Austria Heaps Many Obstacles in Path of Jewish Physicians
Menu JTA Search

Austria Heaps Many Obstacles in Path of Jewish Physicians

Download PDF for this date

The plight of the Jewish medical man in Austria is revealed in a survey recently made by a knowing insider who must of necessity maintain anonymous. The report, compiled even before the latest anti-Semitic manifestation, the dismissal of Jewish doctors in the Sick Funds, is illustrative of the tragic condition under which Jewish doctors and all Jewish intellectuals must live in Austria.

During the past year and a half, the survey reveals no Jewish promotions. It was officially stated that in the Vienna General Hospital, for instance, there would be no appointment of a Jew until the relationship of Jews to non-Jews had fallen to a ratio of twenty per cent. As many Vienna hospitals number very few Jews on their staffs and most of the hospitals out of the city have no Jews at all on their staffs, the average of Jewish doctors in the country has long been below this ratio.


Since February, 1934, no Jews have been appointed or promoted in the hospital or welfare institutions in the city of Vienna. In the matter of appointments, not only religious but racial considerations are taken into account. In some cases the baptismal certificates of the parents of the applicant are demanded. A statement by the Lord Mayor of Vienna, Dr. Schmitz, that henceforth only children of Christian parents will be appointed, is in concurrence with this condition often made by the hospital authorities.

Of doctors holding permanent positions with the city of Vienna, over forty-five have been dismissed and only a few of them have been pensioned. Of this group all were Jews but two, and of the Jews there were but an insignificant number dismissed on political grounds.


In the case of the Sick Funds and Social Insurance institutions, a general reform is being announced for the next few weeks, and according to semi-official rumor, the first of the dismissed will be Jewish doctors who obtained their citizenship in Vienna after 1919. Then will follow those who obtained their citizenship between 1914 and 1918, and then those who became citizens before 1914, but were not born in Vienna. A number of contracts have been annulled even before this new reform is due to enter into force.

The Union of Christian German Doctors with about 400 members, about eight per cent, of the number of doctors in Vienna, demands thirty seats, which would give them an absolute majority in the executive of the professional organization of the doctors in Vienna, which has a total of fifty-seven seats. Such a ratio would give this small group the power to damage Jewish doctors of all categories.


A “Front-fighter” qualification has been introduced in the professional institutions, obviously with the intention of removing those who do not qualify. The dismissals which have taken place, however, have not taken any account of front services, or war decorations. Among those dismissed there was a holder of the Golden Medal of Valor, which is equivalent to the German Iron Cross First Class. Such a dismissal is going Germany one better for in Germany an Iron Cross Medal owner is immume from dismissal for religious reasons.

In any consideration of statistics attempting to show a high proportion of Jewish doctors in Vienna, it must be remembered that there are practically no Jewish doctors in the rest of Austria. This is a condition found in all intellectual fields of endeavor in Austria for never did the Jew have any chance at all outside of the city. And, further, the percentage of Jews in the hospitals of Vienna has been for many years much smaller than among the Gentile physicians. Positions in clinics, in hospitals and in universities were only rarely if ever filled by Jews, certainly never in any proportion to number of application and their qualifications.


The entire matter of citizenship as a qualifying factor in hospital and government positions is a false one. Vienna for centuries has been the capital of an empire of about sixty million persons of various races and languages. It has always had a large number of inhabitants from various parts of the country, so that hardly fifty per cent of the present population of the city were born in Vienna.

The peace treaties of 1918 gave all the inhabitants of the former Austro-Hungarian monarchy free option to choose citizenship in whichever of the so-called succession states, of which Austria is one, that they desired. The treaty guaranteed full citizenship rights. Further, the constitution makes no distinction between citizens of older or more recent date.


The so-called non-native doctors, a term which is applied to the Jewish doctors. were almost without exception born on the territory of the former Austro-Hungarian monarchy, lived there until 1918 and fought on the Austrian side of the war, or had members of families who did.

To illustrate the point about non-native inhabitants, it should be pointed out that the present Chancellor, Dr. Schuschnigg; the Lord Mayor of Vienna and the Vice Mayor, the Messrs. Dr. Schmitz and Dr. Kresse, were themselves not born in the territory which is now Austrian. The intent behind the nativity clause becomes obvious when it is seen that large numbers of Christian doctors who were not born in Vienna are retained when Jews, whose circumstances are exactly the same, are dismissed.

In other fields of intellectual work, it is the same. Dr. Jacob Ehrlich, one of the Jewish members of the Vienna City Council, speaking on the school question at the Council recently said that there are in Vienna 5,000 teachers in the elementary schools, of whom only twelve are Jews.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund