Kobersdorf (Kabold in Hungarian) is a town in Eastern Austria in the Burgenland region. Kobersdorf, like the other towns of Burgenland, belonged to the Kingdom of Hungary until 1920-21.
After the end of the First World War, the western border area of Hungary was awarded to Austria by the Treaties of St. Germain and Trianon. Since 1921, the town has belonged to the newly founded State of Burgenland. Kobersdorf was one of the שֶבַע קְהִלּוֹת - Sheva Kehillot - Seven Communities, in the Burgenland region. Its synagogue, built in 1860, is the only one in the seven communities that still stands. Since its restoration, it has been used for memorial services.
- The Jewish community in Kobersdorf was established in 1526-1527.
- In the 16th century Kobersdorf was a fully developed community with a synagogue, cemetery, a "Shochet" (Jewish ritual butcher), a "Chazan" (who leads the prayer in the synagogue) and a community court of law.
- By the year 1569, there were eighteen families living in seven houses.
- In 1671 the Jewish community was dissolved due to a ‘banishment decree’ from Leopold I, however soon after, the Jews were allowed to return to Kobersdorf, as ‘protected Jews of the Esterházys’.
- The 20th century saw a new decline in Kobersdorf’s Jewish population; in 1910 there were 256 Jews and in 1935 only 172 remained.
The Jewish citizens of Kobersdorf were fully integrated in the fields of art and culture, as well as sports. We find representatives of the Kobersdorfer Jews in many images and documents of the theater society, music groups, the sports club and town festivals. The Jews who fell in World War I are noted at the war memorial, just as the athletes and officials are listed in the various memorial publications. The sports club dedicated the following obituary to them: ‘We want to commemorate our dear athletes and officials, who stayed out there in foreign soil or perished in concentration camps'.
(Sources: Hausensteiner Margarethe, Kobersdorf. Ein Ort in seiner Geschichte, Tradition und Entwicklung, Kobersdorf o.J.)
The Final Chapter
There is very little information available on the fate of the Jews of Kobersdorf after the Anschluss in 1938.
- They were expelled as were all the other Jews of the neighboring towns of Burgenland. 87 of the 95 Members of the Kobersdorf community fled to Vienna.
- From there, with help from the Israeli cultural community, they tried to escape abroad.
- There are 166 names of Jews victims that either lived or were born in Kobersdorf - in Yad Vashem's Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names.
Kobersdorf's synagogue, though in poor condition, remains present in the town. Thus far only the most essential structural operations have been carried out to save the synagogue from total collapse.
The 5.690m² Kobersdorf Jewish cemetery, established in the mid-19th century, is the only forest cemetery in Burgenland.
- Until 1938 it consisted of 1,200 graves.
- In 1949 the cemetery was handed over to the Israeli Cultural Community.
- Today there are still hundreds of gravestones in the cemetery, only a few minutes away from the synagogue.
Testimony of Shlomo Heker Givon, born in Kobersdorf.