July 20, 2013
Hidden Jewish gravestones unearthed in Vienna
By Ruth Ellen Gruber
(This post also appears on my Jewish Heritage Travel blog)
Three years ago, I posted on my Jewish Heritage Travel blog about Vienna's oldest preserved Jewish cemetery, the graveyard on Seegasse that dates from the 16th century, now hidden amid new buildings and entered through an old-age home on the site of what was a Jewish hospital. Many 17th and 18th century luminaries are buried here, including the financier and Court Jew Samuel Oppenheimer (who founded the Jewish hospital and restored the cemetery at the end of the 17th century) and Samson Wertheimer, who succeeded him as Court Jew.
News has now come that during the ongoing restoration of the cemetery, an important trove of buried matzevot has been discovered. According to Jewish community officials in Vienna, the stones appear to have been among those that were buried there in 1943 to protect them from the Nazis. A score of stones have been recovered in recent weeks, but hundreds more may be buried, according to Vienna Jewish officials.
It has long been known that gravestones from Seegasse were buried for protection during World War II – as I noted in my post in 2010, the guidebook “Jewish Vienna” published in 2004 by Mandelbaum Verlag, wrote that some were buried them on the spot and others were transported to the Central Cemetery and buried there.
The Associated Press published pictures of the new find and reported:
Seegasse Jewish cemetery surrounded by buildings. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber
See more at the Jewish Heritage Europe web site.
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