Nazi Government Starts Austrian Census to be Used to Identify and Find Austrian Jews

The Nazi government begins conducting a census in Austria; today is the first day that official government publications start referring to Austria as "the federal state of Austria" rather than as an independent nation. This census will find that Austria has 183,000 Jews living in 750 different Austrian towns. This census will be, as in all nations conquered by the Nazis, a key ingredient in conducting the Holocaust.

A census gives the Nazis more accurate information about who is a Jew and where the Jews can be found. By using IBM's Hollerith machines and their punch cards, the Nazis will be able to organize and manage detailed information about who is and is not Jewish, to trace people's racial lineage, to calculate how much they own, to track their movements, and far more.

By mid-1944, the Nazis have Hollerith Departments (Hollerith Abteilung) "installed at the main concentration camps at Mauthausen, Ravensbrück, Flossenbürg and Buchenwald." The SS Hollerith cards include codes for the grounds for confinement (Jehovah's Witness = 01, homosexuals = 02, Jews = 05), birth date, gender, ethnicity (Reich German = 0, Ethnic German = 1, Foreigner = 2), labor capacity, occupation, and reason for departure (execution = 3, escape = 4, special treatment = 6).

This information is sorted and tabulated to make the administration of the massive camp system possible. Dachau alone will be using 24 IBM machines by the end of the war. These machines are, in many ways, both the origin of the "surveillance society" and an example of everyone's fears about what happens when powerful authoritarians have too much access to too much information about us.


The Anschluss with Austria, 1938

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