|Families and Life
Elli Ginsburg – Straussburg memories from Lackenbach, 1927-1938.
As told to Yohanan on 10/5/2010 and 3/5/2011 in her nursing home in Hertzelya.
(translated from Hebrew 23/11/2014)
Memories from Lackenbach:
Yitzhak Ginsburg, Elli’s father, was a goldsmith: He
used to make silverware, rings, silver decorations
etc. Some of his work was part of the decoration of
the Lackenbach synagogue.
A few silver art work survived (see photos in the Ginsburg-family page). When Rabbi Krausz left Lackenbach to Israel in 1935, he took with him some of the silverware and they passed to his son Adonyahu Krausz.
His successor as the Lackenbach Rabbi, Rabbi Ungar, also made it to Israel, to Bnei Braq, after the war.
war, before 1938, there were 4 lanes, dead end
streets, off SchlossGasse to the north.
The 4th lane walking on SchlossGasse from the train station into the town was TempleGasse. These 4 streets were mostly Jewish.
The Jewish centre used to be in the centre of the town, in Temple Gasse. Temple Gasse lead to a paved yard with a well in the middle and the synagogue on the side.
school was located next door to the synagogue. It had
year 1 to 8.
After finishing school children would study in a Yeshiva in Wien or leave school and study any profession.
there were small year level groups, there were 3
groups: year 1 to 4 studied together, year 5-6 and
They studied in two shifts – morning shift and afternoon shift. It was quiet in the classrooms though they were separated inside the class to sub age groups,
each group sitting in a different corner. The teacher used to move from one group to th other to teach, while the others were practicing.
to the school were 2 rooms, inside was a large oven,
that served for baking the Matzot for Pessach. Each
family paid for her baking time.
They used to take a wooden box, like a small trunk, coverd with white paper, into which they placed the baked Matzot. All members of the family participated:
Elli’s duty was to check that all Matzot were thin flat and no Matzah was folded, because if it was, it would have been considered as none Kosher.
rest of the year the oven was used to warm the cholent
(meat stew traditionally eaten on the Sabbath) –
all the housewifes used to bring their dishes to cook as it was wide and had space. Elli remembers how they used to get dirty from the baking and cooking.
social service was the ‘Kehila House’, where Torah
studies were conducted every morning. Elli’s father
used to get up at 5AM every morning to study,
and again went there to study at night after work. Not everybody used to work, here were those who studied all night, Elli remembers their women bringing fish to eat...
The Rabbi was the teacher. It also served as a reception hall for all kind of events, also for weddings.
families used to live in TempleGasse: The Ginsburg
family lived there, near them the Lobl family:
Ya’akov Lobl was Elli’s mother’s cousin: His mother was Neufeld, sister of Elli’s grandfather David Neufeld.
Lobl had a grocery store next door to his house, in the north east corner of SchlossGasse and TempleGasse.
Opposite this store, in the other corner, lived the widow Wallisch with her two daughters.
Opposite Ginsburg lived Austerlitz. In the Austerlitz house, one of the rooms somehow used to belong by inheritance to Elli’s family.
It used to serve as a guest room, where visitors could stay, and in everyday life it served as the kids playroom. Elli remembers playing in there with dolls for hours.
Also lived in the street Kalman family and another Lobl family which were not related.
There were in the neighbourhood also: Rigler the shoemaker; Sussmann the tailor; Austerlitz, who had also a grocery store somewhere else in the town. Wiselmann was the butcher.
and Shochet was Tauber. He was a good friend of Elli’s
father. His children were the girl Thea, and her 3
brothers Bendit, Alush and Motush.
They lived on the side of the well yard, next door to the Rabbi (Unger and Krausz lived in the same house.
used to live Lederer – the head “Shamash” (attendant);
one of his jobs in the community was to wake up all
the men early morning to go to the synagogue to pray
and to study.
He used to knock with his wooden stick and shout: “Austerlitz, Ginsburg, Lobl, Tzeit Tzum Shool” (“time for synagogue” in Yiddish).
On Saturdays he used to shout only, not to knock!
Next door to the synagogue lived Ostreicher. Above him, via the staircase seen at photos behind the well used to live Kohn (pronounced: Kon); they had several kids including Herta Kohn.
In SchlossGasse 10 near the 3rd lane lived Loeffler family.
Elli’s best friends were Erna Rigler, Esti and Nuri Lobl and Lili Polack. In their free time they used to play with marbles, jump with ropes, play with the ball and play “Class” (Hopscotch).
Hauptplatz used to be the street leading to the Jewish Cemetery, turning from SclossGasse.
On the left
side used to stand the Wallisch bread Bakery and next
door the Kornfein bakery; further was a grocery store
near the church.
Greensfeld, the father of the twin girls, had a textile shop closer to the cemetery.
the train station was the Krutzenberg hill ‘The Berg’.
It spread all the way from the train station to
It was a favourite place for the kids because they used to play out there in nature and roll down the hill in the green grass.
Neugasse was built later, when Lackenbach spread larger, and single houses were built – the old Lackenbach was built as a farm, each house had an adjoined farm land behind.
playground and the Jewish kids meeting place after
school used to be the wide paved yard between the
school and the Kehila House, near the well.
The boys used to play there football.
hardly any cars. In the winter they were sliding in
the snow. The next door Lobl had a horse that lived
under the house;
Lobl used to ride the horse with groceries to the nearby villages.
It all vanished on March 1938.
TempleGasse with the paved court yard, the Jewish center, including the synagogue, the school, the Kehila house and the surrounding Jewish houses,
were all destroyed, flattened down during and after the war. Also was destroyed the 3rd lane off SchlossGasse.
New roads were rebuilt over the houses; new houses were built over the TempleGasse and the Jewish centre and on top off the ruines of the 3rd lane.
(Mini-DV), app. 16 minutes, 2007–2008, shot in
Lackenbach. Language: German (English subtitles). To
view, click on the above title.
"I grew up in the small village of Lackenbach in the Austrian region Burgenland, close to the Hungarian border. Until 1938, this was one of the orthodox Jewish communities of the Burgenland (until 1921 part of Western Hungary), referred to as "Hasheva kehillot" ("The Seven Communities"). Around the mid-1800s, the majority of the population was Jewish, most of them leading a religious life. Everyday life was centered around the observance of the Shabbat and the holidays. There was a big shul, a chassene, a mikwe, a Jewish school, a kosher butcher, and most of the local shops and businesses were run by Jews. At the time shortly before the "Anschluss", even the policeman of the village was Jewish.
As I child, I didn't know anything about the Jewish past of my hometown because nobody ever talked about it. I only knew that there was a "Jewish cemetery" somewhere but it was considered somehow "spooky", and it didn't make any sense to me. Only when I was 25 and lived already in Vienna, I visited the cemetery. But it took another 15 years until I started research about the Jewish past of Lackenbach. I visited Israel and found survivors from Lackenbach. I wanted to know how the Jews were perceived by their Christian neighbors and how they remembered the destruction of the Lackenbach Kehilla. My interviewees were young people at that time, they are farmers and their parents delivered to Jewish families. Their childhood friends were the kids of their Jewish neighbors. One of my interviewee was the maid of a Jewish family who owned a bakery and grocery.
The video starts with historical photographs of the 1920s and 1930s: the shul, the departure of the rabbi to Erez Israel, and street scenes. They show a part of the local history that is gone forever. The only physical reminder of the Jewish history of Lackenbach is the cemetery were some of the famous Lackenbach rabbis, like Rabi Shalom Charif, are buried.
The title song is sung by a group of local women of the close by village of Deutschkreutz, which the Jews referred to as "Celem". Like Lackenbach, it was one of the Seven Communities with a large Jewish population. The song's text goes back to a German fairy-tale like folk song from the 19th century, "Die schöne Jüdin" ("The Beautiful Jewess"). There are various versions of the text. In the one recording used here, the text refers to the daughter of a beautiful Jewess who throws herself in a lake because of a broken heart. This folk song shows how Jewish life has left marks in popular Christian culture. On the other hand, the song leaves a bitter taste when looking back – after the Shoah. There is something (unconcsiously?) merciless about the way these women sing about the poor woman who kills herself. When I went back to Lackenbach and talked to the local people, I felt there was little regret about what happened to their Jewish neighbors. Silence leads to total forgetting and thus obliteration. By talking to these people I wanted to help preserving the memory of the Kehilla Lackenbach."