In mid-March 1938, the Nazis and their followers (Austrian and German) began a wild and rapid expropriation of Austrian Jewish property, hand-in-hand with the extreme intimidation of and violence towards all Jewish persons.
A plebiscite in Austria on April 10, 1938 resulted in over 99 percent of the eligible population - Jews and other "unwanted" citizens were not allowed to vote - voting in favor of the Nazi German annexation. Of an eligible 4.3 million voters, 4.287 million voted in favor. A mere 12,000 voted against.
On April 27, 1938 all Jews with total assets (in real estate, personal possessions, bank or savings accounts, securities, insurance policies, pension payments, etc.) worth more than ATS 7,500 ($2,000) were ordered to declare them by the end of June 1938 (Vermögenserklärungen). These assets of 47,768 valid declarations totaled over $800 million at that time. The Nazi authorities wanted to loot these assets, which would contribute to their war preparations. Private Nazis looted these assets as contributions to their own pockets.
The night of November 8-9, 1938 there were violent riots, wild arrests, and the burning of synagogues and Jewish prayer houses (known as Kristallnacht - or "the night of broken glass"). Some Jews were sent to the Austrian concentration camp Mauthausen. Others were sent to firms, construction sites, etc. as forced laborers.
By December 3, 1938, there was an "order regarding the use of Jewish assets." By February 1939, the head of a major Nazi-controlled Austrian bank consortium, Hans Rafelsberger, noted that 77.6 percent of the Aryanization of Jewish shops and businesses (of a total of more than 36,000) that were to be kept functioning (about 4,000) had been achieved. The majority had gone to Nazi Party members.
Within months of the Anschluss, all Jews were ordered to move to Vienna, and then eventually to the 2nd district (Leopoldsstadt, where the slight majority of Jews in Vienna lived before the Anschluss and where once there was a Jewish ghetto).
Soon, SS 2nd Lieutenant Adolf Eichmann (like Adolf Hitler, a native of Austria), established a system, a "model" in Austria for solving "the Jewish problem": evict the Jews and keep as much of their assets as possible. He set up a Central Office of Jewish Emigration (in the "Aryanized" Rothschild palace, 20-22 Prinz-Eugen-Strasse, Vienna’s 3rd district, across from the Belvedere).
Letter from SS Untersturmführer Eichmann to Herbert Hagen, May 8, 1938:
For those lucky enough to escape, the price was heavy: special taxes of all sorts (for visas, passports, health certificates, etc.). Some had to renounce from ever returning to the "land of the German Reich" (see Walter Grab, "Jessas, der Herr Grab is zruckkumma!" in Wiener Journal, Dez/Jän 2000/2001). Most left everything behind.
The first deportations of Austrian Jews began in October 1939, when about 1,500 Jews were deported to Nisko. Few returned. Between February and March 1941, another 5,000 altogether were deported to Poland (Opole, Kielce, Modliborzyce, Lagow).
By December 1940, there were still about 50,000 to 60,000 Jews living in Vienna. They were mostly unemployed, evicted from their homes and living with other families, crammed into "collective" apartments, their bank accounts blocked or frozen; in short, they were barely surviving.
October 15, 1941 marked the beginning of the first systematic deportations of Jews from Vienna to the Lodz Ghetto (Litzmannstadt). Soon thereafter, deportations to Minsk, Riga and Terezin (Theresienstadt) followed. July 17, 1942 was the first deportation of 995 persons directly to Auschwitz. Many more followed, including of Jews who happened to be in Austria at this time (i.e., non-Austrians); in 1944 this included Hungarian Jews. The deportations continued into 1945. By the end of the war there were approximately 5,000 Jews left in Austria.
The main countries where the persecuted, surviving Austrian Jews were living in 1945:
Source: Jonny Moser, Demographie der jüdischen Bevölkerung Österreichs 1938-1945, DÖW, Vienna,1999.