Exhibit on Jewish Life in Burgenland

"Devastated Jewish Communities in Burgenland – Searching for Traces" is the title of an exhibit which opens November 4, 2002 in the Cultural Center in Mattersburg. The exhibit documents the development of former Jewish communities in Burgenland, traces of which are still visible today. The exhibit, originally conceived in 1993, has been revised and newly adapted by students of the Institute of Folklore at the University of Vienna.

Before the National Socialist terror, Burgenland had an extensive Jewish culture. In wishing to discover and preserve that memory, the students conducted a type of search for traces of the past at the location itself. The results were sobering: former Jewish cemeteries were left to disintegrate One of the synagogues was used as a shed for agricultural equipment. Only rarely did a commemorative stone remind one of its original purpose.

The first documented reference of Jewish resident in Burgenland goes back to the 13th century. The rise of permanent Jewish communities in the region of today’s Burgenland appeared initially in the 17th century. The deportation of Jews from Vienna, Lower Austria and Styria were resettled on the estates of the Esterházys and the Batthyánys. The greatest population in these areas within Burgenland was found to be in the middle of the 19th century with over 8,000 registered Jews.

One person commented on the topic remarking that "the last time I was there I was given the key, however, already while unlocking the door to the cemetery, I was hindered by branches, grass and other undergrowth, making it impossible for me to climb over. I hope now that the cemetery can be accessed without difficulty. Another visitor to the exhibit claimed that "one should try to organize readings, evenings with Jewish music, a Pessach party or a theatre piece to open the eyes of the young people and adults. Lectures, discussion and a day of study would also help to rediscover our national past."