Think Vienna and think Schoenberg, Schnitzler and Freud. These are just three Jewish names (among countless others) that immediately pop into mind: people who have contributed significantly to Vienna’s international reputation as a city of intellectuals and artists. No matter where one walks in this European metropolis, the visitor comes across monuments of a vibrant Jewish life and history.
During the 13th and 14th centuries, the Jews of Vienna were recognized as one of the most important Jewish communities in central Europe. By the 18th century, the city was host to a plethora of prominent Court Jews like Samuel Oppenheimer and Samson Wertheimer. They turned Vienna into a center of Jewish diplomacy within the Empire and an important crossroads for trade. Finally Emperor Joseph II issued an Edict of Tolerance (1781) that eventually led to emancipation.In the 19th and early 20th century the community grew rapidly and became one of the leading Jewish communities in the world. Avant-garde author Arthur Schnitzler, expressionist composer Arnold Schoenberg and the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud revolutionized their respective fields and placed Vienna on the world map of culture and science.
Many Viennese Jews were able to flee from the Nazi terror. Others were deported, some ending in the notorious Mauthausen concentration camp or its satellite camps. Keeping the memory of the Shoah alive is a never-ending task for a city in which at one time every tenth person was Jewish. It has taken many decades for Austria to accept its responsibility for the crimes of the Nazis, but it is now doing so. Since 2000, Judenplatz is home to an extraordinary Holocaust memorial. Inspired by the Jewish love of learning, British artist Rachel Whitehead created a symbolic ‘nameless library’ above the former old synagogue. The archaeological excavation of the Judenplatz synagogue is now part of the Jewish Museum and together, the two memorial sites form a bridge of memory across time.
Today orthodox and liberal Jewish institutions of Vienna work for the future. The creation of new schools and education facilities, cultural exhibits and prayer rooms are contributing substantially to a pluralistic Jewish community. Milk & Honey Tours navigates through this maze of history and culture. We’ll help you to discover eight centuries of fascinating Jewish history in the Leopoldstadt district, to find hidden cemeteries, to hear little-known tales about the Ferris wheel and to be mesmerized by the stunning grandeur of the Ring St. palaces. Why not give in to temptation and try a piece of kosher Wienerschnitzel and find out that Jewish life in Vienna isn’t just a matter of history! Enjoy Our Vienna River Cruise Excursion!