Oberwart

Synagogue built in: 1904
Earliest record of community: 1830
Last rabbi: Felix Blau
Community members: 1868: 16; 1880: 75; 1890: 101; 1934: 138
After 1945: Fire station
Today: Music School
Summary: By 1868, Jews had been living in Oberwart—a town in the Burgenland province of today’s Austria—for just over four decades. An official Jewish community, affiliated with the recently formed union of Hungarian neolog communities, was founded in that year. The Oberwart community included the Jewish inhabitants of the nearby towns and villages of Badersdorf, Grosspetersdorf, Markt Allhau, Oberschützen, and Pinkafeld. The Jews of Stadtschlaining joined in 1929.  

Oberwart’s synagogue building, which incorporated a school and living quarters for the shochet (kosher butcher), was erected in 1904. The synagogue was inaugurated in the presence of Chief Rabbi Dr. Bela Bernstein. After 1929, the rabbi of Stadtschlaining, Felix Blau, moved to Oberwart and officiated there. The rabbi’s move to Oberwart—despite some of its affiliated communities (Pinkafeld, Bad Tatzmannsdorf, and even Grosspetersdorf in the courtyard at 7 Haupstrasse) having their own prayer halls—was prompted by the decrease in the Jewish population in these places during the interwar years.

After the Anschluss (the annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany) the Oberwart synagogue was seized and all the community’s property confiscated by the local authorities. Jews had to leave Oberwart as soon as possible; many fled to Vienna. In 1939, the synagogue building was converted into a fire station and remained so until the 1990s, when it reopened as a music school.
Fate of the synagogue: Expropriated and converted into a fire station
Located in: Burgenland