DESTROYED JEWISH COMMUNITY: GATTENDORF

 

The Jewish community of GATTENDORF (1885 associated with Kittsee)

Development

There is a high probability that the Jewish community of Gattendorf was established during the period of the kuruc uprisings (1704-1709) or shortly after (but no later than 1712). The majority of the new Jewish residents came probably from Preßburg (Bratislava). The first traces of Jews in Gattendorf are from 1720. In 1764, 18 Jewish families lived in the former 'Schloßberg'-manorial farm ('Schloßberg'-Meierhof) (In addition to the castle and the manorial farm of the Esterházy family, there was also the castle and the manorial farm of the Schloßberg family), who had to pay protection money to the Esterházy manor.
Gattendorf was solely the municipality of the Counts of Esterházy, but other manorial families also acquired some parts of the village.
According to the statistical data of the Hungarian Central Statistical Office, 171 Jews lived in Gattendorf in 1836. Soon afterwards, the Jewish share of the population had started to decline continuously. Because of the extensive emigration, sometimes it must have been very difficult to get the ten men required for the service. Only 62 Jews lived in Gattendorf in 1880 and, by1934, the number of Jewish residents had dropped to 19 persons.

In 1885, the Jewish community of Gattendorf joined the larger Jewish community of Kittsee.

Jewish Life

The Jewish residents lived on rural retail trade and the trade with agricultural products and commodities. Jewish craftsmen were also residents of Kittsee, for example, carpenters, distillers, locksmiths, shoemakers, tailors, and furriers. They occupied small flatlets in the so-called 'Schloßberg Jew Courtyard' ('Schloßbergschen Judenhof') which consisted in most cases only of one chamber. The flat of the kosher butcher and the meat market (Fleischbank, an old word for meat market) were also situated in the former 'Schloßberg'-manorial farm ('Schloßberg'-Meierhof).

In addition to the synagogue and the burial ground, in the years 1860-1862, a school and in 1882 a bathhouse (mikva) for ritual immersion was built in Gattendorf.
In 1927, the synagogue was already in a desolate condition.

“The wooden fence, which disunites the front yard from the road, is multiply broken and, the brickwork strongly crumbled. Inside, there is an otherwise friendly and dignified room, in which centre is a beautiful almemar ('bima' in Hebrew, the elevated area from where the Torah is read aloud), but above, a ceiling arches instead of a dome. The ceiling has been carpentered provisionally out of rough boards and has to replace the former ceiling, which is at risk to fall down, within a year. . . .”

Source: Moses Leopold, Jüdische Gemeinden, in: Die Wahrheit. Unabhängige Zeitschrift für jüdische Interessen, XLI-II. Jg., Nr. 9, Wien, 25. Februar 1927, S. 4.

Return migration after 1945: None

Traces which are still visible today:

Synagogue

The synagogue stood in the courtyard of the 'Schloßberg'-manorial farm ('Schloßberg'-Meierhof), it was constructed from stone respectively bricks and covered with shingles. It was renovated in 1806. A ritual bathhouse was attached to the synagogue. In the second half of the 19th century a new synagogue was constructed on the same place.
Until 1996, the derelict synagogue, which survived the Nazi era in a desolate status, reminded one of the pre-World War II Jewish life. The building was privately owned and was used as a barn. Later, it became dilapidated.

Burial ground

The burial ground with an area of 2,733m² lies outside of Gattendorf. Since the middle of the 19th century it also served as a burial site for the population of the surrounding villages of Nickelsdorf und Neudörfl.

All Pictures: Alfred Lang (1993)

by Johannes Scholem Graf

2010.09.01