DESTROYED JEWISH COMMUNITY: Frauenkirchen

Development

In the second half of the 17th century Hussars attacked and pillaged the Jewish Community, then living in Mönchhof in the Cistercian Abbey of Heiligenkreuz. The abbot of the monastery ordered the expulsion of the Jews out of Mönchhof “to avoid further inconvenience” (Prickler). Paul Esterházy allowed them to settle down in the neighboring market town of Frauenkirchen. The Jewish municipality of Frauenkirchen was first mentioned in a document of 1696, a canonical visitation estimates the members, including children, of being more than 100.#

In 1876 the Jewish municipality reaches its numerical peak of 864 Jews. In the following the number progressively declined. In 1900 they counted 480 and in 1934 actually only 386 Jews living in Frauenkirchen.

Jewish Life

The resettled Jews were allowed to stay at the edge of the village. In the conscription list of 1725 the “Juden Gasse” (Street of the Jews) and the “Schaflerhof” (Schafler courtyard) which was located on the present-day’s main street #2-12 are mentioned. “1778 the Jews of Frauenkirchen together with their mastery laid down the regulations concerning barriers to the access roads of the Jewish quarter to maintain the Sabbath-rest in the so-called “Schrankenbaum-Contract.” (Lichtenberger, Gmasz)

The Jewish Community was in possession of a synagogue, a mikvah, a cemetery and a school. During the interwar times the Jewish community of Frauenkirchen developed a flourishing social life. In”Burgenland’s address book” of 1928 the following clubs and associations are mentioned: “ A local and youth group of the ‘Agudas Jisroel’ association, an Israeli women society and a funeral brotherhood called ‘Chewra Kadischa’……Under the supervision of ‘Agudas Kisroel’ even a strictly kosher restaurant had been established under the management of Theodor Weiss.” (Lichtenberger)

“When I close my eyes while standing at the crossroad Franziskanerstraße/Hauptstraße (Franciscan street/ main street), I can imagine quite vividly the former Jewish quarter, the same way like the old inhabitants – Jews and Christ – have kept it in mind. Right at the corner stood Baumaterialiengeschäft Fried, a store for construction material, the ‘Fried-Jud’. The spacious yard was the most popular playground among the children. Further down at the main street one could find the grocery store Rechnitzer, the ‘Rechnitzer-Jud’, the general store Levin*, the hardware store Fischer, where the farmers sometimes got a horse blanket for free when they made a larger purchase, draper Deutsch and the café of Dori Weisz, called the ‘Judencafé’ (café of the Jews) where besides the local paper the ‘Neue Freie Presse’ was available.”

Source: Coudenhove-Kalergi Barbara, Paul Rosenfeld. Einer kam zurück, in: Süddeutsche Zeitung vom 14./15.6.1986 (Wochenendbeilage), S.III, aus: Reiss Johannes (Hrsg.), Aus den Sieben-Gemeinden. Ein Lesebuch über Juden im Burgenland, Eisenstadt 1997.

1938

After the ‘Anschluss’ the Gestapo was active also in Frauenkirchen. Men, women, children and elderly people were jammed into a stable, where they had to remain in a standing position from morning till evening without any nutrition while being beaten brutally. They had to submit their personal data and details about their property. “Dr. Weis, who had to fill in for the present local administrative board officer, an elderly and ailing merchant, had to give a written assurance that the entire community would emigrate. Jewish stores were closed and sealed but police and followers burglarized and mugged them.” (Rosenkranz)

On March 26th 1938 ten Jewish families were the first to be expelled from Frauenkirchen. “Among the refugees were complete families including father, son, grandson between 10 months and 73 years. They were doctors, wholesale merchants, land owners as well as private civil servants. All of them were born in Frauenkirchen and can give evidence of their heritage up to 5-6 generations. They reported how some of the non-jewish residents cried with them and how they beseeched the Gestapo to let them stay with exclusion of a small part of the mob.” (Rosenkranz)

They were wandering homeless for days across the Czechoslovak and Hungarian borderland. Others were „driven into the barbed wire by the SS. “ (Rosenkranz)

A few of them obtained an emigration certificate to Palestine or were able to get illegally to Yugoslavia or into Czechoslovakia. Some of the families were brought to Vienna. Their property became pillaged and all houses were taken over by the municipality of Frauenkirchen and for the most part sold to private individuals. The Jews had to sign under pressure a quitclaim deed.

A provisional internment camp was established in Frauenkirchen in March 1938 where Jews of the Seewinkel (about 400 Jews from Frauenkirchen, Andau, Apetlon, Gols, Illmitz, Neusiedl/See, Pamhagen, Tadten and Wallern) were brought into. On April 16th most of these Jews were deported over the Hungarian border by the Nazis. On May 17th already 127 people have left Frauenkirchen, on August 13th 1938, according to a report of the gendarmerie (rural police), only “three Jewish families” remained in Frauenkirchen.

 

Returned after 1945:

Paul Rosenfeld. He rebuilt the crop store of his father after WWII.

Traces that are still visible today:

Fenced place on the former area of the synagogue
Cemetery including a “caretaker’s house”

Synagogue

The Jews held their prayers at first in a “room in the Mayrhouse”. In the conscription list of 1725 a synagogue is mentioned which was destroyed by fire in 1778. In 1840 the Synagogue was destroyed again and rebuilt as a two-storey building in 1842.

In 1939 the Synagogue was ultimately destroyed and quickly removed.

Cemetery

The Jewish cemetery of Frauenkirchen is situated at the edge of the village towards St. Andrä. The elderly part could not be enlarged for a long time because neighboring residents refused to sell a property to Jews. The cemetery had to be heaped up several times and is supposed to be built out of three layers.

Crossing two gates a visitor first attends a caretaker’s house and only afterward the cemetery.

by Johannes Scholem Graf

2010.09.30