a Generalvormund (general guardian: Städtisches Bezirksjugendamt Ottakring) and lived after four months in her mother's studio again. Her academic career was ruined (Edith Cadivec, 1931):

"Dieses dreizehn dreivierteljährige, sorgfältig erzogene und behütete Mädchen, Schülerin der dritten Klasse des humanistischen Mädchengymnasiums, wurde von den Behörden vier Monate lang in einem Heim für verwahrloste Kinder zur Verfügung der Gerichte festgehalten."
p. 203"Ich erfuhr von meinem Anwalt, daß eine bekannte Dame, deren Tochter Edith's Schulkameradin war, die größten Anstrengungen machte, um meine Tochter unter ihren Schutz zu bekommen und sie die Studien im Gymnasium fortsetzen zu lassen. Es war alles vergebens - die staatlichen Behörden bewilligten es nicht."
p. 216"Edith schrieb mir in diesem Brief, daß Hofrat Piggisch[3], den sie »Onkel« nenne, ihr Vormund sei, und daß sie in unserer Wohnung in der Biberstraße lebe; das Gymnasium besuche sie nicht mehr, weil der Onkel sagt, daß sie kein Latein und Griechisch mehr brauche ..."
p. 217"Er sorgte nicht dafür, daß Edith ihre begonnenen Mittelschulstudien fortsetze, sondern ermöglichte ihr an seiner Seite ein Leben des Müßiggangs und Luxus, um das Herz des Kindes für sich zu gewinnen. Autofahren, Konditoreibesuche, Kino und Theater, Tag für Tag, in ständiger Begleitung dieses »Onkels« waren für das liebreizende vierzehnjährige Mädchen bei absoluter Untätigkeit und Langweile ein depravierendes Gift."

(Ed. Michael Farin, 2008; pp. 202 et seq., 216 et seq.)

Many commentators thought Kadivec's sentence was unduly harsh and called it "sadistic" or "barbarian" on the side of the judge. It was criticised that the woman was pushished so hard, while the men who had used her for their interests and financed the whole thing were permitted to walk out freely. Edith Kadivec had pleaded innocent: she fully admitted to the chastisements, but said she had never touched the children indecently. She explained she had very often been chastised herself throughout her childhood and youth (in Graz up to the age of 16 or 17), and firmly believed in the developmental, bonding and pedagogic benefits of corporal punishment by a mother or teacher, so in her eyes she had not done anything bad to her charges. She argued the chastisements had been within her legal rights as a teacher: they had always been in animo corrigendi, with corrective intentions. In one of her later books, she lamented that society cannot see the mutual benefit of severe punishment for girls on the one hand, and sexual fulfilment for their matronly punishers on the other.

1924-1925: Imprisonment[edit]

During the lawsuit, in 1924, perhaps with the help of the journalist Josef Kalmer, Edith Kadivec began to write Mein Schicksal. Bekenntnisse von Edith Cadwé (My destiny. Confessions of Edith Cadwé). The book was later reissued under the title Unter der Peitsche der Leidenschaft (Under the Whip of Passion). The sexually explicit work became an important piece of sadomasochist literature, and started Edith Kadivec's life as an author. Kadivec's books claim to be autobiographical accounts of her life, but probably only parts of them are true and much of their contents must be considered fiction.

On the 1st of July 1924 Kadivec was transfered from the Landesgericht Wien to the prison of the Kreisgericht St. Pölten. After an appeal, Kadivec's sentence was shortened to five years. Three mercy petitions (March 1925; two to the Federal President Michael Hainisch: August 1925, September 1925) were without success. On the 17th of December 1925, due to a fourth petition, she achieved a (Christmas?) amnesty of the Federal Chancellery (Justice) and was released on the subsequent day. Other sources (Wikipedia) say she was released after her showing signs of mental instability.

After 1926[edit]

In July 1927 she and her daughter were officially granted by the Viennese Mayor Karl Seitz to change their last name to Christally. Edith Kadivec / Christally continued to write and published a sequel to her memoirs called Eros, der Sinn Meines Lebens (Eros: The Meaning of My Life) in 1931. Both books were translated into English by Hugo Gaspari and published in New York by Grove Press.

She never regained custody of her daughter. Her health and finances deteriorated and she seems to have suffered increasingly from nervous disorders including paranoia, believing herself the victim of various conspiracies. She made many applications to resume her lawsuit, petitions and claims for compensation, which were all rejected. In 1940, she was partially incapacitated by a court and granted 'poor law'. She spent the years 1951 and 1952 in the psychiatric sanatorium Am Steinhof in Vienna (Baumgartner Höhe Otto-Wagner-Spital: 14., Baumgartner Höhe 1; contains the Kirche am Steinhof of Otto Wagner). Her last sign of life dates from 15 April 1953. She was aged 73 then. Her date of death is unknown.

Final question[edit]

Convicted of incest?[4]

Edith Kadivec, Jr., refused to give evidence during the trial, thereby avoiding to be taken to court.

"Aus heutiger Sicht ist festzuhalten, dass das Objekt des inzestuösen Missbrauchs selbst eine strafrechtliche Verfolgung zu gewärtigen hatte (vgl. Aktenvermerk 21.1.24, ON 106)."
(Neda Bei, p. 411)

The charge of incest therefore must not make any impact. Nevertheless: Incest played presumably an important role on the court's exceptionally harsh sentence, as a comparison with her acquittal in the lawsuit of 1922/23 shows and the following statement of her daughter's general guardianship officially confirms. And it had assuredly a truculent effect on the rest of her life. Her second mercy petition to the Federal President was not supported by the youth welfare office with regard to incest:

"Die Kindesmutter blickt auf ein bewegtes Vorleben zurück, ihre ganze Existenz war, wie der Vormundschaftsakt beweist, auf ein schwer entwirrbares Lügengewebe aufgebaut, und mit allem Nachdruck muss daran festgehalten werden, dass sie, von den an fremden Kindern begangenen sadistischen Verfehlungen abgesehen, auch wegen des an ihrem bluteigenen Kinde vollbrachten Verbrechens der Schändung verurteilt worden ist und dass sie von der Anklage, mit demselben lesbische Liebe betrieben zu haben, nur freigesprochen wurde, weil ihre Tochter sich der Zeugenaussage entschlug. Der Kindesvater, der übrigens auch früher seiner Alimentationspflicht nachgekommen ist, bestreitet jetzt restlos die Kosten der Lebensführung des Kindes; es trifft also die Behauptung der Gnadengesuche, dass die Mutter für den Unterricht aufkommen müsse, nicht zu."
(Städtisches Bezirksjugendamt Ottakring, 10 October 1925; from: Neda Bei, p. 413, fn. 26; emphasis added)

Even her application for compensation for false imprisonment from 15 April 1953 was still dismissed by highlighting the incestuous facet of the lawsuit.

"Noch der Sachbearbeiter des Antrages nach dem Amtshaftungsgesetz, mit dem Kadivec im April 1953 eine Entschädigung begehrte, stellte in einer Zusammenfassung des Strafverfahrens den inzestuösen Aspekt als wesentlich heraus."
(Neda Bei, p. 413)


Primary literature[edit]

English translations[edit]

by Hugo Gaspari:

  • Confessions and Experiences, New York: Grove Press, 1971.
  • Eros: The Meaning of My Life, New York: Grove Press, 1969. ISBN 1-56201-081-6 / ISBN 1-199-46483-X / ISBN 978-156201-128-4 (= ISBN 1-56201-128-6)
Newest editions[edit]

by Michael Farin:

  • Bekenntnisse und Erlebnisse, München: belleville, 2008. ISBN 978-3-923646-84-5 (= ISBN 3-923646-84-4)
  • Eros, der Sinn meines Lebens, München: belleville, 1998. ISBN 978-3-923646-83-8 (= ISBN 3-923646-83-6)
Trotz intensiver Recherche konnte bisher keine französische Ausgabe der Cadivec-Bände nachgewiesen werden. In den offiziellen Bibliographien zur Geschichte des Verlages von Maurice Girodias: Olympia Press findet sich keinerlei Erwähnung. Der Verleger von Henry Miller und Samuel Beckett dürfte diese Bände ausschließlich für den grauen Markt produziert haben. Hinweise auf die Existenz dieser Bände werden dankbar entgegengenommen.
  — Michael Farin (2008), p. 446; see Secondary literature: Armand Coppens

Secondary literature[edit]

  • The newest edition by Michael Farin (2008; see above) contains:
    • Robert Müller: Sadistenprozeß in Wien (1924), pp. 349-356.
    • Alfred Polgar: Ein Kriminalfall (1924), pp. 357-358.
    • Johannes R. Birlinger: Das grausame Weib (1928), pp. 359-364.
    • Erich Wulffen: Edith Cadivec (1929), pp. 365-381.
    • Julius Epstein: Der Fall Cadivec (1933), pp. 382-390.
    • Harald Seyrl: Der Fall Kadivec (2003), pp. 391-396.
    • Neda Bei: Zum Strafverfahren gegen Edith Kadivec im Wiener »Sadistenprozeß« (2007), pp. 397-442.
      • Textanhänge, pp. 426-442 (consists of important primary literature).
    • Armand Coppens: Memoiren eines Erotica-Händlers (1969), pp. 443-446 (mentions a french edition by Maurice Girodias' Olympia Press). Extract from Idem:
      • Memoiren eines Erotica-Händlers von Armand Coppens unter Mithilfe seiner müden Ehefrau Clementine und ihres fernen Liebhabers verfaßt, Hamburg: Gala Verlag, 1970; pp. 102-108. Translation of:
      • The Memoirs of an Erotic Bookseller assisted by his tired wife CLEMENTINE and her distant lover, vol. 1, New York: Grove Press as license of London: Luxor Press, 1969; pp. 70-73.
    • Bibliographische Verweise, pp. 447-451.


  • The name Kadivec, stressed in Slovenian on the second syllable, but in Viennese absolutely on the first, is pronounced kah-dee-vets. Edith Kadivec however claimed to have had Breton ancestors (which was probably untrue) and demanded that her name be spelled Cadivec and pronounced kah-dee-vek, thereby avoiding an association with wetzen (Austrian; to copulate). The neologism kadi-wetze(l)n (see below) intends the contrary.
  • Kadivec loathed coitus, she only liked cunnilingus. The intercourse she had with count Schlick was with him tied down in bondage and only for the purpose of getting pregnant.
  • Kadivec's collection of implements included leather straps and whips, canes, birches, a horsehair whip and a Nagyka.
  • One of her whips had a silver handle on which which was engraved the word Dominatrix.
  • After her trial, the Austrian neologism cadivezzln became popular in Vienna, meaning "to flagellate someone".

References and notes[edit]

  1. Karl Woisetschläger: Ein Kind wird geschlagen (Die Presse, 2008)
  2. Ise Reitner: Gustav Harpner (1864-1924), Böhlau Verlag, 2008, page 508 ff
  3. Piggisch assumedly derives from piggish and stands maybe for Eselböck. Compare "1935 [...] erstattete sie eine Strafanzeige gegen den Vormund ihrer Tochter, Eselböck, wegen Amtsmissbrauchs, Verleumdung, Betruges und Einschränkung der körperlichen Freiheit." (Neda Bei, p. 417)
  4. This section does not observe the law's definition of incest (Neda Bei, p. 406, fn. 11): "»Blutschande«, § 131 StG, war heterosexuell definiert und setzte Koitus voraus."

See also[edit]


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