Steyr - Political districts: Enns- and Steyrtal, Kirchdorf a.d. Krems

Synagogue built in: 1894
Earliest record of community: 1857
Last rabbi: Chajm Schmarja Nürnberger
Community members: 1857-50; 1897-202; 1923-82; 1934-78
Pogrom Night: not destroyed
After 1945: expropriated
Today: Drug store
Summary: The first Jews to settle in Steyr, a city in Upper Austria, arrived there in the 13th century. The earliest record mentioning a Judendorf (Jews’ village) near Steyr is a document from 1310. Several Jewish families lived in Steyr and its environs. They earned a living primarily through moneylending and grain and wine production. In 1420/21 all the Jews of Steyr and indeed Upper Austria were expelled or murdered during the violent anti-Jewish persecutions known as the Vienna Gezerah. Individual Jews lived in Steyr in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the mid-19th century a sizable number of Jews, hailing mainly from Southern Bohemia, settled in Steyr and established a synagogue at 99 Steyerdorf (today 16 Gleinkergasse). One source indicates that there was a synagogue and a school in a guest house at 16 Gleinkergasse. In 1870, the Steyr community came together to form an Israelitischer Kultusverein (Israelite congregation). According to the congregation’s articles of foundation, a cantor, a teacher for the religious education of young people and a ritual slaughterer were to be employed. In 1873, the congregation decided to lay a cemetery—still in existence today—and establish a chevra kadisha (burial society). In 1892, the Kultusgemeinde Steyr (Steyr congregation) was officially established, and Abraham Jäger, the community’s teacher of religion, was appointed registrar. The town council of Steyr confirmed Jäger as deputy rabbi. In February 1894, the post of rabbi was accepted by Ignaz Baum. He was, however, replaced in October of the same year by Ignaz Schulhof. Also in 1894, the community bought the two-story corner building at 5 Bahnhofstrasse and converted it into a synagogue. A second prayer house in Bad Hall functioned during the vacation season from May to September. In 1896 Heinrich Schön was appointed rabbi. He served the community for thirty years, also as a teacher of religion, until his death. In 1926, the congregation engaged the services of Rabbi Chayim Shemarya Nürnberger, who functioned mainly as a teacher of religion. Dr. Samuel Nagelberg was in charge of the liturgy used in the synagogue. Two Jewish associations—a Jewish ladies’ association and a branch of a Zionist youth movement Brith Trumpeldor, established by Rabbi Nürnberger’s son—were founded in the early 1930s. Almost all the young Jews in Steyr joined the Brith Trumpeldor. After the Anschluss (the annexation of Austria to Hitler’s Germany) Jewish shops and houses in Steyr were expropriated. The first arrests of Jews, among them Rabbi Nürnberger, took place. The community’s board established an organization to assist Jews fleeing Austria. In August 1938 the Nazis expropriated the synagogue building. On October 1, 1938, the Linz Gestapo dissolved the Steyr congregation. On Pogrom Night, November 9-10, 1938, there were violent anti-Jewish riots in Steyr. Dolf Uprimny, a native of Steyr, who later succeeded in escaping to Israel, wrote an account of that night. Even the residents of our apartment building gave us a taste of the war against the Jews conducted by the Nazis. As an SA man, the son of one such resident forced his way into our apartment on Reichskristallnacht (the night of the pogrom) and photographed everything. The Sparkasse bank had a display window in which photographs were displayed of the homes that had been wrecked and of the Jews in prison. My mother was locked up because she got upset about what was happening in our apartment. She wanted to commit suicide but was prevented from doing so by a policeman. The residences of Jews were searched and robbed – often with the help of the residents of the building. On Reichskristallnacht we were driven from Wieserfeldplatz to Wehgraben and then on to the police station where we were interrogated. My sister was beaten during the interrogation. We were then taken to the prison on Berggasse. I and my little brother were taken to a cell where there was a 70- or 80-year-old Jew by the name of Deutsch, from Neuzeug. The cell was full of Jews. The jailer was very upset because he knew everyone and even children were being imprisoned. My brother was only six years old. When he was asked why he was in prison, he replied that it was because he was a Jew. He knew—he answered the SS men proudly—what a Jew was. Women were also imprisoned. (Vergessene Spuren, p. 158). Many Steyr Jews who did not succeed in fleeing Austria were deported to concentration camps. According to the statement issued by the Reich Minister of the Interior, no Jews remained in the provincial district of Steyr as of December 11, 1939. After the Second World War, a displaced persons camp housing 2,000 Jewish refugees was set up in Steyr. A Jewish congregation was established and became affiliated with the official Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Linz (Israelite congregation of Linz). In 1950, restitution proceedings were initiated to have the former synagogue building returned to the Jewish congregation of Linz, as the legal successor of Steyr’s Jewish community. In the course of these proceedings, the Pichler family legally bought the building. A memorial plaque for the Jews of Steyr was affixed to the building on November 8, 1992.
Located in: Bundeslaender