During the fall-winter months of 1942-1943 Nazi Germany suffered its first major military defeats in several theaters of the war: The defeat at El Alamein, followed by the landing of Allied forces in North- Africa (Operation Torch) and the encircling of the Sixth Army at Stalingrad signaled a possible shift in the course of the war. However, despite these setbacks the Nazis proceeded with the extermination policies. On February 7, 1943, several days after the German surrender at Stalingrad, Hitler addressed a group of Gauleiters (district party leaders) assembled at Rastenburg. He repeated his threat that Jewry must be eliminated from Europe.
From January 1943 onwards, Auschwitz- Birkenau and Theresienstadt were the main destination of transports from the German Reich. The Gestapo increased its efforts to seize and deport the remaining Jews in Germany.
After the mass deportations of 1942, 8,000 Jews remained in Vienna (Wien). On October 10, 1942, Alois Brunner, head of Central office for Jewish Immigration, informed Dr. Löwenherz that the Jewish Community, which still had formal legal status, would be dissolved. The Jewish population would be represented by a Jewish Council (“Ältestenrat der Juden in Wien”). All Jews residing in Vienna, including Christians of Jewish origin referred to this council.
The Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna gradually began to narrow its activity. On July 6 1942, it moved its headquarters to the Jewish community’s building on Castellezgasse 35, which previously served as a collection point for deportees. At that time, the majority of personnel of the central office had been sent to other European countries to arrange deportations of Jews from these areas to extermination camps. In October 1942, its name was altered to Abwicklungstelle für jüdische Auswanderung. In the beginning of 1943 the Central Office for Jewish Emigration was dissolved, and the local Gestapo was assigned to supervise the remaining Jews in Vienna. The Gestapo deported about 3,000 Jews between 1943 and 1945.
On February 20, 1943, department IVB4 of the RSHA issued new directives concerning the deportation of German Jews to the East. These new guidelines permitted the deportation of Jews who had been employed by the war industry.
Transport 47b left Vienna’s Nordbahnhof on March 31 and arrived in Auschwitz Birkenau. 82 Jews were deported from Vienna with this transport. The average age of the deportees was 38 years; six of them were older than 61. Five armed policemen under the command of a “Revierleutnant der Schutzpolizei” by the name of Franz Reinbacher were assigned to guard the train throughout the journey. The guards were instructed to report at the postal ramp of the train station at 04:30 AM. The deportees were led to the train station and put on a train.
Historian Danuta Czech notes in the Auschwitz-Chronicle that this was “collective transport” (Sammeltransport) which included Jews from various cities in Germany. Upon arrival, the SS men carried out a selection. 77 men were sent to the prisoners’ camp and given the Nos. 112195-11271. 23 women were sent to the womens’ camp and given the Nos. 39840-39963. The remaining deportees were murdered in the gas chambers shortly after their arrival.
At the end of World War II, around 5,000 Jews remained in Vienna.