With the annexation (Anschluss) of Austria to the Nazi Germany on 13 March, 1938, the fate of Austrian Jews changed dramatically. By 1942 almost all of them (220,000 according to Nazi definition, 181,778 of them members of the IKG-Jewish community) had either been forced to emigrate or had been deported to concentration camps. 65,000 Austrian Jews did not survive the Holocaust.
In the first week following the annexation, Jews had to face an outburst of brutality, outright violence and plundering of their assets. Jewish women were forced to scrub political slogans from the previous Austrian government with their bare hands or with toothbrushes off sidewalks, Jewish children to write the word "Jud" on the windows of their fathers' shops, orthodox Jews were pulled around by their beards, Jews at the Prater Stern had to lie down and eat grass. These attacks ended soon, but more and worse was to come. By mid-June, Jews had already been removed from public life, more thoroughly than in the five years of Nazi government in Germany. Tens of thousands of Jewish employees had lost their job. Hundreds of Jews committed suicide.
The 'Kristallnacht' merely completed the destruction of the Jewish community. Nazi violence resumed again already in early October, when thousands of Jewish families were evicted from their homes on the eve of Yom Kippur. In mid October, several places of worship and Jewish-owned stores were damaged. Two days before the planned burning of synagogues, the Nazi daily "Voelkischer Beobachter" reported the location of Jewish synagogues in Vienna. The members of the SS and the Hitler Youth, the principal perpetrators of the pogrom in Vienna, were ordered to leave their uniforms at home and not plunder. All but one of the 24 temples and synagogues and 70 prayer houses in Vienna were destroyed by arson, were looted and desecrated. Over 4,000 shops were plundered. Nearly 2,000 apartments in the first district alone were "Aryanized" by the SA, which destroyed furniture and mattresses while searching for valuables. 27 Jews were murdered, 88 seriously injured, nearly 8,000 Jews were arrested in Austria and some of them were sent to Dachau. Synagogues were also burnt in Graz, Salzburg, Klagenfurt, Linz, Innsbruck, Baden, Eisenstadt, Berndorf and Bad Voeslau.
Anti-Jewish laws were implemented soon after the annexation. After introducing the numerus clausus for Jewish students, the few remaining students were excluded from the universities after December 8, 1938. In April 1938, 16,000 primary and secondary pupils were moved to segregated classes and later transferred to eight Jewish schools. At the end of the school year 1939, these schools were closed. On May 20, 1938, the "Nuremberg Laws" were introduced to Austria. 34,500 people so far not registered as Jews were declared "racial Jews". After July 2, 1938 Jews were not allowed to enter most public parks, at the end of September 1938 Jewish lawyers and physicians lost the right to have non-Jewish customers. Shortly after the 'Kristallnacht' Jews were not allowed to go out during certain times of the day. Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, Jews were not allowed to listen to the radio and forbidden to go out after 8pm, which facilitated mass arrests always made at night. After September 1, 1941, Jews over the age of six had to wear the Star of David. In 1942, the few Jews still living in Vienna were forbidden to use public transportation, go to non-Jewish hairdressers or buy newspapers.
The outburst of violence and the legal and economic changes immediately after the Anschluss made it entirely clear to most Austrian Jews that they had to leave the country as soon as possible. The IKG lost its autonomy on March 18, 1938 and was reduced to welfare and emigration (and later deportation) assistance. It organized technical training courses and agricultural training for over 42,000 Jews to help them finding a job in another country.
In August 1938 the "Central Office for Jewish Emigration" was set up in Vienna. This organization, led by Adolf Eichmann, organized the persecution and deportation of Austrian Jews with such efficiency that its methods were copied in Germany. A special body was responsible for the transfer of Jewish property to "Aryans".
Obtaining an immigration visa was difficult, since most countries were reluctant to accept Jewish refugees. Before one could leave Austria, the Nazis made sure to enrich the Third Reich by robbing Jews of all their possessions. They were allowed to take only 30 Marks (later only 10) with them when they left Austria. Until the outbreak of the war, foreign Jewish aid organizations helped with soup kitchens in Vienna and paid the costs of emigration. By the end of November 1939, over 120,000 Jews had left Austria. 66,260 Jews remained in Austria along with about 30,000 "racial" Jews according to Nuremberg Laws. Before legal emigration ended in November 1941, another 2,000 managed to escape. 30,850 Jews moved to Great Britain, 28,615 to the USA, China took 18,124 refugees (most of them settled in Shanghai), and 9,195 managed to flee to Palestine. Others found a haven in some 85 countries all over the world.
The deportation of Austrian Jews to concentration camps began in October 1939, shortly before legal emigration was stopped. Nearly 1,000 Jews were exiled to Nisko on the San River. In November 1939 Eichmann told the IKG that all Jews who did not emigrate within one year would be deported to occupied Poland. Between February and March 1941, 5,000 Jews were deported to the Lublin district. From October to the beginning of November, 5,486 Jews were deported to the Lodz Ghetto. At the end of 1941, after the Nazi occupation of parts of the Soviet Union, 3,000 Austrian Jews were deported to the ghettos of Riga, Minsk and Kovno. After the Wannsee Conference, Eichmann announced his "evacuation programme" which deported 3,200 Austrian Jews to Riga, 8,500 to Minsk, 6,000 to Izbica and other places in the Lublin region. Between June and October, 13,900 elderly people were deported to Theresienstadt. On October 10, 1942, the last transport of 1,300 persons left for Theresienstadt. The IKG was officially dissolved on November 1, 1942. The majority of the remaining 7,000 Austrian Jews (8,000 according to the Nuremberg Laws) were spared because they were married to non-Jews, but they were sentvto forced labour and faced deportation when their non-Jewish spouse had died. The "Aeltestenrat der Juden in Wien" replaced the IKG; it represented the last remnant of Austrian Jews towards the authorities, ran the hospital, the home for the elderly, a soup kitchen and burial services.
About 800 Jews lived underground in the summer of 1943. In July and December 1944 around 60,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Vienna and Lower Austria and exploited in forced labour. 1,150 of them were deported to Theresienstadt just before the liberation of Vienna. During the last months of the war, thousands of Jewish evacuees from concentration camps crossed Austria.
In addition to the approximately 50,912 Jews deported from Austria to ghettos and extermination camps, another 17,050 were arrested in other European countries after the Germans occupied them. Only 1,747 Jews returned to Austria after the end of the war. The largest group of Austrian Jews, 1,293, survived in Theresienstadt.
Austrians played a major part in the planning and administration of the deportation and extermination of European Jews. Not only were Eichmann, Globocnik, Kaltenbrunner, Brunner and Hitler himself Austrians, but Austrians constituted 40% of the staff in the death camps and 13-14% of the SS. The Austrian concentration camp at Mauthausen (near Linz) was one of the largest and harshest camps within the Third Reich, where prisoners were worked to death in quarries within a few months.