New Synagogue

Erection/Date: 1913 Inauguration
People: Theodor Schreier and Viktor Postelberg (architects), Rabbiner Dr. Adolf Aron Schächter (Chairman of the "Temple Erection Association")
Building history: 1907 foundation of the Temple Erection Association, 1912 start of construction, inauguration on August 17th 1913
Time of National Socialism: in 1938 the New Synagogue was looted and the interior was destroyed; subsequently, the synagogue was used/owned by: SA-Standarte 21 (until 1941), the Municipality of St. Pölten (until 1945) and the Red Army. In 1947 it was returned to the Municipality of St. Pölten
Restitution: in 1954 restitution to the IKG Vienna (Israelite Religious Community Vienna) as legal successor of the IKG St. Pölten
Renovation: 1980–1984; 1984 re-opening; Since 1988: seat of the Institute for Jewish History in Austria
Adresse: Schulpromenade, today Dr. Karl Renner-Promenade 22

Overview of the history of the Synagogue

Initially, Jews in St. Pölten held their service in a room of the former Gasser factory which had been fitted to that use. From 1885 till 1913 a building at Schulpromenade (today’s Dr. Karl Renner Promenade, west of the current location) was used as synagogue. From 1888 onwards, the Israelite Religious Community had been aiming at building a new house of prayer; on April 7th 1907, a "Temple Erection Association" was set up.

Detailed building history: from draft concept to inauguration

The Synagogue of St. Pölten is considered one of the most significant sacral building of its days. It was designed by Theodor Schreier together with his co-partner Viktor Postelberg. Theodor Schreier was born in Vienna on December 8th, 1873 and between 1899 and 1906 he worked in an atelier with the Viennese architect Ernst Lindner. In 1943 Schreier was deported to Theresienstadt and died there after May 21st.

Donation list of the "Temple Construction Association"

Donation list of the Temple-Construction-Association from the 21st January 1908 

Expenditure for the construction of the Synagogue

Cost breakdown

Finance of the Synagogue construction: donations of money and goods

Donation breakdown

The lost portrait of the Emperor

In August 1913 the Israelite Religious Community discarded the original plan to put up a bust of the Emperor at the ante-room of the Synagogue. Instead, the painter Emil Krausz from Graz, who had spent his childhood in St. Pölten, was commissioned to paint a portrait of Emperor Franz Josef for the price of 50 crowns. This painting was long considered "lost".

Der Novemberpogrom

"Amidst a German town – and St. Pölten is such a town, is it not? – arises an oriental building, curly characters ›decorate‹ its facade and a star arches up above the cupola which we can happily spare in our sky. One day when this building stands without meaning and use – and this will happen soon (it is clear that the Ostmark will stand an example) then it will make room for a ›representative‹ building!? If we succeed in cleaning business life in our town from foreigners, then the exterior will have to follow that example." This blatant summons to destroy the St. Pölten Synagogue was published in St. Pölten’s Anzeiger as early as on November 5th, 1938.

During and after the war

According to plans of the NSDAP, the Synagogue was to be demolished "at costs of the Jewish capital", the cantor’s house was to be renovated and assigned to the party. This scheme was, however, not realised. The SA-Standarte 21 moved into the cantor’s house and applied for the flat of the non-Jewish couple Diete.

The Renovation

In the late 1970ies it was conceivable that no new Jewish Religious Community was to be founded. The IKG Vienna, which had only expenses but no advantages from maintaining the building, made an application for demolition.

The Institute for Jewish History in Austria

In June 1984, the former synagogue was re-opened with a Max Berger collection of Judaica. Since June 1988, the cantor’s house has accommodated the Institute for Jewish History in Austria. The former Synagogue is used for cultural events; an exhibition on the women’s gallery relates to the history of the destroyed Jewish community.  

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