Der Standard, September, 20, 2019
The President of the Jewish Community Salzburg remained active and engaged in old age.
Salzburg – With Marko Feingold, Salzburg has not only lost the President of its Jewish Community, but also one of the last remaining witnesses of Nazi terror and the organizer of the Jewish exodus between 1945 and 1948.
Born in present-day Slovakia, Feingold survived four concentration camps—including the horror of Auschwitz—and was liberated in 1945 by U.S. troops at the Buchenwald concentration camp. Since a return to Vienna, where Feingold spent his school days, was not possible in 1945, he remained in Salzburg by accident.
Soon the U.S. authorities noticed his organizational talents and tasked him with taking care of the Jewish refugees stranded in Salzburg.
Organization of Onward Journeys of Displaced Persons
Feingold—briefly also President of the newly constituted Jewish Community—organized the onward journeys of thousands of displaced persons towards the British protectorate of Palestine within the framework of the Jewish refugee aid organization Bricha. In addition, in 1947 he also enabled some 5,000 Jews to flee to Italy on foot via the Krimmler Tauern. Feingold had discovered the loophole after the Brenner mountain pass had been closed for Jewish refuges due to pressure from British authorities.
After the establishment of the state of Israel, the political waters surrounding Feingold calmed a bit. The trained businessman opened a fashion store together with Edi Goldmann, who also survived the Buchenwald concentration camp and came to Salzburg.
While his business partner got politically organized with the Social Democratic Freedom Fighters, Feingold had broken with the Social Democrats (SPÖ). As a Jew he was not welcome in the party after 1945, he said during a conversation with Der Standard.
Rejected Reconciliation Attempts
Later reconciliation attempts by the SPÖ during the 1990s were repeatedly rejected by Feingold, emphasizing the non-partisan nature of his position as President of the Jewish Community—until he eventually did become a honorary member of the SPÖ after all.
As a contemporary witness Marko Feingold remained active and engaged even at an old age. On the occasion of his 105th birthday he even sought a dialogue with the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) and their chairman at the time, Heinz-Christian Strache—a step that was not seen in a positive light by all Jews in Austria.
Feingold was elected as President of the Jewish Community in 1979 – shortly after his retirement. He held this position for more than three decades. Marko Feingold passed away on Thursday due to complications from pneumonia.
„Not just the Austrian Jewish Community, but all of Austria have lost a very special person today,“ said Oskar Deutsch, President of the Jewish Community. „A teacher, an enlightened individual, an admonisher, and most importantly a wonderful human being and a friend.“
ORF Changes Programming
The Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) changes its programming in honor of the late Holocaust Survivor. On Saturday at 10:45 pm ORF III will show a 20-minute interview from 2015, at 10:30 am ORF 2 will show a portrait of Feingold as part of its religious program Orientierung, and Radio Ö1 will dedicate a Journal Panorama at 6:25 pm.