Heritage & Heritage Sites

 

GENERAL

 

Jewish Cemeteries in Austria 

The Vienna Jewish community web site includes links to lists and information regarding all known Jewish cemeteries in Austria, arranged geographically by region. There is also a database where one can make specific search queries for graves.

International Jewish Cemetery Project page for Austria

Synagogues in Austria (Ashkenaz House) 

Information and pictures regarding destroyed and existing synagogues all over Austria.

Synagogue Internet Archive

Information about more than 2200 German and Austrian synagogues, including photographs, drawings, documents: “With this archive we want to remember more than 2200 synagogues that were closed, desecrated or destroyed in Germany and Austria during the Nazi regime. At the same time, we want to inform the user about what happened to the buildings that remained standing after 1945 and to other former sites.” The site has many links, as well as a rich bibliography of both general publications and publications about individual synagogues.

Jewish News from Austria

Web Site of the Austrian Press and Information Service in Washington DC, with a variety of resources, links and news.

 

VIENNA

 

As the historic capital of Austria and the wider Habsburg Empire alike, Vienna has for many centuries been an important center of Jewish cultural life. Judenplatz (Jewish square) still exists, near the site where Austria’s first known synagogue stood in the 13th century, before the Jews of Vienna and Lower Austria were massacred or expelled in 1420-21. A new Jewish community was established after the Edict of Privileges of 1624. Settlement was permitted on part of a large island adjacent to the city walls, in an area that became known as ‘Im Unteren Werd’, today part of Leopoldstadt in Vienna’s Second District. A large synagogue was constructed, but within decades a second expulsion took place and the synagogue was rebuilt as St. Leopold’s Church (Alexander-Poch-Platz 6). Despite this and later restrictions, by 1753 about 500 Jews lived in Vienna, with many more in the Austrian provinces. By the 1900s the city was home to 175,318 Jews, comprising the third biggest Jewish population in Europe after Warsaw and Budapest. Ten per cent of the city’s population and 60 per cent of its doctors were Jewish. Twenty-two synagogues and some 40 smaller prayer houses were destroyed during Kristallnacht in 1938 and afterwards. Of all these structures, only the Stadttempel, built in 1826, survives.

Jewish heritage sites in Vienna (aside from new facilities used by the Jewish community today) include the Stadttempel and Judenplatz, in the historic inner city; four Jewish cemeteries;  memorial monuments and plaques, and city and memoryscapes in the Second and other districts of the city. There is also a Jewish Museum plus other museums and Institutions dealing with Jewish culture and history. We provide here general links to these sites as well as links to specific places that have their own web pages.

 

GENERAL VIENNA LINKS

 

Virtual Vienna — Jewish Vienna

A very rich web site with links to many articles and web pages about Jewish life, culture, history and heritage in Vienna

Jewish Vienna — city tourism site

Jewish Vienna — Heritage and Mission (downloadable pdf guidebook)

Very detailed, illustrated 25-page brochure produced by the city’s Jewish Welcome Service with history, heritage sites, addresses, articles, and much other information.

Virtual Jewish History Tour — Vienna

 

INNER CITY

 

Judenplatz

Before the 17th century, Judenplatz (Jewish Square) was the center of Jewish life in Vienna. The site was known as the Schulhof in the Middle Ages, becoming the Judenplatz only after the expulsion of the Jews in the 15th century. Excavations have revealed the line of a north-south medieval street running through the site of the square, lined first with wooden houses, replaced in stone from the 13th century onwards, when the synagogue was also built.

Judenplatz today is a singular place of remembrance. It includes Rachel Whiteread’s Nameless Library’ Holocaust memorial, and underground, the important remains of the medieval synagogue that was destroyed in 1421 and discovered during construction of the memorial. These are now displayed in the Judenplatz museum, a branch of the Jewish Museum Vienna, accessed through the historic Misrachi-Haus. Also in the square is a mediaeval inscription of 1497 celebrating – literally – the destruction and reuse of stones from the synagogue in the building of the nearby university, and explaining that the Jews deserved the fate that befell them. Centuries later a statue was built here of the dramatist Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-81), a key figure in the German Enlightenment, good friend of Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786), and defender of Jewish emancipation. The modern Mizrachi synagogue, a small prayer room in the Misrachi-Haus, was opened after the Second World War. Modern plaques also record the former existence of a medieval Jewish hospital and several historic dwelling places in the area; other Jewish structures, including a mikveh and slaughterhouse, are believed to lie nearby.

Within the rest of the historic old city — the First District — of Vienna, stand further landmarks from Vienna’s later Jewish history, the 19th and early 20th centuries in particular. These include, for example, a plaque commemorating a stay by Franz Kafka and Max Brod, on the Graben Hotel at 3 Dorotheergasse; and one marking the former site of Moritz Perles’s publishing house and bookshop at 4 Seilergasse. Perles published many of the seminal works of science and medicine in fin-de-siècle Vienna, including several by Sigmund Freud.

Synagogue: Stadttempel (and Jewish Community office)

Founded in 1826, the Stadttempel was the first purpose-built synagogue erected in Vienna in modern times; it is the only synagogue in Vienna to have survived World War II.  The synagogue owes its survival in large part to the fact that it was deliberately constructed as part of a residential complex, so as to be invisible from the street. (After the destruction of the medieval synagogue in 1421, worship – when possible at all – usually took place in private residences or small prayer rooms in buildings erected for other purposes.)

Designed by Josef Kornhäusel (1782-1860) a leading architect who served the imperial court and the Prince of Liechtenstein, the synagogue has a distinctive oval plan. This was unique at the time it was created, and the combination of domed form and Neoclassical stylistic elements was highly influential. The elliptical sanctuary  has a blue dome and skylight supported by 12 large marble Ionic columns and a three-tiered gallery; the effect is one of great elegance.

Between 1895 and 1904, screens were removed from the galleries, which were extended all the way to the Ark. These changes were part of a remodelling by Wilhelm Stiassny (1842-1910), an influential architect who designed many synagogues throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire — these included the destroyed  Polish Synagogue in Leopoldstrasse (1893) and the Ceremonial Hall of Vienna’s main cemetery, the Zentralfriedhof. The synagogue was not destroyed on Kristallnacht for fear of fire spreading to other building. It was re-opened for worship in 1945, and was fully repaired in 1963 under the direction of Otto Niedermoser (1903-1976), who largely returned the structure to its late 19th-century appearance. The synagogue complex houses the offices of the Jewish community.

 

 JEWISH CEMETERIES

 

The Cemetery Page on the Vienna Jewish Community web site has information and photos, including visitor information, on the four Jewish cemeteries in the city: the Rossauer Cemetery, the Währinger Cemetery, the Floridsdorf Cemetery and the Central Cemetery (Zentral Friedhof).

 

ELSEWHERE IN VIENNA

Former General Hospital Jewish Prayer House

Now part of the University of Vienna, this small prayer pavilion was designed by Max Fleischer and built in 1903. It was used by Jewish patients in the hospital. It has now been converted  into  a accessible place of remembrance (and art project, by Minna Antova) called “Marpe Lanefesh”, or “healing for the soul.

 

 BURGENLAND

 

The Austrian state of Burgenland is a border area along the border with Hungary, contested for centuries by the two powers. Jewish settlement here was extensive, dating back to the Middle Ages and especially encouraged in the latter part of the 17th century. The most famous of the Jewish settlements in the area are the ‘Seven Holy Communities’ (Hebrew: Sheva Kehilot Kedoshot) which were under the protection of the Esterhazy [Estrházy] family: Deutschkrertz, Eisenstadt – their main seat, where the Jewish history and remains are especially significant – Kittsee, Frauenkirchen, Lackenbach, Mattersburg and Kobersdorf. There are also remnants of medieval synagogues at Hainburg and Korneuburg, and at least 14 Jewish burial sites and a few memorial plaques visible in this region. After the Anschluss in 1938, the Burgenland Jews were the first in Austria to be expelled from their homes and deported.

Burgenland Bunch 

Genealogy-oriented web site with information and photos on a number of Jewish sites in western Hungary and eastern Austria.

 

JEWISH CEMETERIES IN BURGENLAND

 

Information on the Austrian Jewish Community web site about Jewish cemeteries in 14 towns in Burgenland: Bad Sauerbrunn, Bruckneudorf (discovered in 2012), Deutschkreutz, Eisenstadt, Frauenkirchen, Gattendorf, Güssing, Kittsee, Kobersdorf, Lackenbach, Mattersburg, Oberwart, Rechnitz, Stadtschlaining

 

EISENSTADT

The town has a well-preseved old Jewish ghetto — a complex of yellow, rose, blue and cream buildings,  most dating from the 17th century; two Jewish cemeteries located here, and the Austrian Jewish Museum, Austria’s oldest Jewish museum, whose complex includes a synagogue.

The bishop of Eisenstadt allowed Jews to trade and settle in Eisenstadt in 1378. Soon this town was the only place in eastern Austria with a fully functioning Jewish community. In 1626 Count Nicholas Esterhazy (1582–1645) invited Jews to settle in Eisenstadt as Schutzjuden (protected Jews who had paid for a residence permit) living in a ghetto within the boundaries of his palace. In 1671, Emperor Leopold I (1656–1705) expelled the Eisenstadt Jews, but soon after, Paul Esterhazy (1635–1713) helped the community to resettle in another section of the town, creating a new ghetto on his private lands at Unterberg. This became known as Unterberg Eisenstadt and ‘Little Jerusalem’. In 1690 the community was granted autonomy in return for taxes and annual gifts; the buildings of the ghetto were badly damaged in a fire of 1795, but the community continued to thrive; at its largest, in 1840, the community had 876 members. Prior to their deportation in 1938, 466 Jews lived in the city and 534 in the surrounding rural areas. Between April and July of 1938 all Jews were removed, and Jewish property ‘Aryanised,’ by the Nazi regime. Only a few survivors returned after the Holocaust.

 

Austrian Jewish Museum and Wertheimer Synagogue

Unterbergstrasse 6
A-7000 Eisenstadt
+43 2682 65145
+43 2682 65145-4
info@ojm.at

 

The Austrian Jewish Museum, dedicated to Jewish life in the province of Burgenland, opened in 1982 in the former mansion of Samson Wertheimer (1659-1724), where there is also a private synagogue.

Wertheimer had a prominent role at the Viennese court, where from 1694 to 1709 he worked for emperors Leopold I, Joseph I, and Charles VI as Hofoberfaktor or chief administrator of financial affairs. He also served the Esterhazy family in Burgenland and was Rabbi of Hungary and Moravia.

Wertheimer provided a synagogue, mikveh (ritual bath) and Jewish school to the ghetto during a period of rebuilding from 1675. Later, in 1696, Prince Paul Esterhazy rewarded Wertheimer with a mansion in recognition of his 20 years’ devoted services to the family’s financial affairs. Wertheimer refurbished the building and installed in it a private synagogue; it later passed into the hands of the Wolf family, which maintained a prosperous kosher wine business in the city. Today the mansion and synagogue are the site of the Austrian Jewish Museum.

A mob destroyed Eisenstadt’s main synagogue on Kristallnacht in 1938 but the they overlooked the  Wertheimer Shul,  hidden above the Wolf Company’s offices. The synagogue was re-consecrated for Jewish worship in 1979.

In its current form the synagogue dates almost entirely from 1832, having been refurbished after the Eisenstadt ghetto was badly damaged in a fire of 1795. Its design includes many elements typical of the period, including a high ceiling and a chandelier hanging from a painted rosette. At the inauguration of the building in 1834, members of the community contributed ceremonial silver, a painted glass beaker for the Hevrah Kadisha (Burial Society), Torah scrolls, an elaborate Parohet (Ark curtain) and a parchment Megillah (Scroll of the Book of Esther) executed by the scribe Elie Gabriel, all of which are among the items displayed in the museum today.

There is also a memorial plaque to local Jews who died in the First World War; one of the names commemorated is Fritz Austerlitz, whose namesake and nephew was Fred Astaire.

 

Jewish Cemeteries

The old Jewish cemetery was used from 1679 to 1875. An inventory in 1922 recorded 1140 gravestones. The second, consecrated in 1875, is at the corner of Wertheimergasse and Parkgasse. Fewer than 300 gravestones are visible, but there were certainly many more before 1938.

 

ELSEWHERE IN AUSTRIA

 

GRAZ

Synagogue

David Herzog Platz 1
8020 Graz, Austria
Tel: +43 (0) 316 71 24 68 – 12
Fax: +43 (0) 316 72 04 33
Email: synagoge@ikv-graz.at

 

Graz’s modern new synagogue, designed by architects Jörg and IngridMayr,  was dedicated in 2000 on the site of the large, domed, pre-war synagogue that was destroyed on Kristallnacht. The new building featured a glass dome and 12 pillars representing the 12 tribes of Israel.

 

Jewish Cemetery

Founded in 1864 in the western part of town, it has more than 1,450 graves; the ceremonial hall was destroued in 1938. The cemetery is kept locked, but visitors can get the key from the Jewish community office.