Jewish Refugees in Austria between World Wars
When the Habsburg monarchy fell apart at the end of World War I, many refugees from the various regions of the Empire who fled to Vienna were suddenly considered as foreigners. The Jewish communities in Austria had to care for the refugees still in the country and for the growing number of emigrants and transients for whom the authorities would no longer provide support. Modeled on similar German organizations, an organization for assistance to Jewish migrants in Austria Organization fuer juedische Wanderfuersorge in Oesterreich was founded in 1930 that co-operated with the German headquarter and the World Association for Jewish Emigration (HICEM). One of its main aims was to prevent people from having to wander from place to place, and instead to send them straight to their final destination, avoiding humiliation and waste of resources.
The Nazi seizure of power in 1933 in Germany brought an influx of Jewish refugees to Austria. Between April 1933 and April 1936, some 3,186 persons received assistance, of them 1,438 were enabled to emigrate elsewhere.
Jewish Emigration from Austria during 1930 - 1937
Jewish Emigration from Austria during 1938 - 1945
Unlike German Jews who experienced a steady, but gradual decline of their legal situation during the first five years of Nazi regime, Austrian Jews did not have much time to prepare for emigration after the annexation of Austria and the outburst of violence and terror immediately following it in March 1938. German Jews were often able to save part of their property as a basis for existence in a new country and they could emigrate with relative ease to Palestine, the United States and Western Countries. Austrian Jews in general were less well established and they were robbed of all their property before being allowed to leave the country. The main obstacle, however, was that they found the doors of virtually every country closed to them.
The Jewish community tried feverishly to organize vocational training in the hope that some kind of skilled qualification would help to get a visa. In the first year after the annexation, some 42,000 men and women received training in domestic service, clothing, metal-working industry and agriculture. Until the outbreak of the war, foreign Jewish aid organizations helped with soup kitchens in Vienna and paid the costs of emigration.
In August 1938 the "Central Office for Jewish Emigration" was set up in Vienna. This organization, led by Adolf Eichmann, organized the expulsion and then persecution and deportation of Austrian Jews with such efficiency that its methods were copied in Germany.
Between 1938 and 1945 a total of 126,500 Jews managed to leave Austria, among them 55,505 escaped to other European countries: 30,850 Jews moved to the UK, 28,700 to the USA, 18,120 to China (mostly Shanghai), 11,580 to Central and South America, 9,195 to Palestine, and the remaining found a haven in some 85 countries all over the world. Of the 17,622 who fled to European countries which were later occupied by the Germans, approximately 13,000 died in concentration camps.