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< Conferences and Workshops

Fleeing the Nazis: Austrian Jewish Refugees to the United States

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Austrian-Jewish refugee children wave at the Statue of Liberty as the SS President Harding steams into New York harbor.

Austrian-Jewish refugee children wave at the Statue of Liberty as the SS President Harding steams into New York harbor. —US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Anita Willens

The Jewish population of Austria in 1938 totaled some 192,000, which represented almost four percent of the population. The majority lived in the capital city of Vienna and comprised about nine percent of its residents. After Germany annexed Austria in March 1938, finding safety abroad was no easy task, and the United States was no exception. The United States government combined the German and Austrian quotas for entry to the United States and waiting lists of desperate Jewish refugees grew as antisemitic persecution increased and Nazi Germany began to expand its territorial holdings in Europe. By the end of November 1939, more than 126,000 Austrian Jews had fled Austria, and of them more than 28,000 to the United States.

Join the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and partners the Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance and the Austrian Embassy for a one-day symposium featuring current scholarly research on Austrian Jews’ experiences of persecution and forced emigration under the Nazis, with a focus on those who fled to the United States. ​This program is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. For more information, contact Elizabeth Anthony at eanthony@ushmm.org.

Register now

 

​Symposium Program

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Helena Rubinstein Auditorium


10:30 am
Welcome and Opening Remarks

Elizabeth Anthony, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Gerhard Baumgartner, Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance
Thorsten Eisingerich, Director of Press and Information, Austrian Embassy


10:45 am
Panel I
Moderator: Patricia Heberer-Rice, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

The US and the Refugee Crisis in the late 1930s
Rebecca Erbelding, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Resilience and Rescue: The Ordinary Heroes of Vienna's IKG
Ilana F. Offenberger, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth

The First Documented Expulsion of Jewish Citizens from the Territory of the Third Reich in March and April 1938
Gerhard Baumgartner, Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance

Deportation and Extermination of Austrian Jews: The State of Research
Winfried Garscha, Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance


12:15 pm
​Break


1:15 pm
Projections of Life: Amateur Films Documenting Jewish Life in Prewar
Austria
Leslie Swift, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Lindsay Zarwell, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum


2:15 pm
A conversation with Herta Griffel Baitch
Herta Griffel Baitch came to the United States from Vienna in late 1940 with the assistance of the German Jewish Children’s Aid of Baltimore.
Anatol Steck, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum​


3:15 pm
Break


3:30 pm
Panel II

Moderator: Yariv Lapid, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

"One Finds It very Difficult to Cheer Up These Downhearted People": American Quakers helping Jews Flee Nazi Vienna
Bettina Brandt, Penn State University

The Emigration Experience of Elderly Austrian Jews
Melissa Jane Taylor, Office of the Historian, U.S. Department of State

Viennese Jewish Cabaret Artists in Exile in the United States
Frances Tanzer, Clark University

Austria's Approach to Restitution and Indemnification Claims of Former Jewish Citizens after 1945
Brigitte Bailer, Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance


5:00 pm
Break


5:15 pm
Closing Roundtable: Refugee Studies and Holocaust Studies

Moderator: Robert Williams, Human Rights First (formerly of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)

Brigitte Bailer, Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance
Gerhard Baumgartner, Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance
Debórah Dwork, Clark University
​Albert Lichtblau, University of Salzburg


6:30 pm
CLOSE

 

​This symposium is made possible by the support of Edie and David Blitzstein, in memory of Kurt and Thea Sonnenmark.