About Bernhard Wachstein
Submitted by Renee Steinig
Bernhard Wachstein (1868-1935), the Viennese genealogist, librarian, historian, and bibliographer, was born in Tłuste (Tolstoye/4850). Educated at a Vienna rabbinical seminary and then at the University of Vienna, Wachstein became librarian of the Vienna community in 1903. He later became the director of the library, which he nurtured and organized into one of the best in Europe. His marriage to a wealthy woman allowed him to devote his life to scholarship, which included works on such Jewish personalities as Karl Marx, Spinoza, and Moses Mendelssohn, and bibliographies of Judaic literature and correspondence. Wachstein is best known for his scholarly study of tombstone inscriptions at Vienna's oldest Jewish cemetery, at #9 Seegasse. Die inschriften des alten Judenfriedhofes in Wien, published between 1912 and 1917, included a plan and description of each stone. The cemetery, desecrated during World War II, was partially restored with the help of the meticulous details in Wachstein's study. Wachstein also published the gravestone inscriptions in the old Jewish cemetery in Eisenstadt, Austria.
Dr. Bernhard Wachstein (1868-1935)
Dr. Wachstein was a historian, bibliographer, and genealogist. Born in Galicia, he was educated at the Vienna rabbinical seminary and at the University of Vienna. He became the librarian of the Vienna Jewish Community, and made the library the richest in Europe. His two-volume masterwork, Die Inschriften des Alten Judenfriedhofs in Wien (The Inscriptions of the Old Jewish Cemetery in Vienna) (Vienna, 1912-1917), is a scholarly study of the gravestones of the Viennese Jewish community dating from 1540 to 1783. In 1922, he published Die Grabschriften des Alten Judenfriedhofs in Eisenstadt (The Gravestone Inscriptions of the Old Jewish Cemetery in Eisenstadt). He wrote a number of monographs on Moravian communities. Among his genealogies of Jewish personalities was that of Karl Marx, which revealed his rabbinic descent and caused much excitement.
The authentic gravestone inscriptions and the frequent genealogical notes make his works very useful in confirming identities or death dates -- particularly in cases of conflicting data.
Bernhard Wachstein grave in Vienna.
Photo courtesy of Celia Male
Translation of the tombstone's inscription:
Died 11 Shevat 5695
Dov Ber, son of Moshe Wachstein,
Director of the Library of the Jewish Community in Vienna.
May his soul rest in peace.
He solved mysteries of days bygone
and uncovered traces of generations vanished
19 January 1868 - 15 January 1935
XI. Simmeringer Hauptstrasse 244, Vienna
Gate 4, Group 3, Row: 4, Grave: 9