Mortality Rate Among Viennese Jews Tripled Between 1938 and 1945; 15 Dying Monthly

The death rate of the Vienna Jewish community tripled in the period from 1938 to the middle of last year, an official survey reveals.

The mortality rate has increased from 12 per 1,000 eight years ago to 36 per 1,000 last year. As of May 1, this year, the Jewish community of Vienna, which once numbered 180,000 people, had 4,037 Jews enrolled. An average of 15 Jews have died monthly since the liberation of Austria.

The increased mortality is ascribed primarily to the effects of the physical torture and starvation which the Jews suffered in concentration camps or in hiding from the Nazis–often without a food ration card. The inadequacy of the present diet and crowded living quarters have also taken their coll. Because their weakened physical condition does not permit the majority of the Jews to engage in heavy labor, the official ration permitted them is only 1,000 to 1,200 calories daily. This vicious circle makes no provision for the physical rehabilitation of the Jews.

Better conditions exist only in the U.S. zone of the city where the American Red Cross distributes twice monthly a large number of food parcels to all victims of the Nazis. Unfortunately, the majority of Viennese Jews do not live within the American zone and are almost entirely dependent upon the Joint Distribution Committee. Jewish leaders complain that since the J.D.C. began operations in the city it has only distributed four food packages.

At a recent conference between J.D.C. representatives and Jewish community leaders it was decided to institute a health program for all the Jews in the city. Under the plan, which will be inaugurated next week, children up to the age of 16 will be examined and, if found to be undernourished, will be sent to special homes where they will receive 3,000 calories per day. Half the food will be supplied by the American Army and the other half by the J.D.C.

Examination of adults between 16 and 40 will establish whether they are physically able to work, and an attempt will be made to adjust their diet accordingly. The conference also considered proposals for the establishment of technical training schools for Jewish youth desiring to emigrate.

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