'The Place of My Fathers' Sepulchres': the Jewish cemeteries in Vienna
This thesis presents the first integrated history of Vienna’s four Jewish cemeteries as sites reflecting the construction, negotiation and at times contestation of Jewish communal belonging within Viennese society, embedded in the Viennese cityscape. Through a novel analysis of the sepulchral epigraphy of the thousands of matzevot or grave-memorials contained therein, the development and expression of codes of belonging constructed in the nexus between shifting notions of ‘Jewish’ and ‘Viennese’ culture are illuminated in a longue durée from the medieval into the modern periods. The Shoah, while it does not represent the first instance of the violent erasures of Jewish life and culture in the city, through its magnitude and presence in living memory constitutes a profound rupture in the historic enmeshment of the Jewish community in Viennese society. During the Shoah, the cemeteries became a focal point for the attempted excision or revision of Jewish cultural heritage and its place in Viennese culture, perpetrated by a complex network of agency, with the cemeteries moreover becoming recalibrated as sites of intense Jewish-communal introspection and activity. The cemeteries constituted after the Shoah some of the only sites of Jewish heritage to survive in the physical and memorial landscape, becoming moreover deeply contested sites of memory, within the context of the fledgling re-establishment of Jewish life in the city and the conflicted political and historical discourses in the Second Austrian Republic. This thesis presents the cemeteries as sites of the most profound engagements with Vienna’s long and convoluted Jewish history, comprising moments of great cultural prowess as well as murderous destructivity, embodying the deeply interactive yet conflicted relationship between the City of Vienna and its successive Jewish communities.
'The Place of My Fathers' Sepulchres': the Jewish cemeteries in Vienna. . 2015: https://archive.jpr.org.uk/object-aus5