GRAZ: PDF Print E-mail

BOOK: Herzog, D. Der Juedische Grabstein in der Burg Graz (The Jewish tombstone in the City of Graz) . Frankfurt am main: 1928. 17 pages, German. 32V1628. Notes: one tombstone, Rabbi Nisim son of Rabbi Aharon, genealogy analysis. Source: Tagger, Mathilde. Printed Books on Jewish cemeteries in the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem: an annotated bibliography. Jerusalem: The Israel Genealogical Society, 1997.
The synagogue is located at Grieskai 58, Tel. 912-468. The community was established in 1864.


CEMETERY: Jewish cemetery in Wetzeldorf near Graz was purchased in 1865. The Jewish Cemetery and Ceremonial Hall in Graz-Wetzelsdorf is open Sundays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Source: Heritage and Mission, Jewish Vienna and Austria published by Vienna Tourist Board.


Synagogues Without Jews: see photos. "Located along the lush banks of the Mur river in the southeastern Austria, Graz was home to Jewish settlement as early as the end of the 13th century. Like most of the Jews in the middle ages, Graz's Jews were employed in money lending, especially to the nobles. The community was led by a Judenmeister, 'Jewish mayor,' and by a Iudex Judeorum, 'Jewish judge.' They owned a synagogue and a mikveh.

Expelled with the rest of Austrian Jewry at the end of the 15th century, they could not return to settle in Graz for the next 400 years. It was only in the mid 19th century that the community in Graz was reestablished.The synagogue in Graz was constructed in the Romantic style. Designed by the Viennese architect Maximilian Katscher and completed in 1892, the synagogue was a square brick building 20 meters high. Its center cupola rose 17 meters above the temple floor; with the external wooden cupola, its lantern and Star of David, the total height came to 30 meters above street level. It was a familiar landmark along the river.At the dedication of the synagogue the Chief Rabbi, Oberrabbiner Dr. Gudemann, declared: "There is no conflict for us between our Judaism and our Germanism. May the new House of God be a guardian of loyalty to the Fatherland, of love for the mother tongue and for the culture of the Fatherland."

Forty-six years later, on the infamous Kristallnacht of 1938, the stately building and the handsome Ceremonial Hall at the cemetery were destroyed in flames. The congregational office building and all its archives were set on fire. Three hundred fifty Jews of Graz were deported.Synagogenplatz, site of the demolished synagogue, was eventually remade into a vest pocket park; the community building was converted to headquarter the city fire department, and its second floor served the needs of the Jewish community for many years. In the center of the park a black granite monument memorialized the decimated Jewish community of Graz. Jewish symbols appear on each of the stone's four sides: the Star of David with dedication below, the tablets of the law, a seven-branched candelabrum, and an open Torah scroll.Below the dedication of the Jewish community to its 2000 members who were abused and tortured by the Nazis, there is a dedication by the city of Graz:

"To preserve the memory of our Jewish citizens

And their house of worship

We set up this monument in November 1988

As an admonition against any violent regime

Race hatred and inhumanity."

The inscription below the candelabrum reads:

"Under Kaiser Franz Josef I in 1892

On this spot was our great synagogue erected.

Under the violent National Socialist regime

On the 10th of November was our synagogue

Plundered, torched and destroyed."

The Kultusgemeinde, (congregation,) currently conducts services on major holidays, but most of the activity of the 100-odd-member group is social and cultural.

On the day of our visit, a congregational committee held a meeting to plan the proposed reconstruction of the Ceremonial Hall in the cemetery, a project to be funded generously by the municipality. They told us with mixed feelings about the invitation extended by the city to 25 former citizens of Graz now living in Israel, to return to Graz for a week's vacation as guests of the city. A busy program for the visit was in preparation.Not satisfied by the amends expressed by erection of the granite monument, the city of Graz built a new synagogue for the kehillah, on the Synagogenplatz foundations. Dedicated on the anniversary of Kristallnacht in 2000, this modern building serves the small Jewish community and is a magnet for visitors to the city" [February 2009]

Last Updated on Sunday, 14 June 2009 22:13
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