Until 1938, Vienna had a flourishing Jewish community with dozens of synagogues and prayer houses. The prevalent anti-Semitism of the time provided fertile grounds for the racism and terror of the Nazis, which started immediately after the occupation of Austria by the German Wehrmacht in March of 1938. Any Jew who owned something, was robbed: through “Aryanization,“ his property came into the possession of the state or of private persons who could “buy” at low prices. Both as famous as Sigmund Freud or as modest as a shoemaker or homemaker, 140,000 Austrians had to flee the country for “racial reasons”; 65,000 who could not escape were murdered. Since 2021, they have been remembered by a Shoah memorial wall in Ostarrichi Park, where the names of the murdered Jews are engraved on granite panels.
Coming to terms with the largest crimes in the history of Vienna and Austria is a process that has lasted decades and is still not finished. Since the eighties (the Jewish Welcome Service was founded in 1980), the City of Vienna has made increased efforts to show the history and Jewish heritage in all its complexity.
Visit the Jewish Museum (at Palais Eskeles in Dorotheergasse), the Museum Judenplatz (with the subterranean remains of a medieval synagogue), the Holocaust Memorial at Judenplatz and the Memorial against War and Fascism at Albertinaplatz. A large region with tombs from the time before 1938 can be found in the Jewish section of the Central Cemetery (Access: 1st Door). In Vienna's district Rudolfsheim-Fuenfhaus the Audio Guide Vienna 15 (by mobile phone) leads to ten rememberance-sites: Listen to people who knew the former Jewish community.
The Vienna Eruv
Since autumn 2012, an Eruv, like the one before the National Socialist era, has existed again after many years of preparations. The Eruv roughly covers the area between the Gürtel and the Danube. The 25-km long border defines a private space in which the ban on carrying is repealed for orthodox Jews on the Sabbath. More information: www.eruv.at
Freud and Schönberg
Sigmund Freud was able to emigrate to England in 1938 with the help of Marie Bonaparte. At his former address in the ninth district, Berggasse 19, since the 1970s the Sigmund Freud House has been a museum.
The Viennese Arnold Schönberg worked in Berlin when the Nazis gained power in 1933. In the same year they expelled him and he emigrated to the USA (Schönberg Center).
Service, information & Jewish Walking Tours
Multilingual information and services about Jewish life in Vienna then and now can be found at the Jewish Welcome Service as well as at the Infopoint Jewish Vienna.
Jewish walking tours through Vienna in German and English can also be booked through the Infopoint Jewish Vienna on the following subjects:
- Jewish Vienna in the inner city
- Glorious Ringstrasse walking tour: The history behind the façades
- Walking tour through Leopoldstadt, the best-known district of Jews in Vienna today
Reservations and dates: www.ikg-wien.at/infopoint, email@example.com, tel. +43 1 53 104-169
Brochure "Jewish Vienna"
More information about Jewish Vienna provides the brochure "Jewish Vienna – Heritage and Mission"
Jewish Welcome Service Vienna