The Stadttempel (English: City Prayer House), also called the Seitenstettengasse Temple, is the main synagogue of Vienna, Austria. The synagogue was constructed from 1824 to 1826. The luxurious Stadttempel was fitted into a block of houses and hidden from plain view of the street, because of an edict issued by Emperor Joseph II that only Roman Catholic places of worship were allowed to be built with facades fronting directly on to public streets. This edict saved the synagogue from total destruction during the Kristallnacht in November 1938, since the synagogue could not be destroyed without setting on fire the buildings to which it was attached. The Stadttempel was the only synagogue in the city to survive World War II, as Nazi paramilitary troops with the help of local authorities destroyed all of the other 93 synagogues and Jewish prayer-houses in Vienna, starting with the Kristallnacht. In August 1950, the coffins of Theodor Herzl and his parents were displayed at the synagogue, prior to their transfer for reburial in Israel. In the 1981 Vienna synagogue attack, two people from a bar mitzvah ceremony at the synagogue were murdered and thirty injured when Palestinian Arab terrorists attacked the synagogue with machine guns and hand grenades. Today the synagogue is the main house of prayer for the Viennese Jewish Community of about 7,000 members. The synagogue has been declared a historic monument. The synagogue was designed in elegant Biedermeier style by the Viennese architect Joseph Kornhäusel, architect to Johann I Joseph, Prince of Liechtenstein, for whom he had built palaces, theaters and other buildings. Construction was supervised by the official municipal architect, Jacob Heinz. The synagogue itself is in the form of an oval. A ring of twelve Ionic columns support a two-tiered women's gallery. Originally, the galleries ended one column away from the Torah Ark, they were later extended to the columns beside the ark to provide more seating. the building is domed and lit by a lantern in the center of the dome, in classic Biedermeyer style. A commemorative glass made at the time of the synagogue's dedication and etched with a detailed image of the synagogue's interior is now in the collection of the Jewish Museum (New York). The synagogue underwent renovation in 1895 and again in 1904 by the Jewish architect Wilhelm Stiassny, adding considerable ornamentation, and, in the opinion of architectural historian Rachel Wischnitzer, "the serene harmony of the design was spoiled by renovations." Damage inflicted on Kristallnacht was repaired in 1949. The synagogue was renovated once again in 1963 by Prof. Otto Niedermoser. Image Attribution: Bic (Wikimedia Commons), CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
The Jewish cemetery in Roßau, which is also known at the Seegasse Jewish cemetery because of its location in the Seegasse, is the oldest preserved cemetery in Vienna. Members of the city's Jewish community were buried here between 1540 and 1783. The Jewish cemetery lies in the suburb of Roßau in the 9th district of Vienna, Alsergrund, and covers an area of approximately 2000 m2. Today, the site is part of the yard of the old people's home in the Seegasse and can be accessed via the home. Where the home now stands, there used to be a Jewish establishment for quarantining the sick. In 1629, the Seegasse was known as the Gassel allwo der Juden Grabstätte and, from 1778 it was known as the Judengasse ("Jews' lane"). In 1862, it was renamed Seegasse (Lake lane) after a fish pond that used to be in the area which was described in a document from 1415 as a "lake". The Jewish cemetery in the Seegasse was created in the 16th century. Between 1540 and 1783, it was the main burial site for members of Vienna's Jewish community. Following a pogrom against Viennese Jews in 1670, the Jewish merchant Koppel Fränkel paid a sum of 4000 gulden, in return for which the city committed to maintain the cemetery. Use of the cemetery as a burial site continued thereafter until 1783, when emperor Joseph II forbade the use of all cemeteries within the city walls. A new cemetery for the Jewish community was created outside the city walls in the suburb of Währing (see Jewish Cemetery (Währing)). In line with the edicts of the Jewish religion, the cemetery in the Seegasse was left untouched, while Christian cemeteries within the city walls were closed and built over. In 1943, the Nazi authorities resolved to raze the cemetery and to build over the site. A group of engaged Viennese Jews responded by removing some of the gravestones, which they buried at the city's main cemetery, the Zentralfriedhof. In the 1980s, 280 of the 931 gravestones that were buried there were rediscovered and returned to their original homes as recorded in Bernhard Wachstein’s surveys of the cemetery from the 1910s. The cemetery was sanctified once again on 2 September 1984. The inscriptions on the gravestones in the cemetery are entirely in Hebrew.
The Jewish Museum of the City of Vienna is a place of encounter and understanding. It enables insights into Judaism, its holidays and customs, but also into youth culture. At its two locations, the Jewish Museum Vienna presents a unique overview of the history and the present-day life of Viennese Jews. We are looking forward to your visit! The Jewish Museum of the City of Vienna is a place of encounter, interaction and understanding, which seeks to raise awareness of Jewish history, religion, and culture. The first Jewish museum in the world was founded in Vienna in 1895, sponsored by a group of Viennese Jewish citizens. The collection focused on the culture and history of the Jews in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, particularly Vienna and Galicia. In the interwar years Zionist objects were added, reflecting the new political discussion at that time. The museum was closed by the Nazis in 1938 directly after the Anschluss. In the last year of its existence the inventory listed 6,474 objects. In 1939 the museum collection was transferred to the Museum of Ethnology and other institutions in Vienna. The Anthropology Department of the Natural History Museum in Vienna used some of the items for its anti-Semitic propaganda exhibition “The physical and psychological appearance of the Jews". Most of the objects were returned to the IKG Vienna in the early 1950s, although some were not restituted until the 1990s. Over half of the objects have disappeared; it is practically impossible to discover whether they were stolen or deliberately destroyed. Objects once listed in the Jewish Museum collection turn up occasionally on the art and antiques market. The surviving objects – on permanent loan from the IKG to the present-day Jewish Museum Vienna – form a unique component of the current collection.
The Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial also known as the Nameless Library stands in Judenplatz in the first district of Vienna. It is the central memorial for the Austrian victims of the Holocaust and was designed by the British artist Rachel Whiteread. The memorial is a steel and concrete construction with a base measuring 10 x 7 meters and a height of 3.8 meters. The outside surfaces of the volume are cast library shelves turned inside out. The spines of the books are facing inwards and are not visible, therefore the titles of the volumes are unknown and the content of the books remains unrevealed. The shelves of the memorial appear to hold endless copies of the same edition, which stand for the vast number of the victims, as well as the concept of Jews as "People of the Book." The double doors are cast with the panels inside out, and have no doorknobs or handles. They suggest the possibility of coming and going, but do not open. The memorial represents, in the style of Whiteread's "empty spaces", a library whose books are shown on the outside but are unreadable. The memorial can be understood as an appreciation of Judaism as a religion of the "book"; however, it also speaks of a cultural space of memory and loss created by the genocide of the European Jews. Through the emphasis of void and negative casting rather than positive form and material, it acts as a "counter monument" in this way opposite to the production through history of grandiose and triumphal monumental objects. As a work of art, the memorial was not intended to be beautiful and as such it contrasts with much of the Baroque art and architecture of Vienna. A member of the design jury had noticed a resemblance to a bunker and the military fortifications of the Atlantic wall were later confirmed by the artist as a source of inspiration for the project. There is an aspect of discomfort in the monument that was meant to provoke thought in the viewer through the memorial's severe presence. It was intended to evoke the tragedy and brutality of the Holocaust and in the words of Simon Wiesenthal at the unveiling, "This monument shouldn't be beautiful, It must hurt." Image attribution: Diana Ringo, CC BY-SA 3.0 AT , via Wikimedia Commons
The Mauthausen Memorial today is an international site of remembrance and political-historical education. Here, the memory of the victims is being preserved, the history of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp and its sub-camps is being researched and documented, and through exhibitions and educational programmes its visitors are empowered to deal with and discuss the history of concentration camps. From 1938 to 1945, the Mauthausen Concentration Camp was pivot to a system of more than 40 sub-camps, and the central site of political, social and racial persecution by the NS regime on the Austrian territory. Of a total of 190,000 persons held prisoners here, at least 90,000 were eventually killed. The Mauthausen Memorial aims at raising awareness for any resurgence of National Socialist activities, anti-Semitism, racism, discrimination of minorities and antidemocratic tendencies. Furthermore, it is supposed to contribute to preserving public knowledge and memory of National Socialist mass crimes committed at the former Mauthausen and Gusen concentration camps, and at all its sub-camps. The Mauthausen Memorial regards itself as a place of remembrance and education, with human rights education through live teaching of history being among its central tasks. It promotes the teaching of history, communicates its significance for present and future times and aims at pointing out comparable present day developments, tendencies and processes.
A Jewish bookshop, café, and cultural meeting point, the store now hosts the Jewish Info Point for Vienna: an initiative of the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien, with support from the city authorities and tourist organisations. As well as a starting point for tours, the Info Point offers information in various languages about Jewish life in the city, both past and present, as well as tips concerning relevant events and activities. The location is no coincidence, being close to both the community’s city temple and the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute.