Life Changes 1938

I was there.

After the Anschluss of Austria to the German Reich in 1938, everything changed. The family’s house was “Aryanised” and the Feldsbergs had to share the apartment with other expropriated Jewish families. Shortly afterwards, Grete’s father died of a heart attack.

Grete Stern, nee Feldsberg (1920), Austria

Grete Stern, nee Feldsberg (1920), Austria

Consider here Grete Feldsberg's experiences of antisemitism

Moving to Vienna

“In 1938 everything had already changed”, says Grete Stern, “You could not move freely any more - going to the movies, to the theatre, it was all forbidden for Jews.”

1) Read and discuss the text "Deprivation of property and 'Aryanization' - Urban History of Vienna" („Vermögensentzug und ‚Arisierung‘ - Stadtgeschichte Wiens“). Then answer the question.

  • 1a. What do you know about Aryanization in Vienna?

2) Listen to Grete as she talks about how life changed in Vienna after 1938. Then answer the questions.

  • 2a. Discuss your impressions in the group.

  • 2b. Grete Stern uses the time “Umbruch” (upheaval) for the takeover by the Nazis. There are several other terms commonly used for this time, e.g., “Anschluss 1938,” ”entry of the German Wehrmacht,” “annexation by Hitler’s Germany,” “seizure of power by the Nazis,”, “the dark years,” “when Austria ceased to exist.” What meaning do these different terms convey?


In 1941, Grete Stern, her mother Irma Feldsberg and her grandmother Cäcilie Zweig got the order to report for deportation. They managed to find a place for her grandmother in a Jewish retirement home in Vienna. Saying good-bye to her grandmother was the most terrible moment of all these years.

3) Listen to Grete as she talks about the deportation. Answer the question.

  • 3a. What does she describe as her most painful experience?

4) Read the Page of Testimony that Grete Stern submitted for her grandmother at the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center. Open the document in a new window >>

  • 4a. What do we discover from the document and why do you think it was important for Grete Stern to submit this Page of Testimony?

Austria’s „Anschluss“ to the German Reich

5) Look at the presentation that explains the changes that took place in Vienna around 1938.

  • 5a. What changed for the Jewish population of Vienna?

Extra Material