Book of the dead offers hope to Jewish families

By John Leo-Moberg

A book containing the records of people buried in the Jewish cemetery in the Austrian Deutschkreutz community may finally let families know where their ancestors were put to rest.

All records were lost after the cemetery was destroyed by the Nazis in the 1940s.

But the Jewish cemetery in Deutschkreutz should now be able to be reconstructed after the discovery of a copy of the book of funeral records, listing every row of graves and their numbers.

Before the reign of the Nazis, around a thousand Jews lived in Deutschkreuz – and their cemetery held over 1,500 dead. Now, these unidentified graves may be rebuilt to what they once were. According to “Misrachi Österreich” – an organisation for Jewish people in Austria – determining the exact locations of the graves was impossible before the book was found.

Johannes Reiss from the Jewish Museum in Eisenstadt believes that the book of funeral records is a cultural historical object. He said: “When you consider that there are 8,000 Jewish graves in Burgenland, and that hardly any of the cemeteries have proper records, a book of such records can tell us a lot.”

The locations of individual graves are not provided in the book, and the “Misrachi Österreich” try to complete the cemetery by looking for aerial photographs and other documents concerning the cemetery planning.