Prammer Makes Plans to Restore the Jewish Cemetery in Waehring

Austrian Press Agency (APA) (13/07/2007)

Vienna – Saving Vienna’s Jewish Cemetery in Waehring appears to be moving closer to the day when it becomes reality. President of National Council Barbara Prammer said on the occasion of a visit to Israel that the board of trustees of the National Fund, responsible for NS restitution, will pave the way for the preliminary stage of the project this coming October.

“To me it is fully clear that the Waehring Cemetery has priority, that something fundamental has to be done,” said Prammer, who also heads the board of trustees. She confirmed that the Federation will have to take a lot of the funding into its own hand: Fourteen million Euro for restoration is a realistic amount, she said, and special financing is also necessary. The entire project should take at least six, perhaps even ten years, according to experts.

The first step involves, however, a preliminary stage which will take two years or more and will amount to about 200,000 euro at the cost of the National Fund. There are already preliminary studies being done, such as that undertaken by the historian, Tina Walzer, but now also the Federal Office for the Preservation of Historical Monuments will have its restorers  submit an appraisal. The City of Vienna’s Office for Gardens and Parks will deal with the problem of the tree population, which is getting out of hand. Work involving initial restoration will run alongside the other projects.

“I don’t want to have to wait patiently. I want the investigations to begin now. In the foreseeable future – two to three years – a complete project proposal can then be entrusted to the Federal government so that fundamental restoration can be carried out,” said Prammer. At the same time, financing should also be secured: “I assume that then the work can be smoothly carried out.”

Vienna will also have to meet its obligations, particularly concerning the work on the garden area as well as maintenance and supervision after restoration has been completed, explained the President of the National Council. Currently this is continually being taken care. Regarding the recent clearing of the area by members of the U.S. Embassy, including also the Marines, Prammer appeared “puzzled.” No matter who gives the orders, “I consider that to have been basically unnecessary.”

The struggle over restoring of the Jewish Cemetery Waehring, which belongs today to the district, Döbling, has been going on for a year. Until now very little has to be done, and the enclosed area in use from 1784 until 1879 is increasingly threatened by decay. Responsible for the restoring and maintaining of Jewish cemeteries in Austria is the Federation, according to the 2001 Washington Agreement. Vienna’s Community Council demanded unanimously in March that it should fulfill its duties of maintaining the cemetery. Thereupon, Prammer promised to make the cemetery the “burning issue and main focus of our attention.”