Sunday, November 23, 2008

Austria: New Jewish cemetery exhibit to open

The Bezirksmuseum Währing in Vienna will hold an exhibit entitled Orte der Erinnerung. Die jüdischen Friedhöfe in Hamburg-Altona und Wien-Währing (Places of Remembrance: The Jewish cemeteries in Hamburg-Altona and Vienna-Währing), from November 27-December 12 and from January 8-25, 2009.

The opening ceremony is at 6.30pm, November 27, at the Museum, Währinger Strasse 124 - Amtshaus Währing, Martinstrasse 100 (entrance at the corner)

Speakers will include Dr. Ariel Muzicant, President of the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde/IKG {Jewish Community} Vienna, and Frau Dr. Prammer, President of the Austrian Parliament. Hamburg will be represented by Frau Dr. von Jagow (Foundation for Historic Monuments Upkeep) and Herr Dr. Halévy (Institute for the History of German Jews of Hamburg), while. Herr Schreuder (Gemeinderat for Green Vienna) - who instituted the link between Hamburg and Vienna - will also speak.

Why is this exhibition taking place?

Both Hamburg Altona (1611-1869) and Vienna (1784-1879) have two historic Jewish cemeteries of similar size and dating roughly from similar periods. Both were neglected in WW2. The Vienna cemetery has barely recovered, but a Hamburg group has managed to restore the Altona cemetery and open it to the public. Währingerfriedhof remains closed. Here is a
link in German to the Altona cemetery which offers wonderful data and images when you explore it [I tried exploring *Indizes* first!].

here to see the location of the Vienna Währingerfriedhof here {marked with a circle]} - it is hemmed in between high walls and buildings which encroached on the cemetery grounds.

Hamburg-Altona has tombstones of the famous Warburg, Mendelssohn and Heine family members. In Währing, members of the Arnstein, Epstein, Königswarter and Hofmannsthal families are buried.

Both cemeteries have important Sephardic sections {Portuguese Jews in Hamburg} and members of the "Turkish" community of Vienna, who came from the Habsburg and Ottoman Empires.

Hopefully, this initiative will kick start the important restoration work in Vienna. Dedicated researchers in Vienna , notably Tina Walzer, have already done a lot of work in the cemetery and it should be available to the public. Click
here for a European Jewish Press article on the cemetery.

I am particularly keen that this restoration should take place as the Vienna cemetery should never have reached this stage of neglect. In addition, I have personal reasons for the restoration as many of my relatives are buried there.

Here are some evocative pictures when I visited, with special permission, a few years ago: I can be seen showing people the state of things - they are hardly better now.

1 comment:

  1. I have a picture of the tombstone of Rabbi Yitzhak Halevi Ish Horowitz that I found in connection with my research into the provenance of his silver scribe seal.want to see it? Believe he is in the Hamburg site.
    Murray zedeck