The nazification of Vienna and the response of the Viennese Jews / Ilana Fritz Offenberger
Includes bibliographical references (p. 356-376)
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Electronic version from ProQuest
The aim of my dissertation is to focus on the pre-genocidal period of the Holocaust by examining Jewish life in Vienna just after the Nazi-takeover in 1938. My purpose is to look beyond the stereotypes that have been formed about this community, and beyond the famous names and faces. Who were Vienna's Jews, how did they react and respond to Nazism, and why?I draw upon the voices of the individuals and families who lived during this time, as well as traditional archival documentation to answer these questions. The stories of these ordinary persons have been elided in historical narratives about post-Anschluss Vienna, either overshadowed by the great names, or slipping into the cracks of history, appearing only in general assumptions about this community. The most common myth is that Vienna's Jews were the “lucky ones.” Other generalizations exist, too. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone who tried to get out of Vienna managed to do so. Not all those who had money or connections, or who were of the age group to go on a Kindertransport or with Youth Aliya, managed to get out of Vienna.Reconstructing the daily lives of Vienna's Jews from Anschluss in March 1938 through the entire Nazi occupation, I explain how over two-thirds of the Jewish community emigrated from the country, while one-third remained trapped. A vivid picture emerges of the hope that this community maintained until the bitter end—despite the sacrifices they made and the losses they suffered—and the co-dependent relationship they developed with their German masters. This is not a triumphant history. Although the overwhelming majority survived, the Jewish community that existed in Vienna before 1938, that contributed so richly to Viennese society and to western culture, was destroyed, never to be resurrected.The Germans murdered close to 65,000 Viennese Jews in the “final solution” and their family members who escaped the Reich before 1941 chose never to return; they remained dispersed across the world.
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