Anti-Semitism, hostility towards Jews. In Austria, anti-Semitism has a long tradition. Reports of acts of violence against Jews go as far back as the end of the 13th century, and under Duke Albrecht V Jews living in Vienna were subject to wholesale expulsion or burnt at the stake in 1420/21. Under Ferdinand I Jews were required in 1551 to wear a yellow ring on their clothing. In 1670 Leopold I. expelled all Jews from Lower Austria, the ghetto in Vienna was abolished and the Jewish population sent to what is now Leopoldstadt; nevertheless members of rich Jewish families soon returned to Vienna. Joseph II's ( Edict of Tolerance) freed Austrian Jews from many discriminatory restrictions. At the same time, many Jews started to move to Vienna from Bohemia, Moravia and Galicia. The age of liberalism enabled the Jewish population to live in a less oppressive environment. After 1867 they were allowed to enter the liberal professions as physicians, lawyers, journalists, writers and artists and to engage in such activities as trade and banking, and many of them taught at universities. As a reaction, economic anti-Semitism developed in large parts of the population, a trend which various political movements tended to exploit. Whereas the Christian Socialists under K. Lueger (from approx. 1885 onwards) stressed, above all, the economic problems allegedly caused by this development, G. Ritter von Schoenerer at the same time propounded a form of anti-Semitism based on racist arguments which aimed at totally excluding the Jews from any form of participation in society. While both forms of anti-Semitism found many followers, anti-Semitism was seen to decline somewhat between 1897 and 1914. Many Jews held leading positions in the Social-Democratic movement and in some of the liberal groups. During World War I a large number of Jews from Galicia came to Vienna, which caused anti-Semitism in Vienna to gain momentum, particularly at the universities and amongst university graduates. By 1938 anti-Semitic attitudes had gained ground in most political movements, and especially in the Christian-Social Party, where they assumed more and more racist characteristics. In spite of the fact that many party leaders were Jews, anti-Semitism was also found in Social Democratic circles; it persisted in many different forms in German nationalist groups and was a stock-in-trade in National Socialist propaganda.
From the National Socialist take-over in 1938 onwards, Jews were systematically persecuted, which initially resulted in massive emigration to the USA and Palestine and ultimately in the systematic extermination of the Jews. While in 1938 there were 185,250 Jews in Austria, by September 1939 their number had been reduced to 66,000, and in 1947 there were only 8,552 Jews resident in Austria. Although a polity of opposing anti-Semitism has prevailed in Austria since 1945 it still persists in the population-at-large. The exact degree of anti-Semitism in Austria can only be determined by opinion surveys, and there have been numerous instances of anti-Semitic acts of violence (defiling of Jewish cemeteries etc.) in the Second Republic.
Literature#B. F. Pauley, Eine Geschichte des oesterreichischen Antisemitismus, 1993 (English 1992); A. Rotter, Der Antisemitismus der Christllich-Sozialen in Oesterreich, master's thesis, Vienna 1994.