Mistelbach

Synagogue built in: 1895
Earliest record of community: 1880
Last rabbi: Dr. Israel Taglicht
Community members: 1890 - 81; 1900 - 140; 1934 - 94; March 1938 - 70
Pogrom Night: Expropriated and transformed into a camp for forced laborer
After 1945: 1952 to Jewish community of Vienna; sold in 1973
Today: 1976 demolished; today apartment building
Summary: A settlement of Jews existed in Mistelbach in the 14th century. These Jews suffered violent antisemitic persecutions which originated in the town of Pulkau and spread throughout Lower Austria. It is assumed that after this pogrom, a Jewish community did not re-form in Mistelbach until the mid-19th century.

In 1890, Mistelbach had a Jewish community large enough to warrant the establishment of an offical Israelitische Kultusgemeinde (Jewish congregation) of Mistelbach. There is evidence of a Jewish prayer hall from as early as 1889. The prayer hall was probably located at the residence of the cantor, Sigmund Jellinek, who lived on Annagasse.

Religious life was vibrant in Mistelbach. In 1895, a synagogue was erected at 24 Oserstraße. The red-brick, three-story building was a typical example of rural synagogue architecture. Until the 1930s, there were three prayer halls in Mistelbach in addition to the synagogue. In 1898, the Mistelbach community dedicated a cemetery, which still exists today, at 104 Wald Straße.

The Mistelbach congregation, which founded a chevra kadisha (burial society) and a Ladies’ Charitable Association, was served by rabbis from Vienna. After the formation of the congregation in 1890, Rabbi L. Reich was called from Floridsdorf to serve in Mistelbach. In 1899, Dr. Sigmund Gelbhaus took up the rabbi’s post. He was succeeded in 1921 by Rabbi Dr. Israel Taglicht, who was later Chief Rabbi of Vienna and was the last rabbi to serve Mistelbach before the community’s destruction in 1938.

In the early 1930s, many Jews left Mistelbach and settled mainly in Vienna. At the time of Anschluss (the annexation of Austria by Germany) in March 1938, approximately 20 Jewish families remained in Mistelbach. In July 1938, the congregation was forced to surrender its synagogue to the town authorities. Those Jews still living in the town either fled to Vienna or emigrated. In September 1938, the Nazi press reported that no Jews remained in the Mistelbach district.

During World War II, the Nazis used the synagogue as a warehouse and later as accommodation for Jewish slave laborers from Poland. In 1945, the Nazis set fire to the former synagogue lest the food stored inside it during the war fall into the hands of the Russian army. In 1952, the heavily damaged building was handed over to the post-war Jewish Congregation of Vienna which, as part of the program for the restitution of Jewish property, had been declared the legal successor of the Mistelbach congregation. The Viennese congregation sold the synagogue building in 1973 to a private individual. The building stood empty for a while and was eventually demolished in 1976. Today, a residential building stands on the site of the former synagogue.
Sources: - Genée, Pierre, Synagogen in Österreich, Wien 1992
- David, Jüdische Kulturzeitschrift in Österreich