Real property, tenancy rights, personal property - expropriation during the Nazi era

Real property

Real property was aryanised soon after the "Anschluss". Jews were forced to sell their real property because they were no longer admitted to their professions and the basis for their livelihood was destroyed. At the same time they had to generate the funds required to pay discriminatory taxes and finance their flight from the country. Jewish property was transferred to non-Jewish owners and the proceeds were transferred to blocked accounts.

The new tax on registered Jewish assets (Judenvermögensabgabe) was imposed after the November Pogrom and proved an additional pressure on Jewish real property owners. With the decree of 3 December 1938 on the use of Jewish assets, Jews were forced to sell their property. "De-Jewification" of real property was now compulsory and decreed from above. The eleventh amendment to the Reich citizenship act of 25 November 1941 reflects the unscrupulous anti-Semitic practices of the Nazi regime. Deportation and subsequent murder of the former real property owners went hand in hand with these practices. The properties of expelled and deported Jews were now owned by the German Reich.

Jewish tenants

Only a few days after the "Anschluss" Jewish tenants were driven from their apartments. "Wild" aryanisation of apartments started on the spur of the moment. Armed Nazi party members as well as neighbours forcefully entered and looted apartments owned by Jews. At that point Jewish tenants were, however, still protected by the law.

A decree of 10 May 1939 allowed landlords to terminate tenancy agreements with Jewish tenants but did not force them to actually do so. Once their homes had been aryanised Jews often had to move from one lodging to another. Several families would have to share one apartment and live in very crowded conditions. They were later moved to collecting points from where they were deported to concentration camps.

Personal Jewish property

The looting and confiscation of personal property such as household items, jewellery, books, works of art and cultural objects began right after the "Anschluss" and lasted for several weeks without any orders or instructions to do so. Perpetrators included members of the NSDAP, the SS and SA but also parts of the local population. On the night of 9 November 1938, known as Kristallnacht or Night of Broken Glass, Jewish shops were looted, Jewish homes vandalized, and Jews were beaten and abused.

Heinrich Himmler's order of 30 July 1938 entitled the state police to auction personal property confiscated in Austria. The Dorotheum played a leading role in the expropriation and utilisation of confiscated property. The Vugesta, the "Gestapo Office for the Disposal of the Property of Jewish Emigrants" was established in September 1940 and pursued private interests while striving to bring about the "de-Jewification" of society in a manner the "Aryan" population would benefit from as well. Mass deportations began in February 1941 as did sales auctions in Vienna. Everything, even the victims' last belongings, was auctioned. With the eleventh amendment to the Reich citizenship act of 25 November 1941 Jewish property was automatically transferred to the German Reich. The Dorotheum and other auction houses as well as private antiques stores, public museums, scientific institutions such as the University of Vienna and the national library benefitted from these activities.

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