Expulsion, Deportation and Murder - History of the Jews in Vienna

From racist mania to genocide

To the acclaim of numerous bystanders, Jews are forced to wash the roads

By far too many looked on and did nothing.

Already in the 1930s, religiously and politically motivated anti-Semitism in Vienna was compounded by racial anti-Semitism. The entry of Hitler's army into Austria in March 1938 triggered unprecedented suffering and hardship for Vienna's Jews. Grave acts of violence against the Jewish population began to proliferate. Jewish Citizens were quite openly brutalised and forced into the most humiliating chores. Hitler's racist mania found its first culmination in the Nuremberg Racial Laws, which robbed the Jewish population of practically all property and civil rights. Jews were forced to wear the yellow star and had to assume the first names "Sara" or "Israel". Many shops and assets were expropriated ("Aryanised"); those able to escape faced an uncertain future, deprived of their possessions and without a basis for their livelihood.


Destruction inside the City Temple

The City Temple in ruins

In the November pogrom of 9 to 10 November 1938, synagogues and prayer houses were burned down; Jewish shops were looted and vandalised. This "spontaneous eruption of public anger" ordered by Adolf Hitler was nothing but drastic: with the exception of the City Temple in Seitenstettengasse, all Jewish places of worship were razed to the ground. Jews were kicked and battered; numerous victims were killed. And again, many preferred to look away.


Who can remember all names, count all victims?

A member of the SS oversees the loading of the luggage of Viennese Jews singled out for deportation

Mass deportations of Viennese Jews started in October 1941.

The formerly flourishing Jewish community of Vienna was all but obliterated by the National Socialists. By May 1939, roughly 130,000 persons considered Jews under the Nuremberg Racial Laws had left the country that once had been called "Austria", their homeland. One figure suffices to give an idea of this loss: in 1938, approximately 206,000 persons of Jewish extraction (181,000 of which were members of the Jewish Community of Vienna) had been living in the Austrian capital.

Over 65,000 Jews were murdered in concentration and extermination camps. They are part of the six million victims of a mass murder organised with mathematical precision. We owe these victims the solidarity and respect due to them and their suffering.


Famous personalities and ordinary citizens - Many went away

Arnold Schönberg

Arnold Schönberg emigrated to the US in already 1933.

Few European cities have a history as closely connected with Judaism and Jewish history as Vienna. And many of those who made this history and are part of it were driven away to other countries. This goes for Sigmund Freud as well as for the Jewish shop-keepers from Leopoldstadt. After 1938, Vienna lost many inhabitants who - each in his or her own sphere of life - had contributed much to the flowering of this city. They lost their roots, language and identity. Their possessions were seized by others. Those who went away left a void that can never be filled again.

Contact for this page:
Dr. Ingeborg Bauer-Manhart (Municipal Department 53)
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