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Jewish Suicides in Austria Put at 2,000, Arrests 12,000 Since Anschluss

Two thousand Jews have committed suicide and at least 12,000 others have been arrested since Austro-German Anschluss, according to a prominent personality, whose identity cannot be revealed, who has just returned from several weeks in Austria.

Despite expectations that treatment of Austrian Jews would gradually undergo a change for the better, their position today was revealed as worse than in the first days of the Nazi regime. It is aggravated by the fact that the Jews are still without leaders, virtually all of whom have been imprisoned, and the Jewish community offices are still closed.

The hope that after the plebiscite Berlin Jewish organizations would be able to intercede in behalf of Austrian Jewry has not been fulfilled. German Jewish newspapers are not even allowed to circulate in Austria, while Austrian Jewish papers have been entirely prohibited. Austrian Jewry is consequently cut off from all sources of information. This complete isolation, with the resultant feeling of abandonment, is one of the principal causes leading to the Jewish suicides.

The fate of many of the 12,000 arrested is not known and in all probability will never be known. Again and again lorries driven by Nazi storm troopers drive up to the central cemetery in the Jewish section and unload sealed coffins. The cemetery officials are not given the names of the dead, are ordered not to open the coffins and to inter them without identification. Burials usually take place at dawn with only “kaddish” being recited as coffins are lowered into graves.

With regard to the “ransom” demand of 800,000 schillings made of the Vienna Jewish Community by the Nazis, Col. Haselbacher and Herr Reichmann, both of Berlin, who are heads of the Jewish department of the Gestapo (German secret police) at Vienna, were said to have advised the community that the national Government at Berlin “desires Vienna Jewry to show the same amount of good will they had shown to the Schuschnigg government.” (Vienna Jews were ordered early this month to pay 800,000 schillings to the Nazi party to match an alleged similar contribution to the Schuschnigg regime, with the intimation that things would be easier for them if the “donation” were made. To date, it is reported that less than half of the sum has been raised.)

Non-Jewish firms, the informant told the J.T.A., have already dismissed all Jewish employes, although a few regarded as indispensable have been rehired. He estimated that 80,000 Jews have been dismissed from their jobs.

Not a single Viennese Jew possesses an automobile, all having been requisitioned, the informant asserted. Raids on apartments of Jews are still continuing, with Jews still being drafted for street cleaning, some as often as a dozen times. In one case, a bride and groom leaving a synagogue were drafted for cleaning tasks. A second bride was forced to scrub floors for five hours.

The position of the Jews in the provinces was asserted to be even worse. All leading Jews in the city of Graz have been arrested by the Gestapo. In Linz, 39 prominent Jews are under arrest. The anti-Jewish boycott is in full swing in the city of Innsbruck with Jews being warned to liquidate their enterprises as soon as possible.

A majority of the Jews ordered expelled from the eastern province of Burgenland has already left. Most of them have gone to Vienna, where the Agudath Israel, religious Jewish organization, is attempting to assist them. Jews wishing to leave the country must produce confirmation that all their taxes have been paid and must sign declarations that they will never return to the country.

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