DESTROYED JEWISH COMMUNITY: Oberwart (Felsöeör)
The first three Jewish residents are
mentioned in Oberwart In 1824. In 1840, when the Hungarian Reichstag law gave
Jews the right to live and work in trade in Hungary, many Jews moved into the
emerging regional center of Oberwart. Many of those who moved to Oberwart came
from Schlaining. In 1868 a branch of the cultural community of Schlaining was
founded in Oberwart. Around 1905 there were in Oberwart more Jewish members of
the Schlaining cultural community than in Schlaining itself. Because of the
emigration of the Jewish population the influence of Schlaining members within
the cultural community decreased. Additionally, the taxes for the cultural
community were paid mainly by the Oberwart members. In March 1922, 10 members
from Oberwart informed the community they would no longer pay taxes to
Schlaining, rather to the Oberwart branch. This meant a sudden worsening of the
financial position for the Schlaining cultural community. Since 1924 the
Oberwart branch claimed the status of an independent cultural community, and in
1930 the Oberwart community was officially independent.
Most Jewish families in the 1930s worked
as traders or in goods production. Altogether there were 15 merchants and
travelling salesmen and 7 craftsmen, including tailors, shoemakers, hat makers,
fur traders and electricians, as well as butchers, wine salesmen and
woodworkers; a few others were workers and clerks; 6 families counted
independent professionals, such as doctors and lawyers. Their customers came
from all of Oberwart's social levels.
Joseph P. Weber, Oberwart - Pacifica CA/ USA remembers:
“Burgenland in these days reminded
one of the Middle Ages. There was still a ‘City drummer’. In the distance
one heard ‘drum-drum-drum’, it came closer. The man in uniform, similar to
that of a postman’s, hit the drum. And all the neighbors and children ran
together, and the man said: ‘It shall be announced!’ And he would read a
list of the recent news, first in German and then in Hungarian. – At that time
Hungarian was spoken more than German. My parents never lost their accent; they
had a strong Hungarian accent their whole lives. That is, as they said, the nice
thing about Oberwart.
Only eight days after Austria’s ‘annexation’
to Nazi Germany, the Jews were forced to give up their shops and had to leave
Oberwart within a short time. The ownership of the cultural community went to
the political community of Oberwart, the Synagogue was converted into a fire
station, and the school was extended and used for apartment buildings.
In Yad Vashem: http://www.yadvashem.org/wps/portal/IY_HON_Welcome
there are 33 testimonies for Jews who were born or lived in Oberwart and were murdered in the Holocaust. Victims mentioned are: Fischer, Gruenwald, Korenfein, Medovoy, Schein, Schlenger, Angelus, Schwartz and others.
Destinations of the Oberwart Jewish families were:
Samuel Löwy: Argentina
Returned after 1945:
Visible traces today
* Memorial plaque on the former Synagogue
* Memorial plaque for the victims of National Socialism is located in the city center in front of the war memorial.
Fotos: Wolfgang R. Kubizek
by Johannes Scholem Graf