Klosterneuburg (Judical districts Klosterneuburg, Tulln, Atzenbrugg, Kirchberg am Wagram)

Synagogue built in: 1913-1914
Earliest record of community: 1852
Last rabbi: Dr. Arnold Frankfurter, Wilhelm Steiner
Community members: 1890 - 500 (complete community); 1938 - 300; 1938 - 714 (complete community)
Pogrom Night: Fire damage; later Shelter for Hitlerjugend
After 1945: Torn down in 1991
Today: Apartment Building
Summary: In the Middle Ages, Klosterneuburg was home to one of Lower Austria’s most important Jewish communities, whose existence was documented from the 12th century onwards. The community’s synagogue was said to have stood in the area of today’s Schmiedhof. According to more recent topographic surveys, however, the location of the medieval synagogue may have been what is known today as 4 Albrechtsbergergasse. In 1421, anti-Jewish riots, later referred to as the “Viennese Gezera”, destroyed the local Jewish community. Not until 1848 – more than 400 years later, when Jews from Senica (formerly in Hungary, now in Slovakia) settled in the town - did a Jewish community exist once again in Klosterneuburg.

In 1852, the “Synagogue Congregation of Klosterneuburg” was founded by sixteen Jewish families, who established a prayer hall at 9 Stadtplatz and founded a Cheder (Jewish elementary school). The prayer hall functioned according to orthodox principles and was used until the inauguration of a new synagogue in 1914. Prior to the opening of a Jewish cemetery in the Holzgasse in 1874, the community’s deceased were buried in Wien-Währing.

In 1890, the Klosterneuburg Jews amalgamated with the Jewish community in nearby Tulln and together they founded the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Tulln mit dem Amtssitze in Klosterneuburg (Jewish Congregation of Tulln with a Central Office in Klosterneuburg). Dr. Leopold Weinsberg was rabbi of the newly established community. His successor, Dr. Adolf Schächter, who served from 1897 until 1934, was himself succeeded by the man who was to be the last rabbi of the Kultusgemeinde, Dr. Arnold Frankfurter. Both Rabbi Schächter and Rabbi Frankfurter worked mainly in St. Pölten. Therefore, from 1910 until 1938, most rabbinical duties in Klosterneuburg were performed by Wilhelm Steiner, who had been ordained as a rabbi at the famous Yeshiva of Pressburg, founded by the renowned Rabbi Moses Sofer.

Jewish community life in Klosterneuburg was very active at the turn of the 20th century, when the community members who had originally founded the former prayer hall established the Klosterneuburg Chevra Kadisha (Jewish Burial Society of Klosterneuburg). In 1911, members of the congregation founded the Jewish Popular Association as the local branch of the Zionist Association of Austrian Societies in Vienna for the Colonization of Palestine and Syria. A Jewish Mutual Welfare Association and a Jewish Ladies’ Association were also established.

August 1914 saw the inauguration of the new synagogue. There were 120 seats for men and 80 for women. The synagogue had four Torah scrolls.

In the 1930s, social ostracism and persecution of Jews increased notably. The Klosterneuburg synagogue was attacked several times; its windows were smashed and its façade smeared with paint. Many Jewish families left town. Those who stayed were later forced to wear the yellow star; eventually they were transported to Vienna and deported from there to concentration camps.

On Pogrom Night, November 9/10, 1938, Nazis attacked the synagogue and burned it, along it its books and other contents. The fire brigade intervened to prevent the total destruction of the synagogue building, because, by that time, it housed a branch of the Bund Deutscher Mädchen (Union of German Girls).
Sources: - Genée, Pierre, Synagogen in Österreich, Wien 1992
- David, Jüdische Kulturzeitschrift in Österreich
- Erber, H., Aus der Geschichte der Juden in Klosterneuburg, in: Moses, L. (Hg.), Jüdisches Archiv. Zeitschrift für Jüdisches Museal- und Buchwesen, Geschichte, Volkskunde und Familienforschung, Heft 1-2, 5-6, 6, Wien 1928
- Vor 50 Jahren: Anschlag auf jüdische Synagoge, in: Niederösterreichische Nachrichten, 45/1988
- Schütz, Ilse, Klosterneuburg in der "Kristallnacht", Niederösterreichische Kulturberichte 2/92
- Klosterneuburg. Geschichte und Kultur, Bd. 1, Stadtgemeinde Klosterneuburg (Hg.), 1992
- Duscher, M., Die Entwicklung des Vereinswesens in Klosterneuburg von 1867 bis zur Gegenwart, Diplomarbeit Wien 1989
- Die Gemeinde, offizielles Organ der Israelitischen Kultusgemeinde Wien