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Encyclopaedia Judaica

Jews in Austria 06: 1945-1970

Displaced persons - new Jewish community life and emancipation - Neo-Nazism - relations Austria-Israel and the "victim" theory

presented by Michael Palomino (2007)

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-- Austria; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, vol. 3
-- Neo-Nazism; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, Vol. 12

Postwar Period.

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

[1945-1953: DPs in Austria]

At the end of World War II, however, there were many displaced persons in Austria, most of them from Hungary. They had been sent to Austrian concentration camps during the last two years of the war. Their number was then estimated at about 20,000. Though some returned to their countries of origin after the liberation, post-war Austria had one of the largest concentrations of still unsettled Jewish displaced persons. It was the main transit country for Jewish refugees from Poland, Hungary, Rumania [[Romania]], and other East European countries, on their way to Italy and other Mediterranean countries, or to the main concentration of refugees in the American Zone of Germany. The number of displaced persons reached its peak in late 1946, when it was estimated at 42,500, of whom over 35,000 were in the American-occupied area of Austria, i.e., in the western part of the country.

The number then dropped, as a result of the flow of refugees to the coast, and particularly as a result of mass emigration following the establishment of the State of Israel. By 1953 only 949 refugees were left in displaced persons camps.

[1950 and 1965: Numbers of Jews in Austria - Austria is transit country for migrating Jews]

The number of Jews living in communities rose with the return of several thousand Jews from camps in Eastern Europe, from the countries to which they had fled (mainly Great Britain, China, and Palestine), and from their hiding-places. A small percentage of displaced persons settled in Austrian towns. The number of Jews in these communities reached a peak in 1950 with 13,396 registered. As in the past, the large majority lived in Vienna (12,450), and the rest in the capitals of the provinces (Laender) of Graz, Linz, Salzburg, and Innsbruck.

From 1950 their number began to decrease. In 1965, 9,537 persons were registered as members of the community, of whom 8,930 lived in Vienna. It is estimated that another 2,000 Jews, not registered as community members, lived in the country. Thereafter the number of Jews remained more or less stable, with a slight tendency to fall. The ancient communities of Burgenland, on the Austro-Hungarian border, which before the Anschluss [[annexation]] had numbered about 4,000 persons, were not rebuilt.

In 1968 nearly 65% of Austrian Jewry were aged 50 and over. Austria became a country of transit for (col. 902)

The Jewish migration from Eastern Europe to Israel and the West. In general, these travelers spent only a few days in Austria, in camps in and around Vienna. However, after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, about 20,000 Jewish refugees fled to Austria. Most continued on their way after a short while, between 200 and 300 remaining in Austria.

[since 1945: anti-Semitism and emancipation of Jews in Austria - claim settlement in 1962]

The tradition of anti-Semitism was not uprooted in Austria nor confined to ex-Nazis or Neo-Nazis, who found sanctuary in the Freiheit (Freedom) Party. Only a few months after the end of World War II, a leader of the large Christian Party (the People's Party), Leopold Kunschak, declared that he had always been anti-Semitic. This did not prevent his being elected president of the parliament. The universities were often the scene of anti-Semitic demonstrations; there have even been cases of professors boasting about their Nazi past.

[since 1945: Neo-Nazism in Austria]

(from: Neo-Nazism; In: Encyclopaedia Judaica 1971, Vol. 12)

<In Austria, Neo-Nazism lacked the organizational framework of a sufficiently numerous following to qualify as a politically relevant force. Among the minuscule groupings more or less openly committed to propagating Nazi ideas and extolling Nazi achievements, Theodor Soucek's Sozialorganische Bewegung Europas (SOBRE, [[Social Organic Movement of Europe]]) was perhaps the most noteworthy in the early 1950s. It tried to coordinate efforts of Nazi collaborators and sympathizers in the former occupied territories to revitalize the Hitlerian "new order" in the context of the then emerging Europe. SOBRE enjoyed the support of Konrad Windisch, one of the founders of the Bund Heimattreuer Jugend (BHJ, [[Confederation of Youth loyal to their home]]), whose initials HJ (for Hitler Jugend [[Hitler Youth]]) proclaimed its ideological lineage and (col. 955)

identification. Despite the insignificance of these movements, residual anti-Semitism and subliminal Nazi sympathies seemed to be more widespread in Austria than in Germany, thus the marked reluctance of Austrian authorities to prosecute and of juries to convict such war criminals and Eichmann aides as Murer, Novak, or Raiakovic and the parsimoniousness of Austrian restitution.> (col. 956)

The official attitude toward Nazi criminals, when brought to trial, was generally lenient; among the cases that aroused international indignation was the acquittal of the brothers Johann and Wilhelm Mauer, accused of mass murder in the Stanislaw ghetto. Public pressure caused their retrial and sentence. There was an anti-Semitic campaign against Bruno *Kreisky, a leader of the Social Democratic Party, of Jewish origin, who served for several years as foreign minister. After an election (victory in 1970 Kreisky became federal chancellor (prime minister), the first Jew to hold this high office.

Negotiations between the executive committee for Jewish claims on Austria, headed by Nahum *Goldmann, and the Austrian Government started in 1953, but the process of legislation on the return of property and the payment of (col. 903)

indemnification to victims of Nazi persecution was concluded only in 1962 and was considered inadequate.

[New Jewish community in Vienna]

The Viennese community reconstituted and renewed its activities almost immediately after the end of the war. The elections to the community committee were generally contested by the Bund Werktaetiger Juden ("Jewish Labor Federation"), the Zionist Federation, the Orthodox, and a quasi-Communist list. For many years, the Bund Werktaetiger Juden had an overall majority in the committee. Its delegate, Emil Maurer, president of the community from 1949 to 1963, was succeeded by Ernst Feldsberg, also a Bund delegate. The smaller communities joined the Viennese community in the Federation of Jewish Communities.

The only synagogue not destroyed during the November Pogrom in Vienna was the old Central Synagogue in the Seitenstettengasse. In addition, Vienna had two small houses of prayer in 1968. Akiva Eisenberg became chief rabbi in 1948. In 1968 there was a small Jewish day-school and two talmud torahs. About 400 pupils at non-Jewish schools received supplementary Jewish religious education. There was a Jewish hospital, and old people's home, and various charitable institutions. The burden of providing social assistance heavily taxed the community's budget.

Until the 1950s, the *American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee supplied over half of the community budget, but after that the financial situation in the community improved.

[CH.Y.]> (col. 904)

<Austria-Israel Relations.

[The agreement that Austria had been a "victim" by Nazi German violence]

The establishment of relations between Austria and Israel was involved with the question of whether the 1938 Anschluss [[annexation]] by which Austria became part of Nazi Germany, should influence the relations between the two countries. The government of Israel adopted the thesis that was at the basis of the Austrian "State Treaty"; that is, that Austria was the victim of Nazi aggression in 1938.

[[This is one of the biggest political lies in Europe. The Wehrmacht did not one single shoot and people cheered to the German soldiers]].

However, the adoption of this policy encountered obstacles of public opinion in Israel arising out of Austria's identification with Germany. Great significance was ascribed to Austria's unsatisfactory response to Jewish claims for restitution and indemnification for crimes committed by the Nazi regime in Austria.

This situation gradually changed as a result of Austria's friendly attitude to Israel in the context of the implementation of the "State Treaty", which imposed complete neutrality upon her. Austria's political stand at the UN, as well as in other international arenas, and her support of Israel during the *Six-Day War, contributed much to the development of friendly ties. Relations were established on a consular level almost immediately after the formation of the State of Israel. From 1956, normal diplomatic relations existed, which soon were on the ambassadorial level. Friendship leagues exist in the two states, as well as mutual chambers of commerce. Trade between Israel and Austria has steadily increased since 1948. In 1968 Israel exported $6.8 million worth of goods to Austria, headed by citrus fruits (of which Israel was the main supplier to Austria) and phosphates and chemicals. Austria exported $6.2 million worth of goods to Israel, chiefly timber and machinery.

[Y.ME.]> (col. 904)


-- J. Fraenkel (ed.): Jews of Austria (1967) includes bibliography
-- S. Eidelberg: Jewish Life in Austria in the XVth Century ... (1962)
-- D. van Arkel: Antisemitism in Austria (1966)
-- P.G.J. Pulzer: Rise of Political Antisemitism in Germany and Austria (1964)
-- idem, in: Journal of Central European Affairs, 23 (1963), 131-42
-- R.A. Kann: Study in Austrian Intellectual History (1960)
-- idem, in: JSOS, 10 (1948), 239-56
-- Silberner, in: JH, 13 (1951), 121-39
-- J.S. Bloch: Reminiscences (1927)
-- Freud, in: BLBI, 3 (1960), 80-100
-- J. von Wertheimer: Juden in Oesterreich, 2 vols. (1892)
-- J.E. Scherer: Rechtsverhaeltnisse der Juden in den deutsch-oesterreichischen Laendern (1901)> (col. 903-904)
[[-- Encyclopaedia Judaica: Neo-Nazism]]

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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