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Recalling the Anschluss

Nazis invade Austria in Anschluss (Photo: US National Archives and Records Administration)

Eighty years ago this month, Adolf Hitler invaded his own country of birth. For the Jewish people of Austria, this brought the Holocaust to them. The Times of Israel's Philippe Schwab tells us the story of Marko Feingold, who at 104 years old, is the oldest living Austrian Holocaust survivor:

“Anti-Semitism was already very much in evidence in the 1920s,” he says.

“But [Austro-fascist chancellors of the 1930s] Dollfuss and Schuschnigg created such poverty that 80 percent of Austrians welcomed the Anschluss,” the centenarian Jewish community leader in the city of Salzburg recalls.

Feingold had moved to Italy in the 1930s to escape that poverty. But he happened to find himself back in Vienna when, on March 13, 1938, German troops made their triumphant entry into the Austrian capital.

He was 24 years old and admits to having “no idea” of the true nature of what was afoot, as Vienna celebrated the Nazis’ arrival in a carnival atmosphere.

But reality soon hit home. “They say it was Germany which occupied Austria. But it was the Austrian women who occupied the Germans — every soldier had women throwing themselves at him.”

Feingold’s situation quickly worsened. “The Gestapo came to arrest our father, he was on a pre-prepared list as he was suspected of political activity. Since he wasn’t there they took me and my brother away...”

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