JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen RE: seeking Vienna information #general


Wegner, Peter
 

Dear Milton, who asked:

"I have requested information >from the Jewish community leaders in
Vienna about who may have paid for a gravestone in 1940- family member, etc
and how to get that information."

My husband's paternal grandfather died in Vienna in 1940 of natural
causes (i.e., before the deportations began), and is buried in the
"new" Jewish section of the Zentralfriedhof. We discovered this only
recently (>from Austrian state archives), and visited the grave a few
years ago. We perceived at once that the shiny black stone was far
more recent than 1940, and more importantly that it was identical to one
or two hundred others in the immediate vicinity -- not just in the size,
shape, and the stone it was made from, but also in the limited items of
information provided (we checked several), all being in precisely the
same format: Deceased's name and surname, his/her year of birth, and
the exact date of death (all given only in German, no Hebrew information
at all). The deaths all seemed to be dated between 1938 (the year of
the Anschluss) and 1942 (as we know, 1941-2 were the years of
deportation of most remaining Viennese Jews -- so virtually no later
burials occurred during the war.)

On checking into this strange phenomenon, we learned that although the
individual grave locations are reliably accurate (the parameters having
been recorded in the Jewish section's files at the time of burial), the
actual stones were supplied only quite recently (i.e. after Austria
admitted its share of responsibility for the events of the Austrian
Holocaust). The stones were all produced by one stonemason
(I believe around 10-15 years ago).

These stones were obviously not paid for by family members. During
1938-42, the Nazis presumably did not allow the making or placement of
Jewish stones; and after 1942 there were virtually no Jews left to die
in Vienna. Nor, obviously, did many deportees survive -- and few
Viennese Jews who had fled before the war returned after it ended.
Hence there were no family members to supply stones for those who had
died there during 1938-42.

We learned that all the identical stones we observed had been supplied
by a Jewish philanthropical foundation, but I forget which one. I don't
recall whether the Austrian government provided any of the funds used
for this purpose; perhaps someone can tell us.

Judith Romney Wegner
jrw@...

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