It took Austria almost 50 years to admit its part and its complicity in the crimes of National Socialism. Over 130,000 Austrian Jews were expelled by the National Socialist regime, and over 65,000 were murdered in the Shoah. By the end of the War the once flourishing Vienna Jewish community had been reduced to a few hundred people. Today’s community is largely the creation of ‘displaced persons’, since few Viennese Jews were willing or able to return. Neither were the government and the Vienna city administration of the day particularly interested in enabling the exiled Jews to return.
The City of Vienna is aware of its historical and moral responsibilities, acknowledges the city’s debt to the cultural heritage of Judaism, and is committed to modern Vienna’s role as an international meeting place. The Jewish Welcome Service was founded in 1980 at the initiative of then Mayor Leopold Gratz, City Councillor Heinz Nittel and Leon Zelman to demonstrate the presence of an active, self-confident Jewish community after the Shoah.
The Jewish Welcome Service sees its main task as acting as an ambassador for Jewish culture in Austria. In keeping with Vienna’s enlightened traditions, it seeks to build bridges for the future, so as to overcome prejudices and contribute to better mutual understanding. The Jewish Welcome Service and the city of Vienna are pleased to welcome you to Vienna.
Dr. Michael Häupl
Mayor and Governor
City and State of Vienna (ret.)
President of the Jewish Welcome Service Vienna