I have a depression disorder

The Burg justice drama about burnout and luxury

The defendant Silvia Stantejsky suffered from severe depression as a commercial manager. The prosecutor confronted her with heavily exaggerated private spending.

Third act in the judicial drama about the earlier mismanagement at the Burgtheater: On Monday, the mental life and private expenses of Silvia Stantejsky were the focus of the Vienna Regional Court. The only accused testified that, as commercial manager, from 2008 onwards she suffered more and more from a mental illness, more precisely from a "high-grade depression disorder with burn-out character and auto-aggressive features". She often had the "thought of breaking up".

Almost every week she went to the hospital for treatment and was prescribed five drugs, two of which were severe psychotropic drugs. Relevant places in the house would have known about their health situation. And one of the reasons for her problems was the not exactly harmonious working relationship with the director at the time, Matthias Hartmann.

Is your defense attorney, Isabell Lichtenstrasser, hoping with these confessions to mitigating circumstances for the embezzlement of at least 380,000 euros (this is what the amounts admitted so far add up)? Then Stantejsky's pride immediately thwarts such a strategy: No, she “certainly did not make any mistakes” in negotiations, the medication would “certainly not have fogged her”. An additional form of improper use of the house's money also came up: a kind of loan to employees who were currently in financial need - which explains why everyone called Stantejsky the “good soul” of the house.

The pressure from the supervisory board and the federal theater holding company was great. When Stantejsky reported losses, they did not take notice. Instead, the then holding boss, Georg Springer, then "sent her home" and told her: "See what screws you can turn."

Hartmann was "very decisive"

On the third day of the trial, however, Othmar Stoss, authorized signatory of the holding, contradicted this representation: Stantejsky had by no means declared that the required black zero could not be achieved. On the contrary, he “always had the impression that she was a robust personality and that she did things”. When Hartmann took office, the basic payment for the castle was increased by 2.5 million euros, which created scope for renovation. Stoss admits, however, that it was certainly difficult to reduce personnel costs with the "very decisive" Hartmann. The fact that the artistic director was not interested in economic issues often "ridiculed" the annoyed Stantejsky.

Prosecutor Veronika Standfest on Monday was mainly concerned with proving an overly luxurious lifestyle of the accused. She presented meticulous lists of private expenses based on credit card statements: in 2011 they were 43,000 euros above their annual salary, a year later they were 171,000 euros, and in 2013 they were even 216,000 euros. These differences caused Stantejksy to argue in front of the court: she could “not say more at the moment”.

The noticeable expenses included expensive Italian designer clothing, wellness stays and holidays in castle hotels with her partner - who, according to Stantejsky, always paid her back in cash afterwards. Incidentally, she gets by in the household with little money and doesn't even afford a cleaning lady: "I used cleaning to compensate for fits of anger."

The negotiation will continue on Tuesday, with statements from Hartmann and Springer. A judgment is not expected until mid-December at the earliest. (APA / red.)

("Die Presse", print edition, November 19, 2019)