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Jewish Communities of Burgenland

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BURGENLAND

is one of the federal states of Austria, on the Hungarian border. Located in Burgenland were the "Seven Communities" (Sheva Kehillot or Sieben Gemeinden), noted for their outstanding yeshivot and eminent rabbis:

  • Eisenstadt (Hung. Kismarton; Heb. א״ש)
  • Mattersburg/ Mattersdorf (Hung. Nagymarton)
  • Deutschkreutz (Hung. Sopronkeresztúr, Németkeresztúr; Hebr. צעלם, צלם)
  • Frauenkirchen (Hung. Boldogasszonyfalva; Heb. abbr. פ״ק)
  • Kittsee (Hung. Köpcsény; Heb. קיצע)
  • Kobersdorf (Hung. Kabold; Heb. ק״ד)
  • Lackenbach (Hung. Lakompak; Heb. ל״ב)

Under Hungarian administration, the community of Sopron (Oedenburg) was closely connected with the Seven Communities.

HISTORY

According to legend there was a Jewish settlement in the region in the eighth century, but the first documentary record of the Jews of Eisenstadt is from the year 1296. Jews are also mentioned in the Eisenstadt city privileges from 1373. From 1491, when the region was under the administration of Lower Austria, the communities of Burgenland were ruled by local lords, who treated them well. In 1496 Emperor Maximilian I resettled in the area Jews expelled from Styria. In 1529 Ferdinand I renewed the Jewish privileges for Eisenstadt, Mattersdorf (Mattersburg), and Kobersdorf. The Burgenland communities began to flourish when between 1622 and 1626 they came under the protection of the counts Esterházy. From 1647 the region was administratively a part of Hungary within the framework of the Habsburg monarchy. At the time of the expulsion of the Jews from Lower Austria in 1670–71, the communities of Eisenstadt, Kobersdorf, and Mattersburg were also forced to leave, but these communities were transferred by the Esterházys to other localities in their territories and were soon able to return. Around 1700, 12 Jewish communities were situated in Burgenland.

The charter granted by the Esterházys in 1690 to the Eisenstadt community, which guaranteed them autonomy and protection in time of war, was extended later to all the seven communities, and formed the basis of their considerable measure of self-administration. In 1840 the Hungarian parliament (Reichstag) authorized free choice of settlement and profession for Jews. As a result of changes following the 1848 revolution in Austria-Hungary, all the communities except those of Eisenstadt and Mattersdorf lost their autonomy. Many Jews left Burgenland, mainly for Vienna. Around 1850 the Jewish population in Burgenland was 8,487 persons, in some communities over 50% of the population. At the end of the 19th century the communities diminished in importance. After World War I and the collapse of Austria-Hungary Burgenland became part of the new Austrian republic (1921).The Jewish population in Burgenland numbered 3,800 in 1938.

Immediately after the Anschluss, the Jews were driven out; 1,900 had been expelled or had emigrated by February 1938, and 1,510 were removed, entirely destitute, to Vienna. Ten places, including Eisenstadt, were declared "free of Jews" (Judenrein). Nearly all the synagogues in Burgenland were destroyed on November 10, 1938 (Kristallnacht), the others at a later date. At least 30% of the Jewish population of Burgenland was killed in concentration camps.

After 1945 and into the 21st century there were no organized Jewish communities in Burgenland; the cemeteries were cared for by the Vienna community's Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien (Kobersdorf, Lackenbach) or the individual communities (Deutschkreutz, Eisenstadt, Kittsee, Mattersburg, Frauenkirchen). The Verein Schalom association helped to rebuild and care for the cemeteries. Many of the relics of the communities were preserved in the special department of the Burgenlaendisches Landesmuseum in Eisenstadt, and the Juedisches Zentralarchiv des Burgenlandes, which is part of the Burgenlaendisches Landesarchivs.

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0004_0_03744.html