Research on a Desideratum of Austrian Holocaust Historiography
It is estimated that there were approximately 201,000 people living in Austria in March 1938 who were considered Jewish according to the Nazi definition of the Nuremberg Racial Laws. Of these, 181,882 were members of one of the various Jewish community organizations in Austria – 167,249 alone in Vienna. During the years 1938/39, the Jewish population in the Austrian provinces was expelled and forced to relocate to Vienna, following which the local Jewish community organizations were successively abolished. Following a first major wave of escape and emigration, 91,530 individuals considered Jewish according to Nazi definitions remained in Vienna in May 1939. Vienna thus had the highest number of Jews of any city in the entire German Reich.
Unlike in Germany, where the Jewish population was deported from several different cities, the central place for the deportation of the Jewish population in Austria was Vienna. The majority of the Austrian Jewish population was deported between February 1941 and October 1942 from Vienna’s Aspangbahnhof, the Aspang railway station. About 45,527 women, men and children were deported in 45 transports to ghettos and extermination sites in the East. After the conclusion of the mass deportations, smaller individual transports continued between 1943 and 1945, henceforth leaving from Vienna’s Nordbahnhof, the northern railway station. About 2,141 Austrians defined as Jews were deported from there, mainly heading to Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, a few dozen also to other concentration camps such as Buchenwald and Mauthausen. While research on mass deportations from the Aspangbahnhof has already been conducted, deportations from the Nordbahnhof still remain a lacuna in Holocaust studies.
In this project, deportations from Vienna’s Nordbahnhof station in the years between 1943 and 1945 will be systematically documented and analyzed on the basis of the available source materials. Considering the currently ongoing “Nordbahnhof” urban development project, this study not only has a high significance for research, but also has sociopolitical relevance.