On March 12, 1938, the Third Reich annexed Austria in what became known as the Anschluss. Although many Austrians supported and celebrated the annexation, it posed an immediate threat to Austrian Jews.1 Jewish people in Vienna2—where they represented roughly ten percent of the population—were among the first to face increased persecution under the new regime.
Once incorporated into Nazi Germany, Austria almost immediately began adopting Nazi anti-Jewish policies. One of the first measures introduced was a boycott of Jewish businesses. Produced in March of 1938, the featured film footage documents the boycott in effect on Vienna's city streets. Captured by Ross A. Baker—a visiting American chemistry professor at the University of Vienna—the video clip shows several Jewish shops vandalized with the German-language words "JUDE" and "Nicht arisches Geschäft."3
Baker's film also captures the behaviors of people on the street. Locals are seen continuing with their daily business, shopping, and talking to one another. Others stop to examine the graffiti. Some people who walk by the shops seem undisturbed, some attempt to clean the windows, and others stop to peer into the shops. In the final sequence, Baker's wife Helen walks up and looks in the window before attempting to enter the store. A Nazi stormtrooper stops her, and the two speak briefly. Two other women watch as she is turned away from the store.
Although many individual citizens defied the boycotts and continued to shop at Jewish stores, the loss of business inflicted significant financial hardship on Jewish business owners, forcing many to close their shops. By 1939, Jewish businesses and properties were confiscated by the Nazi regime. The deportation of Vienna's Jewish community began in October 1941.