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Encyclopaedia Judaica

Jews in Austria 04: From 1918-1938

Minority rights - mini Austria - Jewish economic positions - sinking Jewish population by Zionism - sliding Austrian government

from: Austria; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, vol. 3

presented by Michael Palomino (2007)

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[since 1918: minority rights - restrictions in schools and restrictions concerning the right to vote - Zionism - Jewish parties - Jewish prominents]

<After 1918.


The Treaty of St. Germain (1919) guaranteed the Jews *minority rights. Interpretation of this provision led to serious differences of opinion among the Jewish parties themselves. The Zionists founded a Jewish National Council (Juedischer Nationalrat) and the Soldiers' Committee protected Jews in the postwar unrests. The Zionist Robert *Stricker was elected to the first Austrian National Assembly in 1919 and three Zionists were also returned to the Vienna city parliament.

Attempts were made to segregate the Jews in schools and universities. Jews who had settled in Austria after the outbreak of the war were deprived of the right to vote, and the reorganization of the Vienna electoral districts also adversely affected the Jewish voting strength. Special measures disqualifying the war refugees from becoming Austrian citizens were introduced in 1921.

In the post-war (col. 896)

era, many Zionist youth intending to emigrate to Erez Israel passed through Austria. Among Jews, chiefly in Vienna, the Social-Democratic Party gained many supporters, attracting the lower-middle-class electorate. Some of its leaders of Jewish descent, such as Otto *Bauer and Julius Deutsch, were widely popular; in Jewish affairs they adhered to a policy of assimilation. Their leading positions, however, drew anti-Semitic invective. The Social Democrats were careful to avoid the label of a Jewish party and the display of too many Jews in prominent positions. The Christlich-Soziale Partei (*Christian Social Party) which formed the majority of the governments in Austria, under Ignaz Seipel, Engelbert *Dollfuss, and Kurt von Schuschnigg, was not racist anti-Semitic; the dependence of Austria on the League of Nations and the Western powers, and the growing menace of National Socialism, made the government play down anti-Semitism and seek Jewish support.

[[Supplement: The Treaty of St. Germain and the bad effects in mini Austria - and crash in 1929

The Treaty of St. Germain of 1919 ordered that Austria became a mini state, and big German speaking parts became parts of CSSR, Italy and Hungary. And German speaking Austria was forbidden to join Germany. And the new Austrian government was holding secret connections to Berlin at the same time and did not want to change the economy from an imperial to a mini state economy so there was a high unemployment until 1926. All this was the ground of new energy against all parties who accepted the St. Germain treaty, and especially the energy was headed against Jews in such parties. And after the collapse of the stock market of 1929 the remembrance of the crash of 1873, and the crisis was about the same in a bigger scale...]]

[1938 approx.: Jewish domination in important parts of Austrian economy]


By the late 1930s, years of acute economic crises, the proportion of Jews in the Austrian economy was very high. The scrap-iron trade was 100% Jewish; the Jewish share of the total turnover in the self-service restaurant trade amounted to 94%; in advertising it was 90%; in the furniture trade, 85%; in the enquiry office field, 82%; in the shoe trade, newspapers, radio dealers and beauty parlors, 80%; in the banks, 75%; in the wine trade, 73.6%; in textiles, 73.3%; in the cinemas, insurance, the timber trade, livestock dealers and confectioners, 70%; in the petrol and oil trade, 64%, and so on.

In the scientific professions and handicrafts the proportion of Jews was 70%; 51.6% of the dental surgeons and medical men were Jews; 31% of dental mechanics; 23.7% of university professors (45% in the medical faculty); 62% of lawyers; 55.6% of jewelers; 76.5% of booksellers; 67.6% of furriers; 45% of hat manufacturers; 35% of shoe manufacturers; 34% of milliners; 34% of photographers; 26% of chemists, and so on (J. Fraenkel: Jews of Austria (1967), 480).

In the period 1919-1939, a number of Jewish schools and Hebrew classes opened their doors to students. These included the Chajesgymnasium and the Paedagogium, a Hebrew teachers' seminary. In addition, youth movements and the *He-Halutz pioneer organizations had many supporters. Reforms were introduced in communal institutions and new ones were established. These included the Organisation fuer juedische Wanderfueresorge ("Organization for the Care of Jewish Migration"), established in 1930 to cope with the huge transitory Jewish migration, which became even greater with the influx of emigrants from Germany after 1933. In 1934 the Zionists formed the majority in the Vienna and *Graz communities.

[[By Zionism the number of Jews in Austria was sinking. But this Zionism with its aim to drive the Arabs away - as the natives of the "USA" were driven away - should be a trap, because the Arabs had weapons since 1915, and the Jews emigrating there did not see this trap and - as it seems - they had not read the Herzl book. Herzl himself had never been in Palestine and had never spoken with any Arab, otherwise he never had invented a plan to exterminate the Arabs with the comparison of the extermination of the natives in "America". At the same time the Austrians did mainly not see the trap of a union with the Third Reich, because they had only the dream of the union, but had not read Mein Kampf and his war announcements in the last chapter of part II...]]

Table. Jewish population in Austrian provinces
Burgenlandxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 4,837xxxxxxxxxxxxx 3,632xxxxxxxxxxx
339xxxxxxxxxxxxx 269xxxxxxxxxxx
Lower Austria
9,287xxxxxxxxxxxxx 7,716xxxxxxxxxxx
285xxxxxxxxxxxxx 239xxxxxxxxxxx
2,708xxxxxxxxxxxxx 2,195xxxxxxxxxxx
469xxxxxxxxxxxxx 365xxxxxxxxxxx
175,318xxxxxxxxxxxxx 176,034xxxxxxxxxxx
126xxxxxxxxxxxxx 42xxxxxxxxxxx
193,369xxxxxxxxxxxxx 190,492xxxxxxxxxxx
from: Austria; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, vol. 3, col. 897

(col. 897)

[since 1934: Quite anti-Semitism in Austria - since 1938: Jewish national facilities split the Zionists and the non-Zionists]

After the suppression of the Social Democrats in 1934, the Jewish situation declined, mainly through an insidious discrimination. Jews were quietly deprived of their means of existence under various pretexts while the authorities  continued to emphasize that all citizens had equal civic status. Jews were permitted to join the Vaterlaendische Front which in 1934 replaced the political parties.

In January 1938 it was proposed that Jewish youth should be organized in a separate subdivision of the youth division of the Front. This the Zionists accepted willingly, but it angered those in favor of assimilation.

[1934-1938: Sliding Austrian government and public life - Jewish writers and monarchists]

As the conflict between the Austrian regime and Nazi Germany became more pronounced, the government increasingly realized that good will abroad and Jewish tourism were dependent on its attitude toward the Jews. Federal Chancellor Schuschnigg sent Desider *Friedmann, the head of the Vienna community, on a mission abroad to mobilize support for the Austrian currency.

There was a wide discrepancy between the attitude of the government and of the Austrian public toward the Jews. When, for instance, Schuschnigg congratulated Sigmund *Freud on his birthday in 1936, the letter was not published in the press. On the other hand, the official policy to emphasize everything specifically Austrian enhanced the reputation of writers and intellectuals of Jewish origin living there.

Outstanding were the writers Franz *Werfel, Stephan *Zweig, Peter *Altenberg, and Alfred *Polgar, the musician Bruno *Walter, and the theatrical producer Max *Reinhardt. Many Jews, outstanding among them Major-General Emil von *Sommer, yearning for the days of Franz Joseph, became monarchists. Efforts to combat anti-Semitism, including reminders of the part played by Jewish soldiers in World War I, could do nothing to counter the violent hatred against the Jews ingrained in wide sectors of the Austrian population.

[N.M.G./M.LA.]> (col. 898)

[[Supplement: Austrian anti-Semitism 1918-1938 and the reasons

This Austrian anti-Semitism was so strong because Austria was forbidden the union with Germany since 1918 and the Jews in the League of Nations in Geneva had not done anything for it but they extorted Austria with delivery of food. Before 1918, the food - for Vienna for example - had been produced in the plains of Hungary which was separated now. This provoked the anger of the Austrians against the Jews which had political power above all  in the banking system, and anti-Semitism blamed all Jews for this. The anti-Semitism came again from a big frustration. And that's why the Austrian population could not see any danger in Hitler and the union with the Third Reich. All hoped that all would become better, and after three months when Austria was a Nazi province many regretted the union bitterly...]].

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Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Austria,
                              vol. 3, col. 887-888
vergrössernEncyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Austria, vol. 3, col. 887-888
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Austria,
                              vol. 3, col. 889-890
vergrössernEncyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Austria, vol. 3, col. 889-890
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Austria,
                              vol. 3, col. 891-892
vergrössernEncyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Austria, vol. 3, col. 891-892
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Austria,
                            vol. 3, col. 893-894
vergrössernEncyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Austria, vol. 3, col. 893-894
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Austria,
                            vol. 3, col. 895-896
vergrössernEncyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Austria, vol. 3, col. 895-896
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Austria,
                            vol. 3, col. 897-898
vergrössernEncyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Austria, vol. 3, col. 897-898
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Austria,
                            vol. 3, col. 899-900
vergrössernEncyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Austria, vol. 3, col. 899-900
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Austria,
                              vol. 3, col. 901-902
vergrössernEncyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Austria, vol. 3, col. 901-902
Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Austria,
                            vol. 3, col. 903-904
vergrössernEncyclopaedia Judaica 1971: Austria, vol. 3, col. 903-904

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