Jewish assets and insurance policies - expropriation during the Nazi era

Jewish assets

In March 1938 more than 200,000 persons in Austria were persecuted as Jews by the Nazi regime. Their total assets amounted to between 1.842 and 2.9 billion Reichsmark and between 25,000 and 36,000 businesses in Austria were Jewish. However, there was also a large number of Jews who had come to Austria from the eastern parts of the monarchy at the turn of the century and during the First World War and who lived in relative poverty.

The decree on the registration of Jewish property of 26 April 1938 ruled that all Jews and their spouses had to assess their entire capitalised income and assets in the country and abroad. Assets of more than 5,000 Reichsmark had to be registered.

Expropriation affected all types of property including household items of persons who were forced to move out of their homes and were later deported. Based on the eleventh amendment to the Reich citizenship act of 25 November 1941 all assets owned by Jews who had been expelled from the country were declared forfeited. Deported Jews were systematically robbed of their belongings in the ghettos and extermination camps, every dead person's gold teeth were removed. This was the Nazi regime's way of expropriating every bit of Jewish property.

Insurance policies

Jews were forced to stop paying premiums for their life insurances and sell their insurance policies to the insurance companies because they were no longer allowed to practice their professions, the basis for their livelihood had been destroyed and they needed money to leave the country. Insurance companies made generous withdrawal profits from these sales. The insurance premiums of emigrants were transferred to blocked accounts.

The insurance policies were used by the tax offices to cover (often fictitious) Jewish tax liabilities. Withdrawal profits were transferred to the German Reich.

With the 1938 November Pogrom all plate glass and similar insurances were cancelled. Jewish insurance holders were no longer paid compensation for damaged furniture, broken shop windows, windows and inventory of damaged synagogues and prayer houses because they did not have the policies to cover them. While insurance companies had to transfer the proceeds from these policies to the German Reich, policy holders were in fact forced to make additional payments. With the eleventh amendment to the Reich citizenship act, all Jewish insurance policies were considered confiscated as of 31 December 1941. From that day on Jews no longer had insurance coverage.

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City of Vienna | Chief Executive Office - Executive Group for Legal Affairs
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