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1938: The Reich Expands
 
 
"I have in the course of my political struggle won much love from my people, but when I crossed the former frontier (into Austria) there met me such a stream of love as I have never experienced. Not as tyrants have we come, but as liberators."
Adolf Hitler, March 193

Masses waving to Hitler. Schwarzach/Salzburg, Austria, 1938. CL:DOW

Jews forced to clean the streets of Vienna in mid- March 1938, shortly after
the Anschluss (the incorporation of Austria).
CL:DOW

Graffiti on Jewish-owned stores in Vienna warns that the removal of this graffiti will result in a "vacation" in Dachau. CL:UPI/Bettman Newsphotos


Jews and others fleeing Austria line up outside Wehrgasse Passport Office, 1938. CL:DOW

The Nazi program extended beyond the borders of Germany in March 1938, when Austria was incorporated by Germany. The Nazis' social, economic, and legal degradation of the German Jews had taken five years to accomplish; in Austria it was achieved in a few months. Jewish men and women were forced to scrub the streets on their knees, while many Viennese cheered. Shops were looted, property confiscated, and thousands of Austrians were arrested.

In August 1938, Mauthausen concentration camp opened to imprison individuals opposed to the Nazi regime; the Central Office for Jewish Emigration was established to accelerate the forced emigration of Jews. Adolf Eichmann was appointed head of Jewish affairs in Austria. The patterns of persecution he established would serve as a model for future Nazi practices of confiscation of Jewish property followed by forced emigration.


The fate of European Jews was directly linked to Hitler's preparations for war. By 1938, Nazi policy had systematically removed Jews from the political and cultural life of Germany. In 1938, Jews were evicted from Germany's economic life. Desperate and impoverished, they sought refuge, but no nation wanted them.

To insure the poverty of the immigrant, laws were passed in 1938:

  • denying Jewish communities the right to own property
  • denying Jewish doctors the right to treat Aryan patients
  • denying Jewish lawyers the right to practice law
  • requiring Jewish businesses to be registered and encouraging their transfer at artificially low prices to Aryan owners
"Kick out the Jews from the economy and turn them into debtors." Herman Goering, November 12, 1938


SS roundups outside the Jewish Community Center in Vienna, March 1938. CL:Bundesarchiv

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