04 Persecuted and Expelled

The exodus of the Jewish doctors
4.1 Anti-Jewish Raid at the University of Vienna
4.2 Jewish Krankenbehandler
4.3 Extract from "Der Giftpilz" (The Toadstool)
4.4 Sigmund und Anna Freud
4.5 Lecture of Eduard Pernkopf
4.6 Attacks on Jewish Doctors
4.7 Alfred W. Kneucker (1904-1960)

Immediately after the Anschluss of 1938, the National Socialists began to systematically drive out the Jewish population from all areas of society. This also applied to the health and welfare system. The anti-Jewish laws and regulations, which now also came into force in Austria, affected roughly 3,200 of the approx. 4,900 Viennese doctors overall.

Arrests, lootings, and the Aryanization of sanatoria, foundations as well as private and public clinics took place in Vienna on a large scale and soon ruined the social and economic existence of those doctors defined as Jewish. Licenses were withdrawn and starting 30 September 1938, only so-called Krankenbehandler (a derogatory term for those who treat the sick) were available for the remaining Jewish population whose number was reduced to virtually zero by war end through expulsions and deportations to concentration camps and ghettos. Of the 65,000 Austrian victims who died in the Holocaust, 220 had been doctors.

At the Viennese medical faculty, roughly half of all teachers were expelled and replaced, largely by doctors with a background in the Nazi movement. Within a few months, also Jewish students were expelled from university. "Well-deserving" Nazi students, by contrast, were treated preferentially. The National Socialists' radical expulsion of the Jews from academia was the culmination of an Austrian anti-Semitic tradition that went back to the days of the monarchy and had been zealously pursued, above all by Pan-German and völkisch (nationalistic-racist), but also by Catholic students. Anti-Semitic demonstrations, protests against the appointment of Jewish professors, and assaults against Jewish students were common long before 1938.

Most of the persecuted doctors succeeded in escaping abroad, chiefly to the United States (over 2,200) and Great Britain (over 350). Yet, many of them failed to regain a professional foothold in the country that received them. In addition to untold human suffering, this transfer of medical and scientific potential meant a considerable and permanent loss for medicine in Austria, especially since only a few of the exiles returned to Austria after the war.