Pröll Wishes to Further Jewish Tradition

For more than fifty-seven years the Baden Synagogue stands desolate and more and more in ruin at the center of the city known for its spas. Governor of the region Erwin Pröll claims it "an absolute disgrace". At the cost of some 2.9 million euros the synagogue is now to be renovated.

Baden — The sanctuary will be "modernized" says Thomas Schärf from the Jewish Synagogue Association in Baden and the architects will most likely refrain from restoring the scant traces of past embellishment, whether it be the Moorish-styled columns, the winding staircase or the remains of colourful frescos on the ceiling.

The frescos in particular are "expensive business", exclaimed Schärf, and the Jewish community in Baden remains small. Some mere two hundred members in entire Lower Austria were counted when interest was initially expressed to bring the synagogue back to life.

Now some fourteen years later that has all changed. Governor Erwin Pröll personally announced the agreement to finance the reconstruction. On Monday, the day before his ten-year celebration as Governor: "I believe it is of utmost significance to further Jewish tradition in Lower Austria in this form", he said in conversation with Der Standard.

"Needless to say, the Jewish people of Lower Austria are well known far beyond our regional borders: Theodor Herzl, Arnold Schönberg and Max Reinhardt, for example". Indeed it is "a disgrace" that the renovation of the Baden Synagogue has taken so long; in fact, some fifty-seven years after the end of the Nazi era.

Planned is a sanctuary on the first floor with "a multicultural center" on the floor above, added Schärf. The upper floor will also be rented –"the purpose of which has yet to be decided." Renovation will cost approximately 2.9 million euros – "judging from current-day costs a relatively high estimate when considering the estimate dates back to year 1988. Whereas the state of Lower Austria will contribute fifty percent, the city of Baden twenty-five percent and the Vienna Israelite Religious Community twenty-five percent.

These funds "will be raised in any case" claims the Governor. Should the costs exceed 750,000 euros by the year 2004 due to more expense than anticipated, "the state of Baden will contribute to make up the difference."