Krems

Synagogue built in: 1893-1894
Earliest record of community: 1848
Community members: 1869 - 179; 1880 - 595; 1905 - 427; 1924 - 310; 1934 - 220; 1938 - 197
Pogrom Night: Demolished and vandalized; later expropriated and profaned
After 1945: Back to Jewish community of Vienna and in 1974 sold
Today: Office building since 1978
Summary: Documentary proof exists of a settlement of Jews in Krems in the 13th century. A synagogue is mentioned in a written record from 1390. Krems went on to become home to one of the most important Jewish congregations in medieval Austria. Outstanding men such as Rabbi Israel (the great grandfather of Rabbi Israel Isserlein) and Rabbi Aaron Blumlein lived active lives within the Krems community. In 1420, the Jews of Krems were victimized during the antisemitic persecutions now known as the Viennese Gezera.

Not until the 19th century would a Jewish community exist again in Krems. In the 1840s, Jews from Bohemia, Moravia and Hungary settled there. The community established a prayer hall in 1848, the location of which remains unknown. In 1853, the community opened a small cemetery in the middle of some vineyards, far away from the town itself. This cemetery was also used by members of the Jewish community of St. Pölten.

Moses Beer Schön was appointed rabbi of Krems in June 1855. Documents from 1860 indicate that he was succeeded by Aron Frischauer from Alsó Lendva, in Hungary. In 1862, the Jewish Religious Association of Krems was formed. In 1878, the association employed Adolf Hahn as its rabbi. Rabbi Hahn was succeeded in 1881 by Dr. David Weiss. Weiss served as rabbi until his death in 1904.

Since the Jewish cemetery could not be enlarged, the community decided to open a new burial ground east of the Christian cemetery, at 57 Wienerstraβe. The cemetery was dedicated in 1882.

In 1892, the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde (Jewish Congregation) of Krems was officially founded. In that year, the congregation acquired a plot of land at 2 Dinstlgasse for the construction of a synagogue. The synagogue was built in 1893/94.

After the death of Rabbi Dr. David Weiss (in 1904), the congregation decided, due to financial difficulties, to hire Rabbi Dr. Jakob Diamant of Horn to serve the congregations of both Horn and Krems. Rabbi Diamant was succeeded in February 1912 by Moritz Singer. In September 1912, the rabbi’s post was filled by Dr. Meir Gabriel Mehrer from Vienna, who was spiritual head of the congregation until its destruction in 1938.

In the 1920s and 1930s, for economic reasons and owing to the strong presence of the Nazi party in Krems, many Jews left the town and moved to larger cities. Hitler’s rise to power in Germany in 1933 provided yet more impetus for Jews to leave.

After the Anschluss (annexation of Austria by Germany), the town administration in Krems was taken over by the Nazis, who subjected local Jews to humiliation and terror. The synagogue was daubed with swastikas. In September 1938, the Jewish community was ordered to vacate the synagogue, which was to be placed at the disposal of refugees from the Sudetenland. Jews were abused by the SA and the local townspeople. The Krems municipal authorities forced the community chairman to sign a so-called “gift contract” surrendering ownership of the synagogue. The cemetery was also confiscated.

On Pogrom Night, November 9/10, 1938, the SS ordered that the doors and windows of the synagogue and of Jewish houses and stores be smashed. The synagogue was destroyed.

Many Jews fled abroad or to Vienna. Those who remained in Krems were eventually deported to Vienna and from there to concentration camps. In 1940, there were no Jews left in Krems. Only one Jew came back to the town after the war. In 1947, the synagogue was handed over to the post-war Jewish Congregation of Vienna, which sold the building in 1974. The former synagogue was eventually torn down in 1978. Today, an office building stands on the site of the former synagogue of Krems.