Jewish Sports Club Hakoah Returns to Prater in Vienna

Austrian Press Agency (APA) (12/06/2006)

Vienna – The return of the Jewish sports club Hakoah in Prater in Vienna is gradually moving forward. Under bright sunshine, the foundation stone was laid today, Monday, for the new sports facilities on the site which was confiscated in 1938 by the National Socialists. Moreover, the Israelite Religious Community’s (IKG) Zwi Perez Chajes School (ZVC) will be built on the land in the Leopoldstadt district.

Almost seven million euros have been given by the Federal government and City of Vienna for building the sports center, the construction of which began some months ago. Still uncertain remains the financing of the indoor swimming pool. One is confident that the required 2.25 million euros needed could be raised with help of sponsors, said Paul Haber, President of the Jewish sports club Hakoah. This was also confirmed by the fundraiser and swimming star, Markus Rogan.

After demolition of the present buildings and disposal of some 60,000 tons of rubble, a four-level modern building will be built for the Zwi Peres Chajes school center as well as a two-floor modern building for the Hakoah sports facilities on an area designated for sports, a playground, lawn and future development. Completion is planned for beginning 2008.

The ZPC School will be large enough to hold six hundred children and will contain a kindergarten, primary school and high school. It will accommodate also a synagogue and library. The Hakoah sports and recreation center will feature, among other things, a three-part gymnasium along with a spectator capacity for about 260 people as well as areas outside for tennis, track and field and a sunbathing area.

Attending under strict security the laying of the foundation stone were Minister of the Interior Liese Prokop, Vienna Finance Councilor Sepp Rieder and the Federal Speaker for the Greens, Alexander Van der Bellen. This project signified the largest Jewish center in all of Europe, emphasized Ariel Muzicant, President of the Israelite Religious Community (IKG): “There is nothing comparable.”

The sports club Hakoah was founded in 1909. Following aryanization, the athletes fled the country; nonetheless, after the end of the NS terror, new life was breathed into the Hakoah in Vienna. The sports field was returned to the club, however, not until 2002. The basis for the return was the “Washington Agreement” which involved restitution for stolen assets under the Nazis.