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Jewish Life Reviewed in Latest Cables and Letters

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A new class of “criminal” has arisen in Austria—the “trade trespasser.” Until recently it was imagined that the only form of trespassing was walking without permission on another man’s ground. Today, when unemployment is so rife and competition in industry so acute, emulation in trade has become an offense similar to trespassing.

It was in this spirit that the “Gewerbesperre” or trade ban was introduced in Austria. When a man is forced to close down his business he is unable to start out in a new branch owing to the trade ban. He must first obtain from the authorities what is known as a “Befaehigungs-Nachweis,” or “authentication for qualification,” for launching out in a new enterprise.


When the “trade ban” was introduced in Austria some time ago it was foretold in economic circles that misery was bound to increase at a devasting rate. In effect, the “Gewerbesperre” has meant the hermetic sealing of the only door to reemployment of thousands of Austrian citizens. Today, with the new trend of political feeling, the Jew is the person who is most severely hit by the ban.

A new factor in the economic control has arisen. Trade regulations have been tightened up in such a way that many businessmen who have been established for years are suddenly prevented from continuing in one or other of the most important branches of their commerce, since they find themselves without the necessary “authentication for qualification.” This authentication, however, has nothing to do with real qualifications.


An Ostjude today, if he attempts to obtain the necessary authentication, finds from the outset that he is excluded. That wonderfully vague word “Bodenstaendig” which can be translated by the botanical term “hypogynous,” plays an important part in present day Austria. “Originated from the soil”— and if you have not “originated from the soil,” you are “nicht Bodenstaendig”; that means that you have nothing in common with the traditions of Austria since you had the misfortune to settle there after 1914. Being a foreign element you have no rights to a livelihood. So the Ostjude, who until a few months ago was a patriotic Austrian, bringing his children up to respect Austrian culture and Austrian traditions, now finds himself in a similar position to his fellow Jew across the German frontier. The difference is, that in Austria the present regime does not believe in the mailed fist, like in Germany, but in the silken glove, and little is known abroad of what is happening.

So the Ostjude is not “bodenstaendig” and finds it impossible to obtain authorization to trade. His only alternative to starvation is to try and trade without the necessary authorization. Then he becomes a criminal.

The Trade Ministry grants traders authorizations only after the sanction of the co-operatives. These, however are not merely preventing Jews from obtaining the authorizations; but are taking proceedings against “trade trespassers.”

The latest method adopted for hounding out unfortunate alleged Jewish trade trespassers is to print lists of names in the newspapers. The Wiener Montagsblatt, which is the Monday edition of the Christian-Socialist Reichspost, has just printed a list of Jewish, and particularly Ostjuedisch, names of persons alleged to be trespassing in the clothing industry. The paper adds the following significant remark: “A general razzia of the business founded by Eastern Jews who migrated to Vienna during the last fifteen years and have been given home rights by a Marxist Municipality, would give a most elucidating picture.”

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