Kittsee

Earliest record of community: 1663
Last rabbi: Mordechai Friedmann/Armin Zwi Perls
Community members: 1735 - 266; 1821 - 789; 1880 - 111; 1930 - 58; 1934 - 62
After 1945: Demolished in 1950
Summary: The town of Kittsee, referred to in Jewish sources as “Kitse,” was home to the northernmost Jewish community of the Burgenland province (in today’s Austria).

Jews established a cemetery and a synagogue in Kittsee in the 17th century. In 1716, the community became one of the Sheva Kehillot (the Seven Holy Communities renowned for strictly orthodox observance). A beth din (rabbinical court), chaired by Rabbi Meir ben Isaak Eisenstadt, the renowned Maharam Asch, was established in 1728. Moshe Eliezer, who was also head of Kittsee’s yeshiva (a school for young men’s religious studies), and Zvi Hirsch Broda served as rabbis in Kittsee.

Records from 1735 put the town’s Jewish population at 155 adults and 111 children. By 1821 there were 789 Jewish inhabitants. Community numbers then went into decline as many Jews moved away to larger towns. In 1880 there were 111 Jews in total.

In 1885 the Jewish community of Gattendorf was affiliated with that of Kittsee. The Jews living in Edelstal were also members of the official Kittsee congregation.

By 1934, one year after Hitler had come to power in Germany, Kittsee’s Jews numbered just 62.  

In April 1938, the month after Hitler’s annexation of Austria to the Third Reich, SA men seized 51 Jews from Kittsee and the village of Kroatisch-Jahrndorf on the first day of the Passover holiday. These Jews had their possessions confiscated, and were then taken by motorboat to the middle of the Danube river, where they were abandoned on a sand island. Soldiers stationed at the Czech border eventually rescued the Jews, who were then ferried about; first to Pressburg, then to Hungary, and finally back to Austria, where they were imprisoned by the SA.

The Kittsee synagogue was demolished in 1950.