The Holocaust in Austria: Jewish Property

Figure 1.--Here bargain hunters gathered for an auction of household goods expropriated from home of deported Jews in the Hanau area 1942.e bidstelle Hanau Franz Weber. Assume it is something organised by a Nazi Depaftment for selling expropriated Jewish household things. The boy and girl might be hoping for toys.

The Holocaust began in Germny with The elimination of the civil rights for Jews and the theft of their property. This involved the gradual but systematic theft of Jewish real estate, businesses, and other property for the benefit of non-Jews. At first there was 'pressure' to sell their homes and businesses at fire sale prices. They gradually became forced sales in which Jews often received little or no proceeds from the 'sale'. Arier (Aryans) Germans were basically provided a legal process for stealing Jewish property. The process was Arisierung (Aryanization). Theft of property may sound like a small matter in comparison to what followed, but it was an important part of the process. Stripped of property the Jews were even more defenless and less able to flee the country. It was also terribly demoralizung. This process was conducted over several years in Germany. In Austria it occured within a much shorter period of time after the Anschluss. Austria was the first country seized by the NAZIs and thus established the precedent and procedures for the Aryanization process implemented in the many other countries that the NAZIs would occupy. In Austria the NAZI used the legal tools privided by Reich law, but even before this could be implemented, estatic Austrians began ransacking and plundering Jewish property. NAZI authorities issued regulations against looting, but there was little enforcemnent. Along with the looting, Jews were also publicly degraded and humiliated on the street. Jews were forced to scrub the sidewalks and streets with with brushes surrionded by cheering onlookers enjoying the spectacle. Thousands oif Jews were arrested. Many Jews dispairing of their future committed suiside. [Witek and Safrian] NAZI officials quickly soon systematised the theft of Jewish property. Within weeks of the Anhsluss, the Decree on the Registration of Jewish property required Jews to register assets of more than RM 5000 as ell as pay substantial taxes (April 1938). Jews had to prepare detailed property declarations of all their assets. This included real estate as well as art, furniture, and household objects This was then sized. NAZI officials night keep the best items and often auction the rest. The process was further systemized by creating the Vermögensverkehrstelle (Assets Transfer Office) (May 1938). The whole process was even more frightening because so many men (heads of the household) had been arrested and transported to Dacau and other conebhtration camps. This system which SS functionary Adolf Eichmann in the Jewish Department, Section II/112 of the SD, helped implement would be the model for looting Jewish property throughout NAZI occupied Europe. Eichmann would be put in vchsrge of deporting Austrian Jews which led to more propety to be processed. The desire to systemize the process was not to protect Jews, but rather to ensure that NAZIs officials and the NAZI state go a substanhial share of the proceeds. Austrians began denouncing their Jewish neighbors. Landlords began terminating leases. In addition the theft of their property and the firing of Jewish professionals and workers meant many Jews could not pay rents. Large numbrs of Jews had to move into cramped quarters which meant that they could take very little of their furtiture and household property with them. Much of this was documnted in the photographic record. One photograph showed a store room filled with pianos removed from Jewish homes. Another photograph shows a warehouse full of boxed Jewish belongings. And we see crowds including children attending house sales of Jewish property. We also notice newspapers with classified ads from Jews trying to sell their belonings before they were seized. Most of this took place in Vienna here most Austria Jews lived. [Botz]


Johnson, Etta, "Goodbye to Austria," The Washington Post (May 28, 2004), p. W11.

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Created: 92:48 PM 5/15/2018
Last updated: 2:48 PM 5/15/2018