It is a little known fact that the expulsion and murder of the Jews in 1938 – 1945, was not the first such occurrence in the history of Austria.
The first officially decreed expulsion took place in 1420. The Jews residing in Vienna at the time were robbed of their belongings and banished. On March 12th 1421, the 300 Jews still remaining in Vienna were taken to the meadows of Erdberg and burned alive at the stake.
In 1600, Jews were again allowed to take up residence in Vienna, in the area corresponding to today’s 2nd District (Bezirk) of the City. By 1660, about 1300 Jewish men, women and children lived there. Nonetheless, anti-Jewish acts of violence began again. On February 28th 1670, Emperor Leopold I decreed that all Jews must leave Austria. The great Synagogue was transformed and renamed as the Leopoldskirche (Leopold Church).
Recounting these events provides a tragic insight into the prehistory of the Shoah in Austria, which raged there from 1938 to 1945 and in which 65.000 Jewish children, women and men were murdered.