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The Unthinkable

Emotional reaction of one Austrian Jew to the Anschluss

“What yesterday seemed to me barely fathomable, a thought which I would thrust aside so that it would not enter my mind, is no longer a matter of trepidation and grief to me: emigration.”


In spite of numerous signals that Austria was changing its political course, the Anschluss on March 12 caught many Austrian Jewish citizens by surprise. One of them was 25-year-old law graduate Paul Steiner. As is often the case with witnesses of cataclysmic historical events, he did not understand the magnitude of the change until it was a fact. On the day of the Anschluss, he expressed feelings of disbelief in his diary. Within just a few hours of the historical change, Steiner’s love and commitment to Austria changed into a feeling of indifference and alienation. Not seeing any hope in the new Austrian political reality, he made the quick but rational decision to leave his native land as soon as possible.


Follow a 24-hour multimedia reconstruction of the Annexation of Austria online at www.zeituhr1938.at

Live from March 11, 2018, 18:00 until March 12, 2018, 18:00 (Central European Time)




Leo Baeck Institute – New York | Berlin


Paul Steiner Collection, AR 25208


Box 1, folder 7


on the days before