Salzburg - Area of Competence: Land Salzburg

Synagogue built in: 1893
Earliest record of community: 1867
Last rabbi: Samuel David Margules
Community members: 1869-42; 1890-157; 1910-285; 1932-240; 1938-232
Pogrom Night: destroyed; later used as a storage room
Today: rebuilt 1968
Summary: Documentary evidence from the 12th century indicates that Jews then lived in the Salzburg province. Jews residing in the town of Salzburg itself had established a synagogue there before 1349; the building stood at what was then number 15 Judengasse (Jews’ Alley). In 1404, nearly all the Jews in Salzburg and the more southern town of Hallein were accused of sacrilege and ritual murder, and were burned at the stake. Jews did not return to Salzburg until 1429. When they did, they established another synagogue there. At this time, a synagogue existed in Hallein as well. Jews were expelled once again, this time from the entire Salzburg province, in 1498. They were prohibited from settling in the region until the mid-19th century.

Albert Pollak was the first Jew to return to Salzburg after the ban on Jewish settlement was lifted. He opened an antiquities store in 1867, after his request for permission to do so was granted by the authorities. Pollak was followed in the same year by some of his relatives and acquaintances from the Burgenland region (in today’s Austria), and from Bohemia (in today’s Czech Republic). Some of these Jews settled in other towns and villages in the Salzburg province, such as Gugenthal, Parsch, Bürmoos, Neumarkt and Badgastein. Pollak was a very active member of the small Jewish community in Salzburg. He put his own private Torah scroll at the disposal of the community until it could acquire its own. Initially, community members made rooms in their own dwellings available for use as prayer halls; thereafter the community rented various rooms on different streets, including Griesgasse, Linzergasse and Getreidegasse.

In Salzburg, a modest synagogue in which prayer services followed the Mannheim liturgy was inaugurated at 8 Lasserstrasse during the Jewish New Year celebrations of 1893. In the years that followed, aesthetic improvements were made to both the inside and outside of the building. There was also a prayer house in Hallein.

In 1869, Salzburg’s regional government made the numerically weak Jewish community in Salzburg subordinate to the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde (Israelite congregation) of Linz. Nevertheless, from the 1880s onwards, the Jews of Salzburg persevered in their endeavors to establish their own Kultusgemeinde. For example, in 1892, they acquired a plot of land in the district of Aigen (which had its own independent Jewish community) on which they laid a cemetery. Maintenance of this cemetery was the responsibility of the Salzburg chevra kadisha (burial society), which was founded for this very purpose. The Salzburg community even continued to employ its own rabbis. Until the community achieved its goal of independence in 1911, the following rabbis and religion teachers served in Salzburg: Dr. Moses Bach (1897-98), Dr. Jakob Drobinsky (1898-99), Dr. Johann Krängel (1901-3), and Wilhelm Pollak (1903-1907).

Dr. Adolf Altman, who as a religious Zionist exerted influence upon the Zionist movement, presided over the Salzburg community from 1907 until 1914, and again as provisional rabbi from 1918 until 1920, when he was called upon to serve as Chief Rabbi of Trier. Dr. Altman was an outstanding figure who took an active role in numerous cultural projects. He also authored a two-volume “Geschichte der Juden in Stadt und Land Salzburg, von den frühesten Zeiten bis zur Gegenwart” (History of the Jews in the town and province of Salzburg from the earliest times until the present). He was succeeded as Salzburg rabbi by Julius Augapfel, who was in turn succeeded by David Samuel Margules. Rabbi Margules served the community until its destruction in 1938.

A local branch of the Regional Zionist Association was founded in Salzburg in 1926. Jewish clubs and associations in the town included a branch of the Women’s International Zionist Organization and a B’nai B’rith Chapter, as well as other cultural, social and charitable groups.

On March 12, 1938, Jewish residents of Salzburg were arrested, and Nazi cells in the town began to confiscate Jewish property. Non-Austrian Jews were immediately expelled. On April 30, 1938, the Hitler Youth publicly burned 1,200 Jewish books in the town square. Despite all this, most Salzburg Jews began planning to emigrate only after the pogrom of November 9/10, 1938. That night, between 30 and 50 rioters, almost all whom were SA members, destroyed the Salzburg synagogue. Seven Jewish shops which had not yet been confiscated were demolished. Between 60 and 70 Jewish males were arrested and sent to Vienna and from there to the Dachau concentration camp. In early 1939, the remains of the synagogue and the Jewish cemetery were handed over to the SS. During the Second World War, the synagogue was desecrated and used as a warehouse.

After the war, several camps were opened in the Salzburg province to accommodate concentration camp survivors. In 1953, Jews who stayed in Salzburg after these camps were disbanded founded a Kultusgemeinde. The old synagogue on Lasserstrasse was rebuilt and inaugurated in 1968. As of 1990, approximately 100 Jews were living in Salzburg and the wider province.
Sources: - Genée, Pierre, Synagogen in Österreich, Wien 1992
- Fellner, G., Antisemitismus in Salzburg 1918-1938, Wien/Salzburg 1979
- Feingold, M. (Hg.), Ein ewiges Dennoch. 125 Jahre Juden in Salzburg, Wien/Köln/Weimar 1993
- Pototschnig, F., Putzer, P., Rinnerthaler, A. (Hg.), Semitismus und Antisemitismus in Österreich, München 1988
- Altmann, A., Geschichte der Juden in Stadt und Land Salzburg, Salzburg 1990
- Karin-Karger, Mendel, Salzburgs wiederaufgebaute Synagoge, Salzburg 1968
- Dokumentationsarchiv des Österreichischen Widerstandes (Hg.), Widerstand und Verfolgung in Salzburg 1934-1938, Wien/Salzburg 1991
Located in: Bundeslaender