The history of the Jews in Austria probably begins with the exodus of Jews from Judea under Roman occupation. Over the course of many centuries, the political status of the community rose and fell many times: during certain periods, the Jewish community prospered and enjoyed political equality, and during other periods it suffered pogroms, deportations to concentration camps and mass murder, and antisemitism. The Holocaust drastically reduced the Jewish community in Austria and only 8,140 Jews remained in Austria according to the 2001 census, but other estimates place the current figure at 9,000, 15,000 and 20,000 people, if accounting for those of mixed descent.
|Austrian Jews |
|Regions with significant populations|
|German, Yiddish, Hebrew|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Jews, Ashkenazi Jews, Sephardic Jews, Mizrahi Jews, German Jews, Czech Jews, Hungarian Jews, Russian Jews, Ukrainian Jews, Austrians.|
|Jewish population of Vienna|
according to census and particular area
|* = after expansion of Vienna|
Jews have been in Austria since at least the 3rd century AD. In 2008 a team of archeologists discovered a third-century CE amulet in the form of a gold scroll with the words of the Jewish prayer Shema Yisrael (Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one) inscribed on it in the grave of a Jewish infant in Halbturn. It is considered to be the earliest surviving evidence of a Jewish presence in what is now Austria. It is hypothesized that the first Jews immigrated to Austria following the Roman legions after the Roman occupation of Israel. It is theorized that the Roman legions who participated in the occupation and came back after the First Jewish–Roman War brought back Jewish prisoners, though this presumption has no concrete evidence.
A document from the 10th century that determined rights of equality between the Jewish and Christian merchants in Danube implies a Jewish population in Vienna at this point, though again, there is no concrete proof. The existence of a Jewish community in the area is only known for sure after the start of the 12th century, when two synagogues were created. In the same century, the Jewish settlement in Vienna increased with the absorption of Jewish settlers from Bavaria and from the Rhineland.
At the start of the 13th century, the Jewish community began to flourish. One of the main reasons for the prosperity was the recognition by Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor that the Jews were a separate ethnic and religious group, and were not bound to the laws that targeted the Christian population. Following this assumption, in July 1244, the emperor published a bill of rights for Jews, which encouraged them to work in the money lending business, encouraged the immigration of additional Jews to the area, and promised protection and autonomous rights, such as the right to judge themselves and the right to collect taxes. This bill of rights affected other kingdoms in Europe such as Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, Silesia and Bohemia, which had a high concentrations of Jews.
During this period, the Jewish population mainly dealt with commerce and the collection of taxes and also gained key positions in many other aspects of life in Austria. In 1204, the first documented synagogue in Austria was constructed. In addition, Jews went through a period of religious prosperity and a group of notable rabbis settled in Vienna and were later referred to as "the wise men of Vienna". The group established a beth midrash and it was considered to be the largest Talmudic school in Europe during that period.
The prosperity of the Jewish community caused increased jealousy from the Christian population and hostility from the church. In 1282, when the area became controlled by the Catholic House of Habsburg, Austria stopped being a religious center for the Jews.
Jews were largely hated because they acted as tax collectors and moneylenders. The earliest evidence of Jews collecting taxes appears in a document from 1320. During the same time, riots occurred against the Jews in the area. The Jewish population continued to decline in middle of the 14th century and at the start of the 15th century during the regime of Albert the Third and Leopold III. This period was characterized in the cancellations of many debts that would have been collected by Jews, the confiscation of Jewish assets, and the creation of economic limitations against them.
In middle of the 15th century, following the establishment of the anti-Catholic movement of Jan Hus in Bohemia, the condition of the Jewish population worsened as a result of accusations that the movement was associated with the Jewish community. In 1420, the status of the Jewish community hit a low point when a Jew from Upper Austria was charged with the desecration of the sacramental bread. This led Albert V to order the imprisonment of all of the Jews in Austria. Two hundred ten Jews were burnt alive in public and the rest were deported from Austria, leaving their belongings behind. In 1469, the deportation order was cancelled by Frederick the Third, who was known for his good relationship with the Jews and was even referred to at times as the "King of the Jews". He allowed Jews to return and settle in all the cities of Styria and Carinthia. Under his regime, the Jews gained a short period of peace (between 1440 and 1493).
In 1496, Maximilian I ordered a decree which expelled all Jews from Styria. In 1509, he passed the "Imperial Confiscation Mandate" which foresaw the destruction of all Jewish books, apart from one exception, the Bible.
The relative period of peace did not last long, and with the start of the regime of Ferdinand the First in 1556, though he also opposed the persecution of the Jews, he levied excessive taxes and ordered them to wear a mark of disgrace. Between 1564 and 1619, in the period of the regimes of Maximilian the second, Rudolf the Second and Matthias, the fanaticism of the Society of Jesus prevailed and the condition of the Jews worsened even more. Later on, during the regime of Ferdinand the Second in Austria, which in spite of that like his grandfather he opposed the persecution of the Jews and even permitted constructing a synagogue, he demanded a huge amount of tax from the Jewish population.
The nadir of the Jewish community in Austria arrived during the period of the regime of Leopold the First, a period in which Jews were persecuted frequently and were deported from different areas, including a deportation from Vienna in 1670, but gradually returned after several years. Jews also had to bear different laws—one of which permitted only first-born children to marry, in order to stop the increase of the Jewish population. Although Leopold the First treated the Jewish population severely, he had Samson Wertheimer, a Jewish economic advisor, working for him.
A Sabbateans movement, which was established during the same period of time, also reached the Jewish community in Austria, especially due to the rough condition of the Jews there, and many of them immigrated to the land of Israel in the footsteps of Sabbatai Zevi.
After the period of the religious fanaticism towards the Jewish population of the region, a period of relative tolerance began towards the Jewish population which was less noticeable during the reign of Maria Theresa of Austria. It reached its peak during the reign of Franz Joseph I of Austria, who was very popular among the Jewish population.
Upon the partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1772, the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, or simply "Galicia", became the largest, most populous, and northernmost province of the Austrian Empire. As a result of this, many Jews were added to the Austrian Empire and the empress, Maria Theresa, quickly legislated different laws aimed at regulating their rights and canceled Jewish autonomy in order to put the authority over the Jews in her hands instead.
Although the empress was known for her hatred of Jews, several Jews did work for her at her court. The empress made it mandatory that the Jewish population would start going to the general elementary schools, and in addition permitted them to join universities. Jewish schools did not exist yet during that time.
After Maria Theresa's death in 1780, her son Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor succeeded her and started working on the integration of the Jewish population into Austrian society. The emperor determined that they would be obligated to enlist to the army, and established governmental schools for the Jewish population. The 1782 Edict of Tolerance canceled different limitations that had been placed upon the Jewish population previously, such as the restriction to live only in predetermined locations and the limitation to certain professions. They were now allowed to establish factories, hire Christian servants and study at higher education institutions, but all this only on the condition that Jews would be obligated to attend school, that they would use German only in the official documents instead of Hebrew and Yiddish, that dorsal tax would be forbidden, that the trials held within the community would be condensed, and that those who would not get an education would not be able to marry before the age of 25. The emperor also declared that the Jewish population would establish Jewish schools for their children, but they opposed that because he forbade them organizing within the community and establishing public institutions. In the aftermath of different resistances, also from the Jewish party, which opposed the many conditions held upon them, and also from the Christian party, which opposed many of the rights given to the Jewish population, the decree was not fully implemented.
Upon his death in 1790, Joseph II was succeeded by his brother, Leopold II. After only two years of his reign, he died and was succeeded by his son Francis II, who continued working on the integration of the Jewish population into the wider Austrian society, but he was more moderate than his uncle. In 1812, a Jewish Sunday school was opened in Vienna. During the same period of time a number of limitations were placed on the Jewish population, such as the obligation to study in Christian schools and to pray in German.
Between 1848 and 1938, the Jewish Austrian population enjoyed a period of prosperity beginning with the start of regime of Franz Joseph I of Austria as the Emperor of the Austria–Hungary Empire, and dissolved gradually after the death of the emperor up to the annexation of Austria to Germany by the Nazis, a process that led to the start of the Holocaust in Austria.
Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria bestowed on the Jewish population equal rights, saying "the civil rights and the country's policy is not contingent in the people's religion". The emperor was well liked by the Jewish population, which, as a token of appreciation, wrote prayers and songs about him that were printed in Jewish prayer books. In 1849 the emperor canceled the prohibition against the Jewish population organizing within the community, and in 1852 new regulations of the Jewish community were set. In 1867 the Jewish population formally received full equal rights.
In 1869 the emperor visited Jerusalem and was greeted in great admiration by the Jewish population there. The emperor established a fund aimed at financing the establishment of Jewish institutions and in addition established the Talmudic school for rabbis in Budapest. During the 1890s several Jews were elected to the Austrian parliament.
During the regime of Franz Joseph and after, Austria's Jewish population contributed greatly to Austrian culture despite their small percentage in the population. Contributions came from Jewish lawyers, journalists (among them Theodor Herzl), authors, playwrights, poets, doctors, bankers, businessmen and artists. Vienna became a cultural Jewish center, and became a center of education, culture and Zionism. Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism, studied in the University of Vienna, and was the editor of the feuilleton of the Neue Freie Presse, a very influential newspaper at that time. Another Jew, Felix Salten, succeeded Herzl as the editor of the feuilleton.
Other notable influential Jews contributing greatly to Austrian culture included composers Gustav Mahler, Arnold Schoenberg, and the authors Stefan Zweig, Arthur Schnitzler, Karl Kraus, Elias Canetti, Joseph Roth, Vicki Baum and the doctors Sigmund Freud, Viktor Frankl and Alfred Adler, the philosophers Martin Buber, Karl Popper, and many others.
During this period, Vienna elected an antisemitic mayor, Karl Lueger. The emperor, Franz Joseph, was opposed to the appointment, but after Lueger was elected three consecutive times, the emperor was compelled to accept his election according to the regulations. During the period of his authority Lueger removed Jews from positions in the city administration and forbade them from working in the factories located in Vienna until his death in 1910.
The intertwining of the Jewish population and the attitude of the emperor towards them could also be seen in the general state of the empire. From the middle of the 19th century there started to be many pressures from the different nationalities living in the multinational House of Habsburg empire: the national minorities (such as the Hungarians, Czechs and Croatians) began demanding more and more collective rights; among German speakers, many started feeling more connected to Germany, which was strengthening. Under these circumstances, the Jewish population was especially notable for their loyalty to the empire and their admiration of the emperor.
Circa 1918, about 300,000 Jews in Austria were scattered in 33 different settlements. Most of them (about 200,000) lived in the capital city of Vienna.
The history of Austria during the First Republic was strongly influenced by Jews. Many of the leading heads of the Social Democratic Party of Austria and especially the leaders of the Austromarxism were assimilated Jews, for example Victor Adler, Otto Bauer, Gustav Eckstein, Julius Deutsch and also the reformer of the school system in Vienna, Hugo Breitner. Due to the Social Democratic Party being the only party in Austria that accepted Jews as members and also in leading positions, several Jewish parties that were founded after 1918 in Vienna, where about 10% of the population was Jewish, had no chance for gaining bigger parts of the Jewish population. Districts with high Jewish population rates, such as Leopoldstadt, the only districts where Jews formed about the half of the population, and the neighbouring districts Alsergrund and Brigittenau, where up to a third of the population was Jewish, had usually higher percentage rates of voters for the social democratic party than classical "worker"-districts.
In May 1923, Vienna hosted the First World Congress of Jewish Women in the presence of President Michael Hainisch, calling in particular for support for the relocation of Jewish refugees in Palestine.
Also the cultural contribution of Jews reached its peak. Many famous writers, film and theatre directors (for example Max Reinhardt, Fritz Lang, Richard Oswald, Fred Zinnemann and Otto Preminger) actors (i.e. Peter Lorre, Paul Muni) and producers (i.e. Jacob Fleck, Oscar Pilzer, Arnold Pressburger), architects and set designers (i.e. Artur Berger, Harry Horner, Oskar Strnad, Ernst Deutsch-Dryden), comedians (Kabarett artists, for example: Heinrich Eisenbach, Fritz Grünbaum, Karl Farkas, Georg Kreisler, Hermann Leopoldi, Armin Berg), musicians and composers (i.e. Fritz Kreisler, Hans J. Salter, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Max Steiner) were Jewish Austrians. In 1933, many Austrian Jews, who had worked and lived in Germany for years, returned to Austria, including many who fled Nazi restrictions on Jews working in the film industry.
In 1934, the Austrian Civil War broke out. The new regime was fascist, and leaders of the Social Democratic Party got arrested or had to flee. But, except for Jews strongly engaged in the Social Democratic Party, the regime, which thought itself as pro-Austrian and anti-national socialism, brought no worsening for the Jewish population.
The census of 1934 counted 191,481 Jews in Austria—of them 176,034 living in Vienna and most of the rest in Lower Austria (7,716) and Burgenland (3,632), where notable Jewish communities also existed. Of the other Bundesländer, only Styria (2,195) also counted more than 1,000 Jews. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum estimates 250,000 Jews in Austria in 1933.
In 1936, the previously strong Austrian film industry, which had developed its own "emigrant-film"-movement, had to accept the German restrictions forbidding Jews from working in the film industry. Emigration among film artists then rose sharply with Los Angeles becoming the major destination. The main emigration wave did not start until March 1938, when Austria was annexed by Germany, and November 1938, when nearly all synagogues of Austria were destroyed (more than 100, of them about 30 to 40 built as dedicated synagogues, 25 of them in Vienna).
The prosperity period ended abruptly with the annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany in 1938 (the "Anschluss"). At the time of the annexation, the Jewish population in Austria consisted of 181,882 people, of them 167,249 in Vienna—but thousands of Jews had already emigrated in prior years. Including people with one Jewish parent or at least one Jewish grandmother or grandfather, who were also persecuted by the Nazis, the number of Jews and people with Jewish ancestry accounted for 201,000 to 214,000 people.
The Nazis entered Austria without any major resistance, and were accepted approvingly by many Austrians. Immediately with their entrance into Austria the Nazis started instituting anti-Jewish policies throughout the country. They expelled the Jewish population from all cultural, economic and social life in Austria. Jewish citizens were humiliated as they were commanded to perform different humiliating tasks, without any consideration of age, social position or sex.
In the same year as the annexation, "the Night of Broken Glass" (Kristallnacht) was carried out in Austria. The Nazis blamed it on the Jewish refugee, Herschel Grynszpan, whom assassinated the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath in France, and Jewish synagogues and buildings all over Austria were destroyed and robbed by the Hitler Youth and the SA, as were many homes of the Jewish population. During that night 27 Jews were murdered.
After the Anschluss many Jews tried to emigrate from Austria. The immigration center was in the capital of Austria, Vienna, and the people leaving were required to have visas and documents approving their departure in order to leave the country. They were required to leave everything of value in Austria. To leave the country, high "taxes" had to be paid. Emigrants hurried to collect only their most important belongings and the departure fees and had to leave behind them everything else. Most Jews who remained after this time were murdered in the Holocaust.
During the Holocaust, the general Chinese consul Feng-Shan Ho was stationed in Vienna. While risking his own life and his career, Ho, with the aid of his Catholic Viennese staff, rapidly approved the visa applications of thousands of Jews seeking to escape the Nazis. Among them were possibly the Austrian filmmakers Jacob and Luise Fleck, who got one of the last visas for China in 1940 and who then produced films with Chinese filmmakers in Shanghai. Ho's actions were recognized posthumously when he was awarded the title Righteous among the Nations by the Israeli organization Yad Vashem in 2001.
In 1939 the Nazis initiated the annihilation of the Jewish population. The most notable persons of the community, about 6,000, were sent to the Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps. The main concentration camp in Austria was the Mauthausen Concentration Camp, which was located next to the city of Linz. Many other Jews were sent to the concentration camp of Theresienstadt and the Łódź ghetto in Poland and from there they were transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp. In the summer of 1939 hundreds of factories and Jewish stores were shut down by the government. In October 1941 Jews were forbidden to exit the boundaries of Austria. The total number of Jews who managed to exit Austria is about 28,000. Part of the Vienna Jews was sent to the transit camp at Nisko in Nazi-occupied Poland. At the end of the winter of 1941, an additional 4,500 Jews were sent from Vienna to different concentration and extermination camps in Nazi-occupied Poland (mainly Izbica Kujawska and to ghettos in the Lublin area). In June 1942, a transport went directly from Vienna to Sobibor extermination camp, which had around one thousand Jews. In the fall of 1942, the Nazis sent more Jews to the ghettos in the cities they occupied in the Soviet Union: Riga, Kaunas, Vilnius and Minsk. Those Jews were murdered by Nazi soldiers, mainly by being shot.
By October 1942 Austria had only about 2,000 to 5,000 Jews left. About 1,900 of these were sent out of the country during the next two years, and the rest remained in hiding. The total number of the Austrian Jewish population murdered during the Holocaust is about 65,500 people, 62,000 of them known by name. The rest of the Jewish population of Austria, excluding up to 5,000 who managed to survive in Austria, emigrated — about 135,000 people of Jewish religion or Jewish ancestry, compared to the number in 1938. But thousands of Austrian Jews emigrated before 1938.
Until 1955, about 250,000 to 300,000 "displaced persons" lived in Austria. About 3,000 of them stayed in Austria and formed the new Jewish community. After the Holocaust, the Jews throughout Europe who managed to survive were concentrated in DP camps in Austria. The survivors who had nowhere to return to remained in the camps, and were helped by groups of volunteers who came from Israel. Many of the Jews in the DP camps throughout Europe eventually immigrated to Israel. Many others returned to Germany and Austria. In October 2000 the Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial was built in Vienna in memory of the Austrian Jews whom were murdered in the Holocaust.
During the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 about 200,000 Hungarians fled through Austria to the west, among them 17,000 Jews. Seventy-thousand Hungarians stayed in Austria, a number of Jews among them. One of the best known of them is the political scientist and publicist Paul Lendvai.
Details of the property seized under the Nazis in Vienna from Austrian Jews such as Samuel Schallinger who co-owned the Imperial and the Bristol hotels, and the names of those who took them and never gave them back, are detailed in the book Unser Wien (Our Vienna) by Stephan Templ and Tina Walzer.
After the Holocaust the Jewish community in Austria was rebuilt, although it was much smaller. In the 1950s a wave of immigration from the Soviet Union brought Russian Jews to Austria. Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, there has been a renewed influx of Jewish people from the former Soviet Union. The current Austrian Jewish population is around 12,000–15,000 — most of them living in Vienna, Graz, and Salzburg. About 800 are Holocaust survivors who lived in Austria before 1938 and about 1,500 of them are immigrants from countries once a part of the Soviet Union.
In July 1991 the Austrian government acknowledged its role in the crimes of the Third Reich during World War II. In 1993, the Austrian government reconstructed the Jewish synagogue in Innsbruck, which was destroyed during Kristallnacht, and in 1994 they reconstructed the Jewish library in Vienna, which was then reopened.
Neo-Nazism and antisemitism has not vanished entirely from public life in Austria. In the 1990s many threatening letters were sent to politicians and reporters, and some Austrian public figures have occasionally shown sympathy toward Nazism.
Kurt Waldheim was appointed as Austria's president in 1986 despite having served as an officer in the Wehrmacht during the Second World War. He remained the president of Austria until 1992. During his term he was considered a persona non grata in many countries. From 1989-1991 and 1999-2008, Jörg Haider, who made multiple anti-Semitic statements and was often accused of being a Nazi sympathizer, served as Governor of Carinthia.
The Austrian government was sued for Austria's involvement in the Holocaust and required to compensate its Jewish survivors. Initially, the government postponed the compensation matters, until the United States started putting pressure on the matter as well. In November 2005 the Austrian government sent out compensation letters to 19,300 Austrian Holocaust survivors. The total amount that Austria paid in compensation was over $2 million, which they paid to individual Holocaust survivors themselves, to the owners of businesses that were damaged, and for the stolen bank accounts, etc. In addition, the Austrian government also transferred $40 million to the Austria Jewish fund.
The biggest Jewish presence in Austria today is in its capital Vienna. There are synagogues, a Jewish retirement home, the Jewish Museum (founded in 1993), and other community institutions. Austrian Jews are of many different denominations, from Haredi to Reform Jews. The Jewish community also has many activities arranged by the Chabad movement, which is in charge of managing kindergartens, schools, a community center and even a university. There are also active branches of the Bnei Akiva and the Hashomer Hatzair youth movements. Today, the biggest minority among the Jewish community in Vienna are immigrants from Georgia, and the second biggest Jewish minority group comes from Bukhara, each with separate synagogues and a large community center called "The Spanish center".
There were very few Jews in Austria in the early post-war years; however, some of them became very prominent in Austrian society. These include Bruno Kreisky, who was the Chancellor of Austria between 1970 and 1983, the artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser and Jewish politicians such as Elisabeth Pittermann, a member of the Parliament of Austria from the Social Democratic Party of Austria and Peter Sichrovsky, who was formerly a member of the Freedom Party of Austria and a representative in the European Parliament.
Latent antisemitism is an issue in several rural areas of the country. Some issues in the holiday resort Serfaus gained special attention in 2010, where people thought to be Jews were barred from making hotel bookings, based on racial bias. Hostility by some inhabitants of the village towards those who accommodate Jews was reported. Several hotels and apartments in the town confirmed that Jews are banned from the premises. Those who book rooms are subjected to racial profiling, and rooms are denied to those who are identified as possible Orthodox Jews.
Anschluss (German: [ˈʔanʃlʊs] (listen) "joining") refers to the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany on 12 March 1938. The word's German spelling, until the German orthography reform of 1996, was Anschluß and it was also known as the Anschluss Österreichs (pronunciation , English: Annexation of Austria).
Prior to the Anschluss, there had been strong support from people of all backgrounds – not just Nazis – in both Austria and Germany for a union of the two countries. The desire for a union formed an integral part of the Nazi "Heim ins Reich" movement to bring ethnic Germans outside Nazi Germany into Greater Germany. Earlier, Nazi Germany had provided support for the Austrian National Socialist Party (Austrian Nazi Party) in its bid to seize power from Austria's Fatherland Front government.
The idea of an Anschluss (a united Austria and Germany that would form a "Greater Germany") began after the unification of Germany excluded Austria and the German Austrians from the Prussian-dominated German Empire in 1871. Following the end of World War I with the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in 1918, the newly formed Republic of German-Austria attempted to form a union with Germany, but the Treaty of Saint Germain (10 September 1919) and the Treaty of Versailles (28 June 1919) forbade both the union and the continued use of the name "German-Austria" (Deutschösterreich); and stripped Austria of some of its territories, such as the Sudetenland.Austria–Israel relations
Austria–Israel relations refers to the bilateral foreign relations between Austria and Israel.Demographics of Austria
This article is about the demographic features of the population of Austria, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.
Austrians are a homogeneous people, although four decades of strong immigration from other parts of Europe have significantly changed the composition of the population of Austria.
According to the 2001 population census, 88.6% are native German speakers (96% Austro-Bavarian dialects and 4% Alemanic dialects) while the remaining 11.4% speak several minority languages. The non-German speakers of Austria can be divided into two groups: traditional minorities, who are related to territories formerly part of the Habsburg Monarchy, and new minorities, resulting from recent immigration.Foreign relations of Austria
The 1955 Austrian State Treaty ended the four-power occupation and recognized Austria as an independent and sovereign state. In October 1955, the Federal Assembly passed a constitutional law in which "Austria declares of her own free will her perpetual neutrality." The second section of this law stated that "in all future times Austria will not join any military alliances and will not permit the establishment of any foreign military bases on her territory." Since then, Austria has shaped its foreign policy on the basis of neutrality.
In recent years, however, Austria has begun to reassess its definition of neutrality, granting overflight rights for the UN-sanctioned action against Iraq in 1991, and, since 1995, contemplating participation in the EU's evolving security structure. Also in 1995, it joined the Partnership for Peace, and subsequently participated in peacekeeping missions in Bosnia. Discussion of possible Austrian NATO membership intensified during 1996. ÖVP and Team Stronach aim at moving closer to NATO or a European defense arrangement. SPÖ and FPÖ, in turn, believe continued neutrality is the cornerstone of Austria's foreign policy, and a majority of the population generally supports this stance.
In February 2000, Austria's foreign relations cooled down when the ÖVP formed a coalition with the FPÖ after the 1999 election. European governments imposed diplomatic sanctions, and the United States called home its ambassador.
The diplomatic sanctions were lifted in September 2000, after a three-member panel assessed human rights and political life in Austria.
In November 2000, the United States and Austria normalized their relations.Austrian leaders emphasize the unique role the country plays as an East-West hub and as a moderator between industrialized and developing countries. Austria is active in the United Nations and experienced in UN peacekeeping efforts. It attaches great importance to participation in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and other international economic organizations, and it has played an active role in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Vienna hosts the Secretariat of the OSCE and the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, and the United Nations Drug Control Programme. Other international organizations based in Vienna include the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the Organization for International Economic Relations (OiER) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. Recently, Vienna added the preparatory commission for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization and the Wassenaar Arrangement (a technology-transfer control agency) to the list of international organizations it hosts. Furthermore, the Permanent Secretariat of an international territorial treaty for the sustainable development of the Alps called the Alpine Convention is located in Tyrol's capital Innsbruck.
Austria traditionally has been active in "bridge-building to the east," increasing contacts at all levels with Eastern Europe and the states of the former Soviet Union. Austrians maintain a constant exchange of business representatives, investment, trade, political leaders, students, cultural groups, and tourists with the countries of central and eastern Europe. In addition, the Austrian Government and various Austrian organizations provide assistance and training to support the changes underway in the region.History of the Jews in Poland
The history of the Jews in Poland dates back over 1,000 years. For centuries, Poland was home to the largest and most significant Jewish community in the world. Poland was a principal center of Jewish culture, thanks to a long period of statutory religious tolerance and social autonomy. This ended with the Partitions of Poland which began in 1772, in particular, with the discrimination and persecution of Jews in the Russian Empire. During World War II there was a nearly complete genocidal destruction of the Polish Jewish community by Nazi Germany and its collaborators, during the 1939–1945 German occupation of Poland and the ensuing Holocaust. Since the fall of communism in Poland, there has been a Jewish revival, featuring an annual Jewish Culture Festival, new study programs at Polish secondary schools and universities, the work of synagogues such as the Nożyk Synagogue, and Warsaw's Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
From the founding of the Kingdom of Poland in 1025 through to the early years of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth created in 1569, Poland was the most tolerant country in Europe. Historians have described the label paradisus iudaeorum (Latin for "Paradise of the Jews"). The country became a shelter for persecuted and expelled European Jewish communities and the home to the world's largest Jewish community of the time. According to some sources, about three-quarters of the world's Jews lived in Poland by the middle of the 16th century. With the weakening of the Commonwealth and growing religious strife (due to the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation), Poland's traditional tolerance began to wane from the 17th century onward. After the Partitions of Poland in 1795 and the destruction of Poland as a sovereign state, Polish Jews were subject to the laws of the partitioning powers, the increasingly antisemitic Russian Empire, as well as Austria-Hungary and Kingdom of Prussia (later a part of the German Empire). Still, as Poland regained independence in the aftermath of World War I, it was the center of the European Jewish world with one of the world's largest Jewish communities of over 3 million. Antisemitism was a growing problem throughout Europe in those years, from both the political establishment and the general population.In 1939 at the start of World War II, Poland was partitioned between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union (see Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact). One-fifth of the Polish population perished during World War II; the 3,000,000 Polish Jews murdered in The Holocaust, who constituted 90% of Polish Jewry, made up half of all Poles killed during the war. Although the Holocaust occurred largely in German-occupied Poland, there was little collaboration with the Nazis by its citizens. Collaboration by individual Poles has been described as smaller than in other occupied countries. Statistics of the Israeli War Crimes Commission indicate that less than 0.1% of Poles collaborated with the Nazis. Examples of Polish attitudes to German atrocities varied widely, from actively risking death in order to save Jewish lives, and passive refusal to inform on them, to indifference, blackmail, and in extreme cases, participation in pogroms such as the Jedwabne pogrom. Grouped by nationality, Poles represent the largest number of people who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.In the post-war period, many of the approximately 200,000 Jewish survivors registered at Central Committee of Polish Jews or CKŻP (of whom 136,000 arrived from the Soviet Union) left the Polish People’s Republic for the nascent State of Israel, North America or South America. Their departure was hastened by the destruction of Jewish institutions, post-war violence and the hostility of the Communist Party to both religion and private enterprise, but also because in 1946–1947 Poland was the only Eastern Bloc country to allow free Jewish aliyah to Israel, without visas or exit permits. Most of the remaining Jews left Poland in late 1968 as the result of the "anti-Zionist" campaign. After the fall of the Communist regime in 1989, the situation of Polish Jews became normalized and those who were Polish citizens before World War II were allowed to renew Polish citizenship. Religious institutions were revived, largely through the activities of Jewish foundations from the United States. The contemporary Polish Jewish community is estimated to have between 10,000 and 20,000 members. The number of people with Jewish heritage of any sort may be several times larger.History of the Jews in Salzburg
The history of the Jews in Salzburg, Austria goes back several millennia. Despite being a non-secular province with a Catholic Archbishop as the head of the state, Salzburg has a long record of Jewish history.
The first Jewish settlers arrived in the city when it was still under Roman rule and called Juvavum as a provincial town. After the decay of Juvavum and the foundation of a diocese in the city now called Salzburg, Bishop Arno of Salzburg (785-871) referred to a "medicum judaicum", or Jewish doctor.
Documents from the 12th century report the presence of a Jewish quarter and a street called "Judengasse" ("Jews alley"), an alley near the Cathedral that is still called by that name. There is record of a synagogue in the 13th century.
By 1492, Jews of Salzburg were publicly burned and Jewish settlers expelled from the city. This ban prevented the development of a Jewish community until well into the 19th century, by then Salzburg had become part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Many central figures of Salzburg's intellectual and cultural life from the late 19th century until Austria's annexation by Nazi Germany in 1938 were Jewish or of Jewish origin, such as Stefan Zweig, Max Reinhardt, Theodor Herzl or Carl Zuckmayer.
After 1938, the synagogue and Jewish cemetery in Aigen were closed and many Jews either left Salzburg or were deported to concentration camps. Salzburg's Jewish community never fully recovered from those years. Today, it consists of about 100 members. The synagogue was re-opened after the war and is still the center of Jewish culture and worship in Salzburg.History of the Jews in Trieste
The history of the Jews in Trieste, Italy goes back over 800 years.History of the Jews in Vienna
The history of the Jews in Vienna, Austria, goes back over eight hundred years. There is evidence of a Jewish presence in Vienna from the 12th century onwards.At the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th century, Vienna was one of the most prominent centres of Jewish culture in Europe, but during the period of National-Socialist rule in Austria, Vienna's Jewish population was almost entirely deported and murdered in the Holocaust. Since 1945, Jewish culture and society have gradually been recovering in the city.Jewish history
Jewish history is the history of the Jews, and their religion and culture, as it developed and interacted with other peoples, religions and cultures. Although Judaism as a religion first appears in Greek records during the Hellenistic period (323 BCE – 31 BCE) and the earliest mention of Israel is inscribed on the Merneptah Stele dated 1213–1203 BCE, religious literature tells the story of Israelites going back at least as far as c. 1500 BCE. The Jewish diaspora began with the Assyrian captivity and continued on a much larger scale with the Babylonian captivity. Jews were also widespread throughout the Roman Empire, and this carried on to a lesser extent in the period of Byzantine rule in the central and eastern Mediterranean. In 638 CE the Byzantine Empire lost control of the Levant. The Arab Islamic Empire under Caliph Omar conquered Jerusalem and the lands of Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. The Golden Age of Jewish culture in Spain coincided with the Middle Ages in Europe, a period of Muslim rule throughout much of the Iberian Peninsula. During that time, Jews were generally accepted in society and Jewish religious, cultural, and economic life blossomed.
During the Classical Ottoman period (1300–1600), the Jews, together with most other communities of the empire, enjoyed a certain level of prosperity. In the 17th century, there were many significant Jewish populations in Western Europe. During the period of the European Renaissance and Enlightenment, significant changes occurred within the Jewish community. Jews began in the 18th century to campaign for emancipation from restrictive laws and integration into the wider European society. During the 1870s and 1880s the Jewish population in Europe began to more actively discuss emigration back to Israel and the re-establishment of the Jewish Nation in its national homeland. The Zionist movement was founded officially in 1897. Meanwhile, the Jews of Europe and the United States gained success in the fields of science, culture and the economy. Among those generally considered the most famous were scientist Albert Einstein and philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. A large number of Nobel Prize winners at this time were Jewish, as is still the case.In 1933, with the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in Germany, the Jewish situation became more severe. Economic crises, racial anti-Semitic laws, and a fear of an upcoming war led many Jews to flee from Europe to Palestine, to the United States and to the Soviet Union. In 1939 World War II began and until 1941 Hitler occupied almost all of Europe, including Poland—where millions of Jews were living at that time—and France. In 1941, following the invasion of the Soviet Union, the Final Solution began, an extensive organized operation on an unprecedented scale, aimed at the annihilation of the Jewish people, and resulting in the persecution and murder of Jews in political Europe, inclusive of European North Africa (pro-Nazi Vichy-North Africa and Italian Libya). This genocide, in which approximately six million Jews were methodically exterminated, is known as The Holocaust or Shoah (Hebrew term). In Poland, three million Jews were killed in gas chambers in all concentration camps combined, with one million at the Auschwitz camp complex alone.
In 1945 the Jewish resistance organizations in Palestine unified and established the Jewish Resistance Movement, which attacked the British authorities. David Ben-Gurion proclaimed on May 14, 1948, the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel to be known as the State of Israel. Immediately afterwards all neighbouring Arab states attacked, yet the newly formed IDF resisted. In 1949 the war ended and the state of Israel started building the state and absorbing massive waves of hundreds of thousands of Jews from all over the world. Today (2019), Israel is a parliamentary democracy with a population of over 9 million people, of whom about 7 million are Jewish. The largest Jewish communities are in Israel and the United States, with major communities in France, Argentina, Russia, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Germany. For statistics related to modern Jewish demographics see Jewish population.Jews in Bielsko-Biała
Jews in Bielsko-Biała (German: Juden in Bielitz-Biala, Hebrew: הקהילה היהודית בילסקו ביאלה), is a Jewish society with its headquarters in Bielsko-Biała, Poland. Nowadays, the area of its activity covers Cieszyn Silesia and western Lesser Poland, including the city of Oświęcim (German: Auschwitz).Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial
The Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial (German: Mahnmal für die 65.000 ermordeten österreichischen Juden und Jüdinnen der Shoah) also known as the Nameless Library stands in Judenplatz in the first district of Vienna. It is the central memorial for the Austrian victims of the Holocaust and was designed by the British artist Rachel Whiteread.Leopoldstadt
Leopoldstadt (German pronunciation: [ˈleːopɔltˌʃtat] (listen); Austro-Bavarian: Leopoidstod, "Leopold-Town") is the 2nd municipal District of Vienna (German: 2. Bezirk). There are 103,233 inhabitants (as of 2016-01-01) over 19.27 km2 (7 sq mi). It is situated in the heart of the city and, together with Brigittenau (20th district), forms a large island surrounded by the Danube Canal and, to the north, the Danube. It is named after Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor. Due to its relatively high percentage of Jewish inhabitants (38.5 per cent in 1923, i. e., before the Holocaust), Leopoldstadt gained the nickname Mazzesinsel ("Mázze Island"). This context was a significant aspect for the district twinning with the New York City borough Brooklyn in 2007.Leopoldstädter Tempel
The Leopoldstädter Tempel was the largest synagogue of Vienna, in the district (Bezirk) of Leopoldstadt. It was also known as the Israelitische Bethaus in der Wiener Vorstadt Leopoldstadt. It was built in 1858 in a Moorish Revival style by the architect Ludwig Förster. The tripartite facade of the Leopoldstädter, with its tall central section flanked by lower wings on each side, became the model for numerous Moorish Revival synagogues, including the Zagreb Synagogue, the Spanish Synagogue in Prague, the Tempel Synagogue in Kraków, the Grand Synagogue of Edirne and Templul Coral in Bucharest.
This temple was destroyed during the Kristallnacht on November 10, 1938. A memorial plaque on the site reads in German (and Hebrew):
Hier befand sich der Leopoldstädter Tempel, der im Jahre 1858 nach Plänen von Architekt Leopold Förster im maurischen Stil errichtet und am 10. November 1938 in der sogenannten "Reichskristallnacht" von den nationalsozialistischen Barbaren bis auf die Grundmauern zerstört wurde.
Here stood the Leopoldstädter Temple, built in 1858 in the Moorish style according to the plans of architect Leopold Förster, all but the foundation of which was completely destroyed by National Socialist barbarians on the so-called "Night of Broken Glass" on 10 November 1938.List of Austrian Jews
Austria first became a center of Jewish learning during the 13th century. However, increasing antisemitism led to the expulsion of the Jews in 1669. Following formal readmission in 1848, a sizable Jewish community developed once again, contributing strongly to Austrian culture. By the 1930s, some 300,000 Jews lived in Austria, most of them in Vienna. Following the Anschluss with Nazi Germany, most of the community emigrated or were killed in the Holocaust. The current Austrian Jewish population is 9,000. The following is a list of some prominent Austrian Jews. Here German-speaking Jews from the whole Habsburg Monarchy are listed.Neudeggergasse Synagogue
Neudeggergasse Synagogue (German: Synagoge Neudeggergasse) was a Jewish synagogue in Vienna, Austria.1 The synagogue served the Jewish community of the VII. and VIII. Districts (Neubau and Josefstadt).
It was commissioned by Baron Moritz von Königswarter, and the architect was Max Fleischer.
The synagogue was built in the North-German Neo-Gothic style. It was mostly constructed of brick, including the façade and the two towers. The main hall was divided by pillars into three naves; more than 300 people could sit on the ground level. As in many synagogues, the women sat separate from the men and could watch the proceedings from the balcony on the second floor. The synagogue apparently had excellent acoustics.
The synagogue was destroyed during the Reichskristallnacht pogroms in 1938, after the Anschluß of Austria to Nazi Germany. During the construction of new buildings for housing in 1998, parts of the previous façade were rebuilt in vinyl, but the owner of the house at Neudeggergasse 10 did not want a complete reconstruction.Religion in Austria
Christianity is the predominant religion in Austria. At the 2001 census, 73.6% of the country's population was Catholic. As of 2018, the number of Catholics has dropped to 56.9% of the population, according to data provided by the Austrian Catholic Church itself. There is a much smaller group of Evangelicals, totalling about 4.7% of the population in 2001, shrunk to 3.3% in 2018. Since 2001, these two historically dominant religious groups in Austria recorded losses in the number of adherents. The Catholic Church reported an absolute drop of 15.7%, the Evangelical Lutheran and Evangelical Reformed churches of 1.3%. In relative numbers the losses of the smaller Evangelical churches account for 33.7%, compared to Catholic losses which account for 21.9%, since their maximum in 1971.
In contrast, due to immigration, the number of Muslims in Austria has increased in recent years, with 4.2% of the population calling themselves Muslim in 2001, up to around 5% to 6.2% in 2010, and to 7.9% in 2016 - represented especially by immigrants from Turkey and the Balkans. Eastern Orthodox churches have also grown rapidly (up to 8.8% of the population) in recent years, mainly due to immigration of Serbs from the former Yugoslavia and Romanians. There are also minor communities of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jews, and other religions in Austria.Stadttempel
The Stadttempel (English: City Prayer House), also called the Seitenstettengasse Temple, is the main synagogue of Vienna, Austria. It is located in the Innere Stadt 1st district, at Seitenstettengasse 4.
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