Horn

Synagogue built in: 1903
Earliest record of community: 1863
Community members: 1857 - 7; 1880 - 89; 1905 - 200 (complete community); 1910 - 52; 1930 - 62; 1938 - 35; 1938 - 249 (complete community)
Pogrom Night: demolished and its interior equipment removed
After 1945: Confiscated and profaned; Returned to IKG Vienna and sold to private person
Today: private property
Summary: In the 14th century, Jews settled in the smaller towns of Lower Austria such as Horn and Eggenburg. Jewish community life in Horn in the Middle Ages ended with Leopold I’s expulsion order in 1670.

In the mid-19th century, a Jew named Josef Schlesinger settled in the village of Altenburg, which belonged to the district of Horn. In 1863, nine recently settled Jewish families founded a religious association. Gabriel Sabl, who was employed as the association’s teacher of religion, also functioned as cantor and as shochet (ritual slaughterer). In 1870, the association founded the Ständige Israelitische Betgenossenschaft in Horn (Permanent Jewish Prayer Society of Horn). Twenty-three members of the prayer society went on to establish a chevra kadisha (burial society). In 1873, the Israelitischen Kultusgemeinde Horn (Jewish Congregation of Horn) was officially founded. In the same year, the community acquired a plot of land southeast of Horn for a Jewish cemetery.

Rabbi Isaak Rosner, Horn’s first rabbi, was succeeded in 1892 by Dr. Adolf Diamant, who was in turn succeeded by Isaak Leopold Löwy. The congregation’s last rabbi was Dr. M. Gabriel Meier-Mehrer, from Vienna.

Following the official founding of the congregation, religious services were initially held in several rented premises. A permanent synagogue was later established in a house bought for this purpose, at 25 Stadtgraben. The synagogue building also housed a school, a guest house and the mikvah (ritual bath).

When Germany annexed Austria in March 1938, the Jews of Horn were affected by the Nazis’ antisemitic laws. The Jewish cemetery was destroyed several times. On September 18, 1938, all Jews were ordered to leave Horn within 24 hours. They assembled in the synagogue and from there were transported to Vienna. Most of them lost their lives in the Nazis’ concentration camps. On the day before the expulsion, the Horn congregation’s chairman, Ferdinand Polatschek, and the other members of the committee were forced to sign a document surrendering, for no cost, the synagogue, the cemetery and all other property belonging to the congregation. The chairman was also forced to sign a so-called “gift contract” witnessed by a notary public. The synagogue was then rented out and used for profane purposes. The town council also took illegal possession of privately-owned Jewish property. Despite Horn’s being “Judenrein” (“free of Jews”) in 1938, on Pogrom Night in November of that year, Nazi party members still smashed the windows of what had been Jewish houses. The windows of the synagogue and of the funeral hall in the cemetery were also broken. All movable goods were confiscated by the SA.

After World War II, the remaining property of Horn’s former Jewish community was restored to the community’s legal successor, the Kultusgemeinde (Jewish Congregation) of Vienna. In 1971, the Viennese congregation sold the former synagogue building at 25 Stadtgraben to a private individual.
Sources: - Genée, Pierre, Synagogen in Österreich, Wien 1992
- David, Jüdische Kulturzeitschrift in Österreich
- Rabl, E., Die Juden in Horn, in: Polleross, F., “Die Erinnerung tut zu weh”, Horn/Waidhofen, 1996
- Milchram, G., Kehila Kedoscha Neunkirchen, Wien 1997
- Rabl, E., Die jüdische Bevölkerung Horns: vertrieben und ausgelöscht, in: Horner Kalender, 118. Jg., 1989