At the outbreak of World War II almost 70,000 Jews according to the Nuremberg Laws were still living in Austria. To have the Reich »cleared of Jews« at a time when emigration had become extremely restricted, a Jewish »reservation« was to be created in Poland. The first deportations there took place in October 1939. The deported were to be used as forced laborers to set up the planned »reservation,« but when the project was abandoned, they were driven over the German-Soviet demarcation line. Before the completion of a deportation program of the German Reich, further deportations were organized from Vienna in February and March 1941. In five transports 5000 persons were deported to towns in the "General Gouvernement" and held in the ghettos there. In October and November 1941 more than 5000 were transported to the ghetto in Lodz/Litzmannstadt and 6000 to the ghettos in Minsk and Riga, in the so-called »Reichskommissariat Ostland.« On 29 November 1941 a transport intended to the Riga ghetto was stopped in Kaunas (Polish: Kowno) and all deported persons were shot on the spot. A similar fate was suffered by the deportees from nine other transports, who were sent from Vienna to Minsk (Maly Trostinec) in 1942. In April and May 1942, 5000 persons were sent to the ghettos in Izbica and Wlodawa and, like the people already deported in 1941, they were murdered in extermination camps in the course of »Operation Reinhard.« On 20 June 1942 the first of thirteen mass transports left Vienna for Terezín, which acted as a ghetto for the aged and as a kind of turntable for transporting deportees further to extermination camps in the east.
After the completion of the mass transports (more than 48,000 persons) from Vienna in October 1942, about 8000 Jews were still living in Vienna, partners in »mixed marriages« or those living with an »Aryan« partner. Subsequently, this figure was drastically reduced through the deportations of individuals or small groups.