Sensational discovery at one of Vienna’s Jewish cemeteries
In July 2013 restoration work at the Jewish cemetery on Seegasse in the ninth district revealed headstones dating back up to 500 years. Their original positions have been determined with the help of a plan made in 1917, making this the only Jewish cemetery in the world which has been preserved in its pre-World War II state.
Numerous Jewish cemeteries were desecrated by the Nazis, who used the stones for the war effort or as building materials. In 1943 members of the Jewish community hid headstones from Seegasse under a mound of earth in Vienna’s Central Cemetery. But it’s only now that buried stones have been discovered about a meter beneath the ground in Seegasse itself. Restoration work on the 2000 square meter graveyard, which lies in the courtyard of a retirement home, is being carried out in accordance with Jewish rituals. The project has been under way for nine years and is not expected to be completed until 2018 at the earliest.
The Jewish Cemetery in the ninth district dates back to the mid-16th century, and is Vienna’s oldest preserved Jewish cemetery. It remained in use until 1783 and was left unchanged until 1943. After World War II 280 of the original 931 gravestones were re-erected. The historic site is maintained by Vienna’s Jewish Community organization, and around 350 of the graves can be viewed by the public.