The Medieval Synagogue in Korneuburg Austria

Introduction

There are very few medieval synagogues that survived in Europe which makes the synagogue in Korneuburg on the Danube north of Vienna immediately a remarkable and important building.  It is believed to have been built in the 14th century making it one of the oldest standing synagogue buildings in Europe. 

It has not been used however since the expulsion of Jews from the town in 1421.   A modern community existed in the town until 1939 but did not have access to the building being in private hands.

The building was listed as a historic landmark in the 1980s but remains privately owned and is currently used as a garage.

The Challenge

The building is in poor condition and its current use as a garage is not considered appropriate for such an important site.  While there has been a longstanding plan for the Municipality to take over the building and restore it, this has been held up by lack of funds and changes in political leadership and political will.

The Plan

There are several local activists who have been promoting the cause of the building, lobbying for the Municipality to purchase the building.  Once the building will be bought, the plan is that it will be conserved and turned into a cultural centre and educational facility explaining the history and fate of both the medieval and modern Jewish communities in the 19th and 20th centuries across the region.

There is already agreement in principle that, once the Municipality owns the building, the project will secure additional funding from the province of Lower Austria and the Federal Government.  However, the Municipality has until now felt unable to afford the full purchase price and is looking for private partners to facilitate the acquisition.