Austrian Jewish Leader Warns anti-Semitism on Rise

Oskar Deutsch tells the Kurier newspaper that the Jewish community registered 135 anti-Semitic incidents last year, compared to 71 in 2011.

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The leader of Vienna's Jewish community says the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Austria reported to his office have doubled over the past year and adds that Jews are under duress elsewhere in the EU as well.

Oskar Deutsch tells the Kurier newspaper that the Jewish community registered 135 such incidents last year, compared to 71 in 2011.

In comments published Monday, he named Hungary, Sweden, Norway, Finland, France and Greece as the EU countries where Jews are most under threat, adding that fearful Jewish families in Hungary have recently started to immigrate to Austria.

On Saturday, Austrian newspaper reported that Vienna’s Jewish Museum holds hundreds of books and works of art that may have been stolen by Nazis.

A screening program that started in 2007, years after other Austrian museums began combing their collections for works taken from their rightful owners, has determined that about 500 works of art and 900 books are of dubious origin, Der Standard said.

It cited in particular paintings by Jehudo Epstein, who, while abroad in 1936, entrusted 172 works to industrialist Bernhard Altmann for safekeeping. Altmann fled the country in 1938 when Nazi Germany annexed Austria, and his factory was “Aryanized,” the paper said. The Nazis confiscated the paintings and in some cases erased the signature of the artist.

Epstein died in South Africa in 1945. After 1947, his widow tried in vain to track down the paintings, some of which were later sold at auction by Dorotheum, a huge Austrian auction house, the paper said. One of them, “Madchen mit blonden Zopfen” (The Girl With Blonde Braids), was purchased by gallery owner and restaurateur Kurt Kalb.

Several others are now in the Jewish Museum’s collection, the paper said, citing information it got from the museum after many requests.

In this picture taken May 6, 2011 an expert at the Documentation Center of Austrian Resistance points at a neo-Nazi website in Vienna, Austria.Credit: AP

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