BURGENLAND, one of the federal states of Austria, on the Hungarian border. Located in Burgenland were the "seven communities" (sheva kehillot), noted for their outstanding yeshivot and eminent rabbis: *Eisenstadt (Hung. Kismarton; Heb. א״ש), *Mattersburg (Mattersdorf; Hung. Nagymarton), *Deutschkreutz (Hung. Sopronkeresztúr, Németkeresztúr, today Keresztúr; Hebr. צעלם, צלם), *Frauenkirchen (Hung. Boldogasszonyfalva; Heb. abbr. פ״ק), Kittsee (Hung. Köpcsény; Heb. קיצע), Kobersdorf (Hung. Kabold; Heb. ק״ד), and Lackenbach (Hung. Lakompak; Heb. ל״ב). Other communities in the region were those of Donnerskirchen, Gattendorf (in Jewish sources, Kottendorf), Guessing, Neckenmarkt, Neufeld (for some time included in the "seven communities"), Nikitsch, Rechnitz, Rust, and Schlaining (Stadtschlaining). Under Hungarian administration, the community of *Sopron (Oedenburg) was closely connected with the seven. According to legend there was a Jewish settlement in the region in the eighth century, but the first documentary record of the Jews of Eisenstadt is from the year 1296. Jews are also mentioned in the Eisenstadt city privileges from 1373. From 1491, when the region was under the administration of Lower Austria, the communities of Burgenland were ruled by local lords, who treated them well. In 1496 Emperor *Maximilian I resettled in the area Jews expelled from *Styria. In 1529 *Ferdinand I renewed the Jewish privileges for Eisenstadt, Mattersdorf (Mattersburg), and Kobersdorf. The Burgenland communities began to flourish when between 1622 and 1626 they came under the protection of the counts Esterházy; the southern communities of Rechnitz, Guessing, and Schlaining were protected by the counts Batthyány, others by the counts Nádasdy. From 1647 the region was administratively a part of Hungary within the framework of the Habsburg monarchy. At the time of the expulsion of the Jews from Lower Austria in 1670–71, the communities of Eisenstadt, Kobersdorf, and Mattersburg were also forced to leave, but these communities were transferred by the Esterházys to other localities in their territories and were soon able to return. Around 1700 12 Jewish communities were situated in Burgenland.
The charter granted by the Esterházys in 1690 to the Eisenstadt community, which guaranteed them autonomy and protection in time of war, was extended later to all the seven communities, and formed the basis of their considerable measure of self-administration. The representatives of the seven communities met periodically in Eisenstadt, mainly to apportion among themselves the heavy taxes and "gifts" (mezigot) which they had to make to all the staff of the count, including the coachman, and to defend their legal position. The minutes of these meetings were recorded in the "black ledger" of the seven communities. When in 1749 the Hungarian government fixed the "tolerance-tax" to be paid by Jewish residents according to counties, five of the communities (excluding Frauenkirchen and Kittsee) were included in the county of Sopron, thus terminating their special status. They organized themselves as the "five communities" and were joined by a sixth community formed by the Jews scattered throughout Sopron county. In 1840 the Hungarian parliament (Reichstag) authorized free choice of settlement and profession for Jews. As a result of changes following the 1848 revolution in Austria-Hungary, all the communities except those of Eisenstadt and Mattersdorf lost their autonomy. Many Jews left Burgenland, mainly for Vienna. Around 1850 the Jewish population in Burgenland was 8,487 persons, in some communities over 50% of the population.
In the late 19th century the Burgenland communities became the mainstay of separatist *Orthodoxy in Hungary. The rabbi of Deutschkreutz, Menahem Katz-Wannfried, invited the rabbis of Hungary to decide on secession (1869). At the end of the 19th century the communities diminished in importance. After World War I and the collapse of Austria-Hungary Burgenland became part of the new Austrian republic (1921). Before 1921 the seven communities were organized in the Orthodoxe Israelitische Landeskanzlei; Schlaining, Rechnitz, and Guessing were part of the liberal Israelitische Landeskanzlei. In May 1922 the combined communal organization was renewed as the Verband der autonomen israelitischen Kultusgemeinden des Burgenlandes, which included all the Burgenland communities. The Austrian school law of 1936 gave the Jewish schools in Burgenland equal status with Catholic and Protestant schools. The Jewish population in Burgenland numbered 3,800 in 1938.
Immediately after the Anschluss, the Jews were driven out; 1,900 had been expelled or had emigrated by February 1938, and 1,510 were removed, entirely destitute, to Vienna. Ten places, including Eisenstadt, were declared "free of Jews" (*Judenrein). A notorious incident was the fate of 51 Burgenland Jews, who were placed on a narrow land-strip in the middle of the Danube, because neither Czechoslovakia nor Hungary would let them enter their territory. Nearly all the synagogues in Burgenland were destroyed on November 10, 1938 (*Kristallnacht), the others at a later date. At least 30% of the Jewish population of Burgenland was killed in concentration camps.
After 1945 and into the 21st century there were no organized Jewish communities in Burgenland; the cemeteries were cared for by the Vienna community's Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien (Kobersdorf, Lackenbach) or the individual communities (Deutschkreutz, Eisenstadt, Kittsee, Mattersburg, Frauenkirchen). The Verein Schalom association helped to rebuild and care for the cemeteries. Many of the relics of the communities were preserved in the special department
In 1972 the Austrian Jewish Museum (Oesterreichisches Juedisches Museum) was founded, located in the former residence of the Hof- und Kriegsoberfactor rabbi Samson *Wertheimer (1658–1724) in Eisenstadt. The private synagogue of Wertheimer on the first floor is part of the museum. The collection contains a small part of the Judaica collection of Sándor Wolf. From 1974 the Verein Oesterreichisches Juedisches Museum Eisenstadt has published the "Studia Judaica Austriaca" series.
The synagogue of Stadtschlaining (Schlaining) is today used as a library for the Oesterreichisches Studienzentrum fuer Frieden und Konfliktloesung and the EPU – European University Center for Peace Studies.
B. Wachstein, Urkunden und Akten zur Geschichte der Juden in Eisenstadt und der Siebengemeinden (1926); idem, Die Grabinschriften des alfen Judenfriedhofs in Eisenstadt (1922); M. Markbreiter, Beitraege zur Geschichte der juedischen Gemeinde Eisenstadt (1908); A. Fuerst, Sitten und Gebraeuche in der Eisenstaedter Judengasse (1908); idem, in: Mult és Jövő, 2 (1912), 158–62, 199–201, 257–8; S. Wolf, ibid., 261–76; Taglicht, in: YIVO, Landau Bukh (1926), 337–46; Moses, in: JJLG 18 (1926), 305–26; 19 (1928), 195–221; S. Tamir (Lipsky), Pirkei Sheliḥut (1967), 63–65; MHJ, 10 (1967), index S.V. Kabold, Kismarton, Kőpcsény, Lakompak, Nagymarton; H. Gold (ed.) Gedenkbuch der untergegangenen Judengemeinden des Burgenlandes (1970). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Reiss, Hier in der heiligen juedischen Gemeinde. Die Grabinschriften des juengeren juedischen Friedhofes in Eisenstadt (1995); H. Prickler, "Beiträge zur Geschichte der burgenlaendischen Judensiedlungen," in: Juden im Grenzraum. Geschichte, Kultur und Lebensweilt der Juden im Burgenlaendisch-Westungarischen Grenzraum und den angrenzenden Regionen vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart (1993); 65–106; J. Reiss, Geschichte der Juden und juedische Geschichte im Burgenland, in: F. Mayrhofer and F. Opll (eds.), Juden in der Stadt (1999), 1–19; W. Häusler, Probleme der Geschichte des westungarischen Judentums in der Neuzeit, in: Burgenlaendische Heimatblaetter, 42 (1980), 32–38, 69–100; R. Kropf, Beitraege zur Sozialgeschichte des suedburgenlaendisch-westungarischen Judentums vom Toleranzpatent Josephs II. bis zur Revolution von 1848, in: W. Guertler ans G.J. Winkler (eds.), Forscher – Gestalter – Vermittler. Festschrift Gerald Schlag (2001), 209–23; G. Tschoegl, B. Tobler, and A. Lang (eds.), Vertrieben. Erinnerungen burgenlaendischer Juden und Juedinnen (2004); S. Spitzer (ed.), Beitraege zur Geschichte der Juden im Burgenland (1995); Das Österreichische Jüdische Museum (1988); N. Vielmetti, Das Schicksal der juedischen Gemeinden des Burgenlandes, in: 50 Jahre Burgenland. Vortraege im Rahmen der landeskundlichen Forschungsstelle am Landesarchiv (1971), 196–214.
[Aharon Fuerst /
Barbara Staudinger (2nd. ed.)
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.