7627 - Jewish-Austrian Immigrants in Argentina

Approximately 2.300 Austrians escaped the national-socialist persecution to Argentina. Together with an Oral History research team I interviewed 80 of these former refugees still living in Buenos Aires. Further source material is a large correspondence between a Jewish family spread all over the world, numerous of documents and private photos.

In my paper I will focus on their arrival, their images and first impressions of Buenos Aires as well as on the reception and relationship to the Argentinean society, which was characterized especially by Italian and Spanish immigration. Those who managed to emigrate via Paraguay or Bolivia or obtained a work permit and visa for agriculture in the rural Argentinean provinces had more contact with local respectively native South American population than those who disembarked and stayed in the multi-cultural, but mainly “European” Buenos Aires, living in an urban German speaking sub-community. The first years in the new country of exile shocked in particular female Austrian immigrants and meant an immense challenge. They crashed into a deeply traditional society, shaped by high moral catholic standards with its conventional concepts of gender roles.

The emphasis of my paper is centered on the individual experiences of the difficulties to start a new life in a foreign country with an unknown language. The leitmotifs in the biographies of the refugees are the discontinuity and breaches in their family systems, the complex question of acculturation, assimilation, integration and identity, facing discrimination and anti-Semitism. The interviewees stress out these experiences especially during Peronism and the last military dictatorship from 1976-83, when memories of the trauma of brutal violations of national socialist persecution evoked.

Palabras claves: Argentina, Jewish-Austrian forced emigration, National Socialism

Autores: Mettauer, Philipp (Institut für jüdische Geschichte Österreichs, Austria / Österreich)


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