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Encyclopaedia Judaica

Jews in Austria 05: From 1938-1945

Annexation 1938 - Nazi law and emigration - deportations

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

presented by Michael Palomino (2007)

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<The Holocaust.
(1) 1938-1939.

The liquidation of Austrian Jewry began with the Anschluss (annexation) to Germany on March 13, 1938 [[war of flowers: The population was cheering the Wehrmacht and throw only flowers to the German soldiers]].

[[Percecution of the Jews in Austria: 181,778 or 220,000 persons counted as Jews - deprivation of rights]

According to the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde [[Israelite cult community]], the Jewish community of Vienna, there were at the time 181,778 Jews in Austria, of whom 91.3% (165,946) were living in Vienna. According to Himmler's statistics however, the number of Austrian Jews persecuted under the *Nuremberg Laws [[with non-Aryans: half Jews, quarter Jews, and 3/4 Jews]] reached 220,000; in addition, tens of thousands of persons of Jewish descent were affected by the racial laws.

The new Nazi regime immediately introduced decrees and perpetrated acts of violence of an even greater scope and cruelty than those then practiced in the Reich itself. The Jews were denied basic civil rights, and they and their property were at the mercy of organized and semi-organized Nazi gangs. The activities of Jewish organizations and congregations were forbidden.

[Imprisonments - attacks against Jewish intelligentsia and property owners]

Many Jewish leaders were imprisoned, and several were murdered in *Dachau Concentration Camp. A fine of 800,000 schillings ($30,800) was imposed on the Jewish communities. At the same time, the first pogroms took place in Vienna and in the provinces, and synagogues, including the Great Synagogue of Vienna, were desecrated and occupied by the German army.

The main victims of systematic terrorization were the Austrian Jewish intelligentsia and property owners. The former were immediately banned from any public activity, from educational and scientific institutions and from the arts. Many of them - including Sigmund Freud, Stefan Zweig, and Hermann *Broch - were among the first Austrian Jewish refugees. The biggest property owners were arrested by the Gestapo and forced to turn over their property. Some of those who refused were murdered and many others were sent to Dachau, where they were either killed or committed (col. 898)

suicide. In addition, street attacks and brutal persecution became daily occurrences in lives of Austrian Jews of all social classes. In March alone, 311 cases of suicide were registered in the Viennese community, and in April, 267. During these two months, at least 4,700 Jews escaped from Austria.

[Deportations - Jewish stream to Vienna - emigration - vocational training for emigration - Jewish schooling]

Systematic deportation of Jews and the confiscation of their property began in several Austrian provinces.The ancient Jewish communities of *Burgenland were deported over the Czech border. A group of 51, who were returned to Austria, was sent up and down the Danube for four months and denied entry to all the countries bordering on the river.

As a result of the persecutions, a stream of Jews from the provinces, most of them destitute, began to flow to Vienna. In May 1938 the Viennese Jewish community renewed its activities  and several of its leaders were released from prison in order to help organize mass emigration which the Nazi authorities encouraged. The Zionist Palestine Office in Vienna was permitted to organize both legal and "illegal" emigration to Palestine. In the same month, the Nuremberg Laws were officially enforced in Austria.

In August 1938, under *Eichmann's aegis, the "Zentralstelle fuer juedische Auswanderung" was established in Vienna. This organization was to be responsible for the "solution of the Jewish problem" in Austria. Its "efficient" methods of persecution and deportation were later copied in Germany and in several of the Nazi-occupied countries.

A special body, the Vermoegensverkehrsstelle [[asset transfer office]], was responsible for the transfer of Jewish property to non-Jews. With the help of the major Jewish welfare organizations in the world, the community and the Palestine Office were able to assist in the emigration of thousands of Jews. The importance of this aid grew with the straitened circumstances of Austrian Jewry; as against 25% of the emigrants who needed financial assistance in May and July 1938, 70% needed assistance in July and August 1939. Between July and September 1938 emigration reached a monthly average of 8,600.

Hundreds of training courses were organized to prepare emigrants for new occupations in the countries of immigration. (In Vienna these had 31,306 participants up to the end of 1939). thousands of young people received agricultural training at the farm owned by the *He-Halutz Zionist movements (in August 1939, there were 1,801 people in 18 training camps) and *Youth Aliya wards received special agricultural and technical training.

The community also took care of those whose education had been interrupted by their expulsion from educational institutions, and of the thousands of Jews whose livelihoods had been taken from them and who were in urgent need of assistance.

[5 Oct. 1938: New anti-Semitic riots - 10 Oct. 1938: deportation of Czech Jews - 28 Oct. 1938: deportation of Polish Jews]

In October 1938 anti-Semitic riots again broke out and Jews were once more deported from various places. On the eve of the Day of Atonement (October 5) thousands of Jewish families were evicted from their homes in certain districts of Vienna and elsewhere, and ordered to leave the country, though this decree was subsequently canceled through the intervention of Eichmann.

On October 10, Hitler gave personal instructions "to act for the deportation of 27,000 Viennese Jews of Czech nationality". On October 28, thousands of Jews who were Polish nationals were deported into the no-man's-land on the German-Polish border. Of these, only 1,300 were able to cross the frontier. The rest remained in Austria as stateless persons (see *Germany).

[10 Nov. 1938: Kristallnacht - 1/3 of the fine is imposed on Austrian Jews]

During the pogroms of November 10 (see *Kristallnacht), approximately 8,000 Jews were arrested, and of these 5,000 were sent to Dachau. Six hundred and eighty others committed suicide or were murdered that single night. In Vienna alone, 42 synagogues were burned and 4,038 Jewish shops were looted. Almost all Jewish homes were destroyed and cemeteries desecrated. Synagogues were also destroyed in Graz, Salzburg, Klagenfurt, (col. 899)

Linz, Innsbruck, Baden, Eisenstadt, Berndorf, and Bad Voeslau. In Linz, all the Jewish inhabitants were arrested, and all Jews in the district were ordered to move to Vienna within three days. One-third of the fine of a billion marks ($83,300,000) imposed on the whole of the German Reich Jewry was levied on Austrian Jews.

During the November Pogroms employees of the Jewish community and the Palestine Office were released from prison and ordered to continue organizing emigration. Shortly afterward, they began publication of the official Jewish newspaper, Juedisches Nachrichtenblatt [[Jewish News]], under the supervision of the Gestapo. The paper appeared until the end of 1943, and was intended to inform the Jewish public of official decrees.

[April 1939: All Jews of Vienna are living in "Jewish streets" - August 1939: 66,260 Jews in Austria]

Most of those arrested during the pogroms were released before the end of April 1939, having agreed to leave the country as soon as possible. At the end of April 1939, under a special  law, almost all Austrian Jews were evicted from their homes, and most were gathered into certain streets in selected districts of Vienna.

By the eve of World War II 109,060 had succeeded in emigrating and only 66,260 Jews were left in Austria. Only 438 still lived outside Vienna while whole regions, such as Salzburg and Carinthia were devoid of Jews. With the exception of isolated cases, all were deprived of a livelihood and all 25,898 factories and places of business belonging to Jews had been confiscated and shut.

[September 1939: 17,000 Jewish visas cancelled - concentration camps - deportations]

With the outbreak of war in September 1939 emigration opportunities lessened, and 17,000 Jews possessing entry visas to enemy countries were forbidden to use them. In the new wave of arrests, hundreds of Austrian Jews were sent to concentration camps. All Jews lived under martial law and additional restrictions were imposed upon them. On October 20, 922 Viennese Jews were exiled to Nisko on the San River. (Some of the Nisko deportees succeeded in crossing the border into the Soviet Union; the remaining 152 were returned to Vienna in April 1940).

In November 1939 Eichmann informed the leaders of the community that all Jews who did not emigrate within one year would be exiled to occupied Poland. During the first four months of the war, 11,240 Jews succeeded in emigrating to neutral countries.

[End of 1939: 53,403 Jews in Austria - further vocational training and Jewish schooling - 24,000 aged and infirm]

Of the 53,403 persons registered with the Viennese community at the end of 1939 45,140 were dependent on social welfare. However, the community continued to arrange technical training in preparation for emigration, and 5,017 children of school age studied in its 14 educational institutions. Among the community's projected activities for 1940 was its own gradual dissolution, so that, by the end of that year, it would be merely an institution for the care of 24,000 aged and infirm, who were unable to emigrate.

[[Holocaust]] (2) 1940-1945

[1941: Deportations]

Between February and March 1941, desperate attempts to continue limited emigration resulted in the deportation of 5,000 Jews to five places in the *Lublin district. It is assumed that all met their death within the year, being murdered either locally or in the gas chambers of *Belzec. [[Probably it was mass shooting]].

From October to the beginning of November another 5,486 Jews were deported to the *Lodz Ghetto. After the official prohibition on emigration, there remained approximately 40,000 Austrian Jews. Very few could leave the country after this date.

[1938-1941: Emigration figures]

Of the 128,500 who had emigrated up to that time 30,800 had gone to England, 24,600 to other European countries, 28,600 to the United States, 9,200 to Palestine, and 39,300 to 54 other countries. At the end of 1941, with the Nazi occupation of territories in the Soviet Union, 3,000 Austrian Jews were deported to the ghettos of Riga, Minsk, and Kovno; many were put to death upon arrival in the vicinity of these ghettos.

[1942: Evacuation program for the remnant - dissolution of the cult community - new council of the elderly]

After the Wannsee Conference, Eichmann announced to the Viennese community his general Aussiedlung ("evacuation") program under which 3,200 more Austrian Jews were (col. 900)

deported to Riga, 8,500 to Minsk, and 6,000 to Izbica and several other places in the Lublin region. This last group was almost entirely exterminated. Between June and October, 13,900 people were deported to *Theresienstadt, most of them aged 65 and over. On Oct. 10, 1942, the last transport of 1,300 persons left for Theresienstadt. The Viennese Jewish community was officially dissolved on Nov. 1, 1942. There still remained 7,000 Jews in Austria (about 8,000 according to the Nuremberg Laws).

The majority were spared because they were married to non-Jews. All able-bodied persons were compelled to do forced labor. The Aeltestenrat der Juden in Wien [[Council of Jewish Elders of Vienna]] was formed to replace the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde. It represented Austrian Jewry in dealing with the authorities, and was responsible for running the Jewish hospital, the home for the aged, the soup kitchen, and burying the dead. This council was headed by Josef Loewenherz until the end of the war.

[1943-1945: Deportations - Jews in Vienna - Hungarian Jews]

Isolated deportation continued from January 1943 until March 1945, and consisted of not more than a hundred persons in each transport. At least 216 Jews were sent to *Auschwitz and 1,302 Jews to Theresienstadt. Most of the victims were former communal workers, and Jews whose non-Jewish spouses had died.

In the summer of 1943, there were still approximately 800 Jews left in Vienna. They had gone underground and were secretly helped by members of the community and the Budapest Jewish rescue committee (Va'adat ha-Hazzalah). A few managed to escape to Hungary, but many others were caught by the Gestapo and sent to Auschwitz. Some managed to stay underground until Vienna fell to the Soviet Army.

In July and December 1944, approximately 60,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Vienna and Lower Austria, to be employed by the Nazis in building fortifications. A few were permitted to receive treatment at the Vienna Jewish hospital. Just before Vienna was liberated, (col. 901)

1,150 were deported to Theresienstadt. During the last months of the war, thousands of Jewish evacuees from various concentration camps crossed Austria. A few remained in Vienna and the Vienna district or [?] were transferred to Austrian camps. The remnant of the Viennese Jewish community organized itself into a committee to save the victims, and extended help to them in conjunction with the International Red Cross and Jewish welfare organizations. A report by the Red Cross representative described the last synagogue in the Third Reich located in the cellar of the Viennese Jewish hospital.


Of the approximately 50,000 Jews deported from Austria to ghettos and extermination camps only 1,747 returned to Austria at the end of the war. (The largest group of survivors, which numbered 1,293, was liberated from the Theresienstadt Ghetto).

[Captivations 1940]

Among the Austrian victims of the Holocaust there were over 20,000 Austrian Jews who had migrated to other European countries later conquered by the Nazis.

[Number of the victims: 70,000 estimated]

The number of Austrian Jewish victims of the Holocaust is estimated at 70,000. One of the largest and most terrible of concentration camps, *Mauthausen, where thousands of European Jews met their death, was situated in Austria. A large part in the campaigns to exterminate European Jewry was played by Austrian Nazis, including Eichmann, *Globocnik, *Kaltenbrunner and Hitler himself. After the war, a documentation committee was set up in Vienna for the tracing and prosecution of Nazi war criminals.

[D.K.]> (col. 902)

[[Supplement: Intense anti-Semitism in Austria and the reasons

In Austria several feelings against the Jews came together which were element of the propaganda:
-- collapse of the stock market of 1873 and government help for Jewish banks but not for Austrian citizens
-- collapse of Austria-Hungary of 1918 and Jewish dominance in important parts of the Austrian economy 1918-1938
-- Jewish communism since 1918 in Russia and some Jewish communist republics 1918-1919 in Europe
-- collapse of the stock market of 1929 and general accusations and no help of the government to Austrian citizens.

The regime of hunger was an important element to agitate against the Jews, and in Austria this happened several times, more than in Germany. Add to this the Austrian Nazis possibly felt obliged to Hitler because Hitler was Austrian too]].

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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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