Tyranny on the streets

© feld72


© Austrian National Library, Picture Archive
Nazi propaganda event celebrating May 1st 1938, view over Ringstraße to the Burgtor


Before the election the drive against the Jews was bad, but as soon as the vote was in, they really began to put the screws on. On the last Saturday that we were there, a Nazi was stationed in front of every Jewish store to prevent Aryans going in. We ran several experiments knowing that, as Americans, we could go wherever we chose. They stopped us, asked if we were Aryan and then informed us that it was a Jewish store. With one exception, it was sufficient to say that we were “Auslaender [foreigners]”, but this man was downright mean and threatened to arrest me if I went in. It was too close to our departure to take any chances, but I certainly was tempted to call his bluff … An Aryan caught buying in a Jewish store was often made to walk the streets wearing a large placard “Ich bin ein deutsches Schwein und kauf’ bei Juden ein.” […] Father saw a store owner being made to paint his own window with a huge JUDE – that was just before we left. They were all so designated.

May 1st 1938, letter, Helen Baker

Ross Baker, US-American chemist and professor at the City University of New York, was on a study visit carrying out some research at the University of Vienna in 1938. Together with his wife Helen and his sons he would witness what happened in March 1938 as well as the violence that dominated this period. The family documented their experiences related to the Anschluss in their diaries, letters and films.


© Austrian National Library, Picture ArchiveNazi propaganda event celebrating May 1st 1938, Monumental architecture on Maria-Theresien-Platz

On May 1st 1938, just a few weeks after the Anschluss, Vienna becomes stage to a large propaganda event of the Nazi regime celebrating the “Day of the German Volksgemeinschaft”. A huge temporary Nazi memorial featuring the emblem of the new regime is placed in Maria-Theresia Platz opposite the Burgtor. Crowds of people gather on Heldenplatz to listen to Hitler’s speech broadcast from Berlin celebrating May 1st.