Anton Kraus, son of a merchant, was employed as a trainee in an accounting department of the Imperial and Royal Ministry of Finance between 1912 and 1914 after graduating from a secondary school in St. Pölten. At the beginning of the war in 1914 he volunteered for service in the Imperial and Royal Army and was later wounded several times. In 1919 Kraus began his studies in art history at the University of Vienna, which he financed from 1920 with an assistant position in the Nebehay art shop. On 2 April 1921, he married Melanie Pivetz, a private official from Cilli/Celje in Lower Styria. In 1927 Kraus received his doctorate from the University of Innsbruck with a thesis on Wendelin Dietterlin, supervised by Heinrich Hammer. Employed on a case-by-case basis as a research assistant for the inventory of monuments and in the library, Kraus unsuccessfully sought permanent employment in the National Library or the Federal Monuments Authority in the 1930s. In April 1932, he joined the NSDAP and received the membership number 1,084,283. In 1936, a professional perspective opened up for Kraus as a non-permanent scientific contract employee in the library of the Academy of Fine Arts, but he also continued to work in the Central Monument Protection Office. After the “Anschluss”, Kraus worked there in the export service until, as an "old fighter", he was given a civil service position at the Academy's library in 1939. By directive of 2 November 1939, Kraus was seconded by the Reich Minister of Education to Kraków for immediate duty with Kajetan Mühlmann, special representative for the protection of art and cultural assets in the occupied Polish territories. Together with the director of the Egyptian-Oriental Collection of the Kunsthistorische Museum (KHM), Hans Demel, the curator at the KHM's Coin Cabinet, Eduard Holzmair, and the head of the KHM's Imperial Armoury, Leopold Ruprecht, Kraus traveled to Kraków on 11 November 1939, to track down, "verify", and catalog hidden art and cultural objects from Polish collections. Under the guise of scientific registration, the group was to prevent "disappearances" and at the same time conduct surveys to facilitate the "seizure" and confiscation of Polish cultural property ordered on 16 December 1939. After his stay in Kraków, Kraus was assigned to the "Northern Group" headed by Josef Mühlmann, which became active in the castles, churches, museums and private collections of Warsaw. In 1940 Kraus returned to Vienna and from then on also worked as an expert for old paintings, hand drawings, graphic art and miniatures at the Dorotheum. After a positive political assessment, Kraus' appointment as art historian to the museum of the Reichsgau Niederdonau (Lower Danube) followed in 1942, where he was entrusted with the supervision of a newly established gallery focusing on art of the Gau Niederdonau and was involved in new acquisitions, also from Jewish property.
On 13 July 1945, he complied with the obligation to register under the Verbotsgesetz (Prohibition Act) but attempted to conceal his early accession to the NSDAP. However, his "Gauakt" (Regional File) and the card index sheet of the NSDAP local group Bauernfeldplatz clearly proved his early membership, which is why his name was put on the list of National Socialists, underlined in red as an "illegal" and he was dismissed. After the amendment of the National Socialist Act in 1947, his dismissal was rescinded, without back pay. Kraus died before his retirement in 1950.