He was born in Steinfeld near Graz as the grandson of Johann Peter and Therese von Reininghaus and son of Johann Dietrich “Hans” von Reininghaus and Virginia “Gina” Agujari (who later married Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf). He passed his matriculation examination at the Theresian Academy in 1914, five weeks before the outbreak of World War I, and then volunteered for the Italian front. Returning home as an honored lieutenant in January 1918, he enrolled in physics, chemistry and philosophy at the Philosophical Faculty in Graz that same year. After his dissertation on “The electromotive behavior of alloys of sodium with some other metals” had been approved, he received his doctorate in May 1920 and married Countess Anna “Nini” von Widmann-Sedlnitzky in October, with whom he had the children Anton “Tono”, Peter and Theresia “Mädi” (married Baroness von Löwenthal-Maroicic).
Also in autumn 1920, Peter Reininghaus joined the Brothers Reininghaus AG as an authorized signatory. With almost inexhaustible energy, he took responsibility for this very difficult legacy after the war. From 1924 on he was a member of the board of directors, which he headed as executive president from 1937. It was he who led the company out of the difficulties of the post-war period with its loss of the large economic area of the Danubian Monarchy. In 1927 he joined the Styrian section committee of the association of industrialists and in 1935 became chairman of the Styrian regional association. In 1934 he took on a political mandate as a member of the Styrian state parliament. In 1936 he was appointed to the General Council of the Austrian National Bank. In the mid-1930s he also succeeded in overcoming the difficulties with the second largest brewery in the country, the Gösser Brewery AG, in what turned out to be the focus of his life’s work. In doing so, he laid the foundation for the “Styrian brewing industry”.
Immediately after Austria’s annexation to the Third Empire, he was dismissed without notice and relieved of all public mandates, arrested on March 13, 1938 and only released twelve days later. Without further ado, he was expelled from the country.
He finally emigrated via Baden/Vienna, Brussels and Lausanne with his second wife Nora Ebner v. Ebenthal and his youngest son Peter, who was 14 years old at the time, went to Trieste and Abbazia. Penniless because getting the exit papers had cost him everything. During his time in exile, he learned Italian and English autodidactic, Goethe’s Faust by heart and studied the works of German and French philosophers. Immediately after July 20, 1944, he received a summons from the Gestapo, but was warned early enough to go into hiding. So he waited for the war to end in attics and basements. In 1945, when he returned home for the first time in seven years, the material and human rubble left by the war made him resigned at first. It was only after a long hesitation that he went back to work and began to rebuild the company, which was now called “Grazer Brauerei Aktiengesellschaft Puntigam-Reininghaus” (the result of a forced merger of the two Graz breweries in 1944). Large parts of Graz were only ruins, hunger and misery dominated everyday life and Steinfeld had been “plowed down” by air raids. Therefore, in 1947, the entire beer production was relocated to Puntigam, which enabled efficient management. He took care of the reactivation of the production facilities and the management of the Reininghaus Brewery AG, which includes Reininghaus and Puntigam, the Göß brewery, whose supervisory board chairman he became in 1951, and the Villacher brewery.
In 1950 Peter Reininghaus founded the Association of Independent Business Owners as a forum for free decision-making and equally free criticism … as a bulwark of bourgeois sentiments. He was a founding member of the “New Austrian Society” headed by Governor Josef Krainer senior, who stood up for a federal Austria against the hypertrophic Viennese orders, against the system of economic nepotism. In his house on the Steinfeld he ran a salon for politicians and those interested in politics, but not for party politics. He was also a great promoter of Styrian hops. On his initiative in 1953, farmers were won in the Leutschach area to start growing hops – and thus with the Styrian brewing industry being rooted in the local soil. He got involved in the reorganization of the brewing cartel association and from 1957 coordinated the breweries in Styria and Carinthia with the help of the “Alpine Working Group for Economic Policy” he had created. Internationally, he organized the establishment of the “Chamber for the Promotion of Traffic between Austria and Trieste”, for which the Italian state later awarded him the insignia and the title of Commendatore.
His various talents can be traced back to the sober business sense of his fathers and the intuitive and instinctive-ingenious actions of his highly gifted and artistically inclined Italian mother (descended from the old Venetian families Marchese Tassoni and Nobile di Tretti).
“The President” was an extremely musical and correspondingly sensitive and delicate person with a strong sense of form and rhythm. He was a brilliant pianist, and when he gave house music evenings with instrumental artists and singers from the Graz Opera, he gave excellent accompaniment on the piano.
His oral and written style reflected the joy of mastering language. From 1954 until his death he was on the board of directors of the Styrian Music Association, member of the board of trustees of the Joanneum and was also prepared to make personal material sacrifices to save the Graz theater. This also in memory of the deep friendship that his grandparents had with the Styrian poet Peter Rosegger.
Over the years the spirit of the time and the political masquerade appeared increasingly strange to him. At his last public appearance, in December 1972 in the Styrian Chamber of Commerce, he made a passionate appeal against the ever more palpable tendencies towards equalization and called for people to actively oppose it.
His official cause of death was heart failure, but it was more the extinction of the once strong will to live. So he died on a Sunday morning, like all great Austrians as a pessimist, as a man whose ultimate fulfillment is denied, as it was said in an obituary. With Dr. Peter Reininghaus went a committed full-blooded entrepreneur and Austrian wholeheartedly, and with his death those tendencies of leveling continued, he always had opposed.