Israeli genealogy website launches collection of Jewish records from Vienna leading up to WWII


Police officers walk along the Holocaust Wall of Names memorial bearing the names of 64,000 Austrian Jews who were killed in the Holocaust before its opening in Vienna, Austria November 9, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

An Israeli online genealogy platform has partnered with the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People (CAHJP) in Jerusalem to publish online for the first time a collection of emigration applications from Jews in Vienna, Austria, seeking to flee Nazi persecution before World War II.

The MyHeritage collection, which is free to search, contains 228,250 digitized documents deposited by Jews in Vienna from 1938 to 1939, immediately before the war, as well as digitized images of the original documents.

Vienna at the time was home to around 200,000 Jews. Following the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in March 1938, Jews living in Austria were forced to register with the emigration service of the Vienna Israelitische Kultusgemeinde, the city’s Jewish communal organization of Vienna, to leave the country.

Each head of household had to complete a detailed questionnaire containing personal information such as the applicant’s name, address, date of birth, place of birth, marital status, nationality, residence status in Vienna and information on dependents and parents. The questionnaire also asked about the candidate’s occupation, language skills, economic status and monthly income. The forms were often accompanied by additional documents, including letters, affidavits, official documents, correspondence and handwritten notes.

The detailed archive is one of the most revealing collections in existence about Austrian Jewish life from the years 1938-1939, according to MyHeritage. The information in the documents was later used by the Nazis to help them expel the Jews from Austria.

The emigration papers are currently kept in the archives of the Jewish community in Vienna, where the CAHJP keeps some funds.

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