Your Selected Item:
Would you like to help us improving the content? Send us your suggestions

The Jewish Community of Innsbruck


City and capital of the State of Tyrol, Austria.

In the 13th century a Jew is mentioned as mintmaster to the duke of Tyrol. Subsequently, Jewish traders and moneylenders came to Innsbruck from Italy and Carinthia. In the first half of the 14th century the Jews left the city but returned soon after to replace bankrupt Florentine bankers. In 1342 the Jew Salmen of Innsbruck was granted protection by the duke.

During the Black Death persecutions (1348) the Jews of Innsbruck suffered but the community was not destroyed. In the 16th century Jews are often mentioned in Innsbruck as bankers and as agents of foreign trading houses. Despite the imperial edict expelling all Jews from the Tyrol in 1520, Jews remained in Innsbruck during this period. More settled in the city during the tolerant reign of duke Ferdinand II of the Tyrol (1618-1623), serving in the government and even gaining positions at court, in spite of recurrent protests by the municipality and guilds. A Jew was employed at court as flute player and dancing master.

Religious services were held in a private house. After the death of Ferdinand II, a ban was imposed on any Jewish newcomers settling in the city, and in 1674 the burghers achieved the long-sought expulsion of the Jews; only two families were permitted to remain. Nevertheless, some families expelled from Hohenems were allowed to settle in Innsbruck in 1676. More Jews arrived at the turn of the 18th century. In 1714 the city council asked the provincial governor's permission to expel Jews hitherto protected by the court because they endangered "the Christian character of the city". The expulsion order exempted two brothers who had donated a substantial sum to the city hospital.

When Maria Theresa confirmed Innsbruck as a "Jew-free city" (1748), only two "tolerated" families remained there and only eight in the whole of the Tyrol. By 1785 four or five Jewish families lived in the city. In the wake of the Tyrolean revolt against Bavarian-French rule led by Andreas Hhofer (1809), looting and other anti-Jewish acts occurred. After the Congress of Vienna (1815) the few additional rights which had been granted to the Jews by the Bavarians were restricted once more. No more Jews were allowed to settle permanently in the city and they could stay overnight only with police permission. Nevertheless, Jews from Hohenems managed to establish factories in Innsbruck during the 1840s. After the constitution of 1867 granted the Jews equal rights, Jewish families from all Habsburg countries settled in Innsbruck. However, the total number of Jews always remained small - 27 Jews (0.4% of the total population) in 1869. The city authorities put obstacles before Jewish newcomers
and the established Jewish settlers themselves did not favor an influx of "eastern Jews", fearing anti-Semitic reaction. In addition, since synagogue services were reform and other facilities needed to meet orthodox requirements were absent, orthodox Jews preferred not to come to Innsbruck.

From 1890 the Jews in Innsbruck officially belonged to the community and rabbinate of Hohenems, a branch of which was authorized in Innsbruck for the whole of the Tyrol in 1898.

A separate community was instituted in 1914, becoming the seat of the rabbinate for the Tyrol and Vorarlberg. The last rabbi of Hohenems, Dr. Link, became the first rabbi of Innsbruck. After World War I, Innsbruck developed into a center of Pan-German nationalistic movements and national- socialism gained a strong hold there at an early date, side by side with latent religious anti-Semitism. In the 1920s the community numbered about 200 members; in 1934, when there were 317 Jews (0.5%) in the city, ritual slaughter of animals was forbidden. The younger generation was attracted to Zionism, a movement strongly opposed by the assimilationist majority. In the 1930s Zionist representatives were elected to the community board.

After the Nazi seizure of power in Germany had increased anti-Semitism in the city, a silent boycott of Jewish firms began. The first steps of the Nazis in Innsbruck after the annexation of Austria (1938) were "aryanization" of all Jewish firms, confiscation of the community archives, and seizure of the passports of all Jews. The institutions of the community were able to continue their activities for a time but in the fall of 1938 the community was ordered to disband and the rabbinate was dissolved. The Jews prepared for emigration. On Pogrom Night (Nov. 9, 1938) the houses of all Jews still living in Innsbruck were raided and demolished, and the synagogue and the cemetery desecrated; 18 Jews were attacked and arrested and three community leaders brutally murdered.

Subsequently nearly all Jews left Innsbruck, some of them settling in the Land of Israel. After World War II a new community - the smallest in Austria, with 100 members - was established, and a synagogue dedicated in 1961. The community was headed by Oscar von Lubomirski, a converted Polish nobleman. In 1969, the community numbered around 50 members.

After the Holocaust only a few few Jews returned to Innsbruck, and Jewish community life developed very slowly. A new community for the region of Vorarlberg and Tirol was established on May 14, 1952. A prayer house was established in 1961.

The old synagogue in Sillgasse had suffered much damage during the war and was torn down in 1965. In 1981 the Israeli Ambassador to Austria placed a memorial tablet at the place where the synagogue had once stood and had now became a parking place. The new synagogue was built at the same place and was reopened on March 21, 1993. The offices of the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde fuer die Bundeslaender Tirol und Vorarlberg (The Jewish community organization) are housed there.

In 1995 the Jewish community decided that a Menorah would be a suitable memorial monument for the victims of the Holocaust. In 1997 the new monument was established in the center of the town. Holocaust survivors from all over the world were invited to this event.

In 2001 The Jewish community of Innsbruck had 60 members of different ages, ethnic background and occupations. The community maintains a cemetery in addition to the synagogue.

Place Type:
ID Number:
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
Nearby places:

Related items:
German workers turning the wheels of Jewish Capitalism,
Anti-Semitic caricature from "Der Schere",
Innsbruck, Austria, 1900.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Dr. Nahum Tim Gidal, Jerusalem)
Rimalt, Elimelekh (1907-1987), educator, rabbi, politician, born in Bochnia, Poland (then part of Austria-Hungary). He received a doctorate at the University of Vienna in 1931 and in 1932 was ordained rabbi at the Vienna Rabbinical Seminary. From 1933 to 1938 he was rabbi of Innsbruck, Austria, and other communities in the Tirol and Vorarlberg. For a year he directed the Emigration Department of the Vienna Jewish community and in 1939 moved to Ramat Gan in British Palestine.

In Israel he headed schools and directed the Ramat Gan Department of Education. In the Knesset from 1951, Rimalt sat until 1977 on behalf of the Liberal party. He served on various committees and from 1965 chaired the Education and Culture Committee of the Knesset.


Republik Österreich - Republic of Austria

A country in central Europe, member of the European Union (EU). 

21st Century

Estimated Jewish Population in 2018: 9,000 out of 9,000,000 (0.1%). Main umbrella organization of the Jewish communities:

Bundesverband der Israelitischen Kultusgemeinden Österreichs – IKG (Federation of Austrian Jewish Communities)
Phone: 43 1 531 04 0
Fax: 43 1 531 04 108 



The Jews of Austria

1244 | With Compound Interest

The tendency to view the Jews as a foreign implant practicing strange customs and lifestyles has often brought about discriminatory legislation and restrictions on their freedom of occupation. It was none other than Friedrich the Second Frederick II , Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (a political entity of the Middle Ages, based in Vienna) who understood the advantages of Jewish uniqueness, which manifested among other things in the fact that Judaism, unlike Christianity, permitted money lending. And so, in the year 1244, the Emperor bestowed upon the Jews of Austria a bill of rights, which encouraged them to practice money lending and gave them physical protection, the right to self-jurisdiction and the right to collect taxes within the community.

During this period some of the most important rabbis of Ashkenaz moved to Vienna. These rabbis, known as “The Wise Men Sages of Vienna” or “The Great Ones of Osterreich Oesterreich” (Austria,) built the largest beit midrash in Central Europe at the time in Vienna. Foremost among them was Rabbi Issac Ben Moses, whose guide to halacha (religious law), titled “Or Zarua” (“Planted Light Light Is Sown”) became one of the bedrock texts of the yeshiva world.

Frederick II Friedrich may have meant well, but in many ways he may have been responsible for the birth of the antisemiticanti-Semitic stereotype of the Jewish usurer. Today it is hard to determine whether that stereotype had any basis in reality, but documents from the time show that money lending and tax collection were very prevalent occupations among Austrian Jews, which could hardly have helped ease relations with the general Christian population.

1420 | King of the Jews

On July 6th 1415 the Czech revolutionary Jan Hus, considered one of the forerunners of the Reformation, was executed. His anti-Catholic ideas, among them viewing the Bible as the supreme source of authority and rejecting the polytheistic elements of Catholicism, were consistent with the core values of the Jewish religion, and therefore aroused suspicion that the Jews were collaborating with him. The equivalency drawn by Catholics between Hus and the Jews spread throughout Central Europe and reached its peak in Austria, which severely worsened its treatment of Jews.
In 1420 the Jewish community of Austria reached an unprecedented nadir when one of the leading figures of the city was accused of Host desecration desecrating the Eucharist. Some 200 Jews were burned at the stake as punishment. At that time Austria became one of the first countries in Central Europe to expel its Jews.
The luck of the Jews turned for the better in 1469, when Frederick III Friedrich the Third – whose kind treatment of the Jews gave him the nickname “King of the Jews” - ascended to the throne and annulled the expulsion edict against them.

1670 | From Bad to Worse

In the years 1564-1619, during the reigns of Maximilian II Maximilian the Second, Rudolph II the Second and Matthias, the influence of the Jesuits in Austria grew, and the condition of the Jews deteriorated. Even before that, during the reign of Ferdinand the First I, they were forced to pay heavy taxes, and to wear the sign of shame, the infamous yellow star which would inspire the Nazis some 300 hundred years later. But the low point was reached during the reign of Leopold the First I, under whom Jews were regularly persecuted and even expelled from Vienna in 1670 (although they gradually returned to it.)

Leopold's despicable treatment of the Jews did not stop him from using the services of Samson Wertheimer, one of the most famous “court Jews” in history, considered the richest man in Austria at the time. Wertheimer did all he could to help his Jewish brethren, and among other accomplishments prevented the expulsion of the Jews of Rothenberg and published the Babylonia Babylonian Talmud in Frankfurt.

1782 | The Apple Falls Far From the Tree

Following the partition of Poland and the annexation of Galicia to Austria, hundreds of thousands of Jews were added to the subjects of the Habsburg Empire. It should be noted that until the early 19th century, most Jews under Habsburg rule lived outside the territories of the modern Republic of Austria.
Maria Theresa, ruler of the empire, was ambivalent in her approach to the Jews. On one hand she availed herself of the financial skills of the richer ones among them to pad the royal treasury, and on the other she harbored a deep anti-Semitic hatred towards them, probably due to being a devout Catholic. So she granted titles and honors to those who were of use to her and whispered brilliant financial advice in her ears, and denied rights to all the rest, leaving them to persecution and daily outrages.

Her son and heir, Emperor Joseph the Second II, fell far from the tree. In 1782 Joseph issued his famous edict of tolerance Edict of Tolerance, which called for the integration of Jews into general society in accordance with the values of the age of enlightenment Age of Enlightenment. The edict abolished many restrictions that applied to the Jews, and permitted them to study at institutions of higher learning and to hire Christian servants. But the edict had some fine print as well: In return for the reforms, the Jews were required to blur their identity and reclusive tendencies. Among other thingsthings, they were forbidden to use Yiddish or Hebrew in official documents, their community authorities were restricted and the right to marry was only given to those who graduated from school. The edict was met with mixed emotions. The Jews realized that integration into general society was unavoidable, even if the price – blurring their identity and renouncing their faith – was not always to their liking.

1867 | Who's The Elitist?

While Joseph's “Edict of Tolerance” did indeed indicate a significant change in the treatment of Jews and enabled their integration into society, it mostly applied to those determined to be “tolerably Jewish” - and even those were not allowed to buy houses and were burdened with special taxes. At the same time the edict helped establish a cultural atmosphere that opened a broad window for Austrian the Jews of Austria onto the ideas of the enlightenmentEnlightenment. This caused a change in the hierarchical structure of the Jewish community. Between the 16th and 18th centuries, one of the tickets to the Austrian-Jewish elite was the mocking appellation “Court Jew” - but in the 19th century the Jewish elite consisted mostly of those who demonstrated impressive intellectual capacities, and not necessarily those who served high-placed masters.

During the 19th century intellectual life in Austria began to kick into high gear. Vienna became a center of Hebrew literature. Various magazines and periodicals, among them “Bikurei Haitim” and “Kerem Hemed” were published, and many intellectuals, including Naftali Herz Homberg, Shlomo Levisohn, Isidore Heller and Moritz Kuh made their mark on the cultural life of Austria.

The entry of Jews into the general Austrian sphere was coincident with the changes in their civic status. The demand for equality under the law came with the “Spring of Nations” revolution, some of whose leaders were Jews. While the authorities suppressed that revolution, a year later Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph gave public recognition to the “Israelite religious Religious congregationCongregation” in Vienna.
The full emancipation granted to the Jews in 1867 ended hundreds of years of discrimination and racism and marked the beginning of the great renaissance of Vienna's Jews.

1900 | The Viennese Circle

“That which cannot be spoken of must be passed over.” This quote by Jewish-Viennese philosopher and mathematician Ludwig Wittgenstein serves well to describe the initial reaction to one's learning of the annals of the Jews of Vienna from the moment they were granted full emancipation: silence; a loss of words; A mouth agape at the explosion of talent, genius and intellectual flare by a collection of Jewish figures the likes of which had never been seen, the sons and grandsons of vendors, shopkeepers and itinerant panhandlers. The Jews of Vienna took to the fruits of the emancipation like a people possessed.
The examples are too numerous to fully list. Political science researcher Friedrich Hertz, who composed Austria's constitution following WW1; Philosopher philosopher Karl Popper, who revolutionized scientific methodology; Ludwig Wittgenstein, Popper's rival and the author of “Philosophical Investigations”; The Jewish thinker Moritz Schlick, who founded the renowned “Viennese Circle” and many, many others.

The fields of art was one where the presence of Jews was felt most keenly. One of the greatest musicians of the early 20th century was Gustav Mahler, who despite his Jewish background was appointed to head the Vienna Royal Court Opera. In the field of literature one finds the Jewish writer Arthur Schnitzler, who in 1900 founded the “Young Vienna” literary circle. Schnitzler, who wrote openly about the struggle of Jews against anti-Semitic expressions, was joined by many Jewish writers, among the them Richard Beer-Hofmann and Felix Salten.

The Jews were no slouches in the field of theater either. Among the most famous practitioners were director, actor and producer Max Reinhardt (who fled the Nazi repression in 1938 and moved to Hollywood, where he directed a star-studded film version of Shakespeare's “Midsummer's Night Dream”), and Oscar Weller who founded a Jewish political satirical cabaret.

Vienna also became a center of Jewish national revival. It was there that Peretz Smolenskin published the Hebrew peridocalperiodical “Hashachar” and where Nathan Birnbaum, the man who coined the term “Zionism,” founded the first national Jewish student union, “Kedma”. All this on top of what was the main newspaper read by the liberal Vienneses Vieniesse bourgeoisie at the time, the Neue Freie Presse, many of whose writers were Jews.

The paper delivery boys of the “Neue” probably never imagined that two Jews, residents of one of the streets on their route, were destined to make an indelible mark on world history: The first was Binyamin Zeev (Theodore)Theodor (Benjamin Ze'ev) Herzl, who was also a senior correspondent for the newspaper, and another, one Sigmund Freud.

1938 | Renaissance, The End

The Jewish renaissance in the land of Mozart and Schubert came to an end in March 1938, with the annexation (Anschluss) of Austria by Nazi Germany. The numbers speak for themselves: Before the annexation there were 181,882 Jews living in Austria (mostly in Vienna). By 1942 only 2,000-5,000 remained on her soil. In fact, there are demographic experts who cite an even higher number, and claim that prior to the war there were as many as 200,000 Jews living in Austria. The disparity in numbers is likely due to the fact that the Nazis were more “open” in their answer to the question “Who is a Jew”. To them, a Jewish grandparent sufficed to assign one to the chosen people.

Most Austrian Jews of Austria took no chances on how the Nazis would define them. Between 1938-1941 two thirds of them emigrated, mostly to the United States, Britain, the Land of Israel and South America. The rest, some 70,000, perished in the Holocaust.

Following WW2 displaced persons camps were established in Austria and routes were opened for the “Bricha,” or “Escape” movement, which from 1944-1948 arranged the illegal immigration of some 300,000 Holocaust survivors to Israel. During the Cold War Vienna also served as a transit point for Soviet Jews who were allowed to emigrate to Israel or to the West.

Jewish Population in Vienna

Year Number of Jews Share of the population
1857 2,617 1.3%
1900 146,926 8.7%
1923 201,513 10.8%
1934 176,034 9.1%
1951 9,000 0.6%

2014 | A Mosaic of Identities

In 2014 Vienna – the largest Jewish center in Austria today – was home to 12-15,000 Jews, some 800 of these Holocaust survivors who lived there before the Anschluss, and some 1,500 immigrants from the former Soviet Bloc. Vienna features synagogues, a retirement home and a Jewish museum (opened in 1993), as well as various community institutions.

The Jewish community in Vienna is a mosaic of identities, from Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) to Reform Jews. In additionaddition, there is a small community of Georgian Jews in the city and one of Bukharan Jews. These operate separate synagogues and a large community center known as the “Sephardi Center”. The Jewish community in the city hold a rich array of activities organized by the Chabad movement, which operates kindergartens, schools, a community center and even a university in the city. There are also branches of the Bnei Akiva and Hashomer Hatzair youth movements.

The sons and daughters of the Jewish-Austrian community have found a place of honor in the political life of their republic. Among the most famous are Bruno Kreisky, who served as the highly popular Chancellor of Austria for 13 years, Elizabeth Pittermann, a Member of Parliament for the Social-Democratic Party, and Peter Sichrovsky, a former Member of Parliament for the Austrian Freedom Party.

One stain on Austrian political life is Kurt Waldheim, who despite his dubious past in the Nazi Wehrmacht, was elected as the (mostly ceremonial) President of Austria, serving one six-year term and declining to stand for re-election. Fascist Jorg Haider, infamous for his anti-Semitic statements, served as Governor of the State of Carinthia from 1999 until his death in 2008.


Jewish sources: Ems (עמס)

A town in the state of Vorarlberg, western Austria

Hohenems is located on the border with Switzerland.

The synagogue building, which had been used as a storage facility since 1953, became vacant in 2001. In 2004 the building was reopened as a cultural center and a school for music.

The Jewish Museum of Hohenems offers exhibitions about the history of the Jewish community of Hohenems and its destruction, as well as of Jewish life and culture in Europe more broadly, The museum's permanent exhibition is housed in the Heimann-Rosenthal Villa, the former home of an Jewish family of industrialists that was originally built in 1864.

The former Jewish quarter of Hohenems was given a preservation order in 1996. As a result, many of the buildings that once housed Jewish families and elements of Jewish life, including the synagogue, mikveh (ritual bath), school, and old age home, are still standing. The mikveh is used as part of the Jewish Museum of Hohenems, while the former school houses the Federmann Cultural Auditorium and the Restaurant Moritz.

The Jewish cemetery contains 370 gravestones that have remained standing. The cemetery can be accessed with permission from the museum.


A ducal charter released in 1617 gave the dozen or so Jewish families who had arrived at Hohenems after fleeing Burgau rights that were almost equal to those of their Christian neighbors. They were nonetheless required to pay a special annual tax of ten gulden and two well-fed geese. A Jewish community was founded in 1632, and a prayer hall was established in 1642, in the home of a wealthy local Jew.

By the middle of the 17th century the community had increased to approximately 30 families. However, the Jewish experience in Hohenems throughout the 17th and early 18th centuries was characterized by temporary expulsions, increased taxation, and restrictive legislation. In spite of these hardships, the Jewish community continued to grow, and by 1765 there were 227 Jews (10% of the total population) living in 24 houses. The Jewish population was concentrated in one street, and was a separate and independent community until the 19th century; at various points the community even had its own mayor. Since they were prohibited from doing business in the Vorarlberg Province, the Jews of Hohenems became successful merchants in Switzerland and Italy.

A chevra kaddisha was founded in 1760 and a synagogue was opened in 1772 under the leadership of Rabbi Lobs Ullmann. Another well-known rabbi who began his career in Hohenems was Rabbi Abraham Kohn. Rabbi Kohn eventually left the town for Lemberg, where he was murdered for his promotion of reforms similar to those occurring in the German-Jewish world.

An elementary school was founded in 1784; the community also had its own mikveh (ritual bath), kosher slaughterhouse, and boasted 22 charitable and cultural foundations.

Beginning in the middle of the 19th century many Jews from Hohenems emigrated to the United States; as a result, by 1860 the Jewish population was effectively halved from what it was at the beginning of the century. Contributing to the population decline was the Constitution of 1867, which allowed Jews to settle freely throughout Austria. The 455 Jews living in Hohenems in 1866 dropped to 221 in 1869, and 165 in 1878.

Notable figures from Hohenems include the Viennese cantor, Solomon Sulzer.


The synagogue was damaged in 1938 during the Kristallnacht pogrom. By 1939 only ten Jews remained living in Hohenems. The remaining Jews were deported to Vienna in 1940. From there they were sent to concentration and death camps.


The cemetery, which was originally consecrated in 1617, was maintained by the Jewish community of St. Gallen after the war. The synagogue building was given to the Jewish community of Innsbruck, as part of a postwar process of restitution. It was purchased by the Hohenems municipality in 1953 and turned into a storage house for firefighting equipment. A memorial plaque was erected in 1991 on the building's exterior signaling its former use as a synagogue.

A Jewish museum was opened in Hohenems in 1991.


A city and province in western Austria.

21st Century

Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Salzburg
Lasserstraße 8, 5020 Salzburg
Phone: 43 662 872228


Formerly archbishopric and duchy. The first mention of Jews in the archbishopric occurred as early as 803 in a letter from Archbishop Arno (798--821) asking for the settlement of a Jewish physician in his district. A customs list from 905 contains references to Jewish salt merchants, and the term Judendorf occurs in sources dating from 1074, 1107, and 1197. The first clear reference to Jewish settlement occurred, however, during the tenure of Archbishop Conrad i (1106--47), who utilized Jews as financial advisers. A Judenstrasse in the market town of Admont is mentioned in a source dating from 1124. The oldest gravestone in the archbishopric, dating from 1240, was discovered in Friesach; 13th-century settlements were noted in Muehldorf, Hallein, and Pettau (Ptuj). The first references to Jews in the city of Salzburg itself dates from 1282. In 1267 the district council prescribed for Jewish males the wearing of a horn-shaped hat (Cornutus Pileus), and forbade their visiting Christian baths and employing Christian domestics.

Jews functioned as moneylenders in the city of Salzburg, including among their customers members of the city administration; in 1285 a Jewish banker, Isaac, is noted among those who lent money to the treasury of the archbishop. Sources early in the 14th century indicate widespread Jewish commercial ventures with the investment of considerable capital. In the city a Jewish gate, Judenstrasse, and synagogue date from the period. During the course of the Black Death persecutions of 1349, 1,200 Jews in the archbishopric lost their lives, despite two unsuccessful efforts on the part of Pope Clement IV to intervene. Although the city councils prohibited the return of converted Jews to the faith they abandoned during the persecutions, Jews are found again in the archbishopric in 1352. Their return was facilitated by the liberality of Archbishop Ortolph (1344--65). Jews began to appear in large numbers in the city of Salzburg only in the 1370s, partly as a result of the bold economic policies of Archbishop Pilgrim II (1365--1396). In 1377 a new place for worship was leased to the community to replace the one formerly used (in 1400 it was bought by three Jewish representatives of the community), and in the same year a cemetery was consecrated. Beginning in 1382 the archbishop began to call Jews to military service. The archbishopric in this period served as a sanctuary for Jews fleeing persecution elsewhere; in 1397, for example, a severe persecution of Jews in Styria and Carinthia brought a considerable number of refugees into Salzburg. A Salzburg scholar named Judah wrote a code on shechitah in this period. Despite the liberality of Salzburg's administration, however, an accusation of desecrating the host (1404) was directed against the Jews of Hallein and Salzburg. In Salzburg many Jews were burned at the stake; the rest were driven out of the city and their property confiscated. By 1418 a relatively large number of Jews had once more settled in the city. In the same year the provincial council extended its regulation on the wearing of a distinctive hat for Jewish males to Jewish women as well, ordering that bells also be attached to their garments. From 1429 Archbishop John II followed a particularly enlightened policy toward the Jews, inviting Jewish refugees from Speyer, Zurich, Mainz, and Augsburg. Jews were given considerable freedom, e.g., they were allowed to acquire houses and other real estate. In 1439 a new synagogue was constructed in the city; in 1448 a mikveh was built in Hallein, where a synagogue also was in existence. In 1498 Jews were, however, accused of having stolen a sacred object of the church; as a result, the synagogues of both Hallein and Salzburg were destroyed and the Jews were banished in perpetuity from the archbishopric. At that same time, a wooden image of a sow with Jewish children nursing from it was set up in the town hall. Later reproduced in marble, the figures were not removed until 1785.

Jewish traveling merchants traded in Salzburg during the 17th and 18th centuries. The leibzoll was repealed in 1790 and two court Jews were established in Salzburg by 1800. Nevertheless, until 1867 there was no permanent Jewish settlement in what had been the Austrian Duchy of Salzburg for 350 years; in 1867 full equality was granted to the Jews. By 1869 there were 42 Jews in Salzburg, and by 1882 there were 115. In the 1890s an organization was set up to coordinate the religious and cultural needs of the Jews living in the duchy. In 1893 a new synagogue was dedicated in Salzburg and a chevra kaddisha was formed. For a while, Theodor Herzl practiced law in Salzburg, leaving the city in 1884. In 1894 a cemetery was consecrated in Aigen.

Dr. Adolf Altman, who as a religious Zionist exerted influence upon the Zionist movement, presided over the Salzburg community from 1907 until 1914, and again as provisional rabbi from 1918 until 1920, when he was called upon to serve as Chief Rabbi of Trier. Dr. Altman was an outstanding figure who took an active role in numerous cultural projects. He also authored a two-volume “Geschichte der Juden in Stadt und Land Salzburg, von den frühesten Zeiten bis zur Gegenwart” (History of the Jews in the town and province of Salzburg from the earliest times until the present). He was succeeded as Salzburg rabbi by Julius Augapfel, who was in turn succeeded by David Samuel Margules. Rabbi Margules served the community until its destruction in 1938.

A local branch of the Regional Zionist Association was founded in Salzburg in 1926. Jewish clubs and associations in the town included a branch of the Women’s International Zionist Organization and a B’nai B’rith Chapter, as well as other cultural, social and charitable groups.

On March 12, 1938, Jewish residents of Salzburg were arrested, and Nazi cells in the town began to confiscate Jewish property. Non-Austrian Jews were immediately expelled. On April 30, 1938, the Hitler Youth publicly burned 1,200 Jewish books in the town square. Despite all this, most Salzburg Jews began planning to emigrate only after the pogrom of November 9/10, 1938. That night, between 30 and 50 rioters, almost all whom were SA members, destroyed the Salzburg synagogue. Seven Jewish shops which had not yet been confiscated were demolished. Between 60 and 70 Jewish males were arrested and sent to Vienna and from there to the Dachau concentration camp. In early 1939, the remains of the synagogue and the Jewish cemetery were handed over to the SS. During the Second World War, the synagogue was desecrated and used as a warehouse.

Several members of established families returned to Salzburg after the Holocaust. Salzburg became a temporary home for thousands of DPs (Displaced Persons) from Eastern Europe; several of them chose to stay there. Salzburg was also a main stop on the way to Italy for Jewish refugees who tried to get to Palestine with the Bricha movement. A temporary prayer house was established in 1945; the first holiday that was celebrated there was Rosh Hashana with the participation of 200 people. In 1946 there were 20,000 refugees around Salzburg.

A new community was established in Salzburg on May 7, 1953. The synagogue was rebuilt only in 1967/68. In 1993 Holocaust survivors from Salzburg were invited to visit the city from which they had escaped. In 2001 the community celebrated 100 years since the establishment of the city’s old synagogue.

In 2001 there were approximately 60 Jews living in Salzburg. The community maintains a cemetery, in addition to the synagogue. In Salzburg there operates a cultural center – Juedisches Kulturzentrum Salzburg. The community organizes meetings, lectures on an array of subjects including Israel related topics as well as Jewish holidays


This entry contains materials originally published on Beit Ashkenaz - Austrian Synagogues and Communities website and contributed to the Database of the Museum of the Jewish People courtesy of Beit Ashkenaz.


A town in Vorarlberg region, Austria.

Jews lived in Feldkirch in the first half of the 14th century in a place occupied today by the district of Heiligenkreuz outside the city walls. A lawsuit from 1343 between Count Albrecht I von Werdenberg, ruler of Bludenz, and Count Ulrich I of Montfort, ruler of Feldkirch, dealt with seven Jewish families who moved from Feldkirch to Bludenz, and it was decided that they belonged to the count of Montfort. It is unknown whether the families returned to Feldkirch.

In 1349, during the plague, the Jews of Feldkirch were accused of poisoning wells and were burnt at the stake. In 1443 the Jews of Feldkirch and Konstanz were arrested due to a blood libel; the Jews of Konstanz were released after five years, but the fate of the Jews of Feldkirch is unknown.

During the Thirty Year War, Count Kaspar of Hohenems, the owner of Feldkirch, allowed Jewish residents to settle on his domains. By 1635 there were about 20 Jewish families in Feldkirch. The residents of Feldkirch opposed any permanent settlement of Jews, mainly out of fear of competition in trade and industry. By around 1640 all Jews had left Feldkirch and found refuge in nearby Eschen and Mauren. Later in the 17th century there were business contacts between the Christian population of Feldkirch and the two neighboring Jewish communities in Rheineck and Hohenems, particularly there was a modest trade in agricultural products and livestock

During the first decades of the 20th century, very few Jews lived in Feldkirch. In 1880 there were 5 Jews living in the town, in 1910 their number increased to seven. No anti-Semitic agitation took place in Feldkirch during the years between the two world wars. Even if there were only a few Jews in Feldkirch, the overwhelming majority of Vorarlberg Jews regarded the city of Feldkirch as their central location. Most of the Jews in the district of Feldkirch lived in Hohenems. At the time of the Anschluss - the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in March 1938, there were no more Jews living in Feldkirch.

After 1945 only a few Eastern European Jewish DPs made it to Feldkirch.


A town and seat of the Lienz district in the State of Tyrol, Austria.

Jewish families owned two houses in the town. Isak von Lienz was the private banker of the Counts of Goerz, and the most prominent Jewish banker of the East-Alpine region at the beginning of the 14th century. He was a moneylender and a leaseholder of mint and toll.

In 1443 the Jews were accused of the murder of the little girl Ursula Poeck who was found dead in a river. Two male Jews were hanged together with a dog, symbolizing their despised status, and two Jewish women burned at the stake. Five children were spared death and were baptized. In 1472 a Jew, who came to Lienz disguised by a Christian name, was expelled from the town.