During building works at Malzgasse 16 in Vienna, home to the Machsike Hadass Talmud Torah School, workers discovered cellars filled floor to ceiling with rubble. A Talmud Torah School had existed at the address since the 1870s, with the addition of a synagogue in 1906 and the world’s first Jewish Museum in 1913. During the Nazi pogrom carried out on 9–10 November 1938, the school and the synagogue were ransacked and destroyed, the remains were filled with rubble and remained forgotten.
In a private initiative starting in early 2018, the cellars were freed from some 60 tons of rubble, giving sight to the still remaining structure of the former synagogue. The finds recovered from the rubble tell of the diversity of Jewish life and culture in Austria before these were destroyed in the wake of the ‘Anschluss’ in 1938.
The exhibition at the House of Austrian History takes the findings as a starting point for exploring a place that illustrates and exemplifies the many layers of Jewish-Austrian history. At the same time, the exhibition is part of an ongoing process that began with the excavations carried out by Machsike Hadass. The astonishing finds from the cellars at Malzgasse 16 raise questions about the future of the objects and the place they were discovered.
I have been commissioned to take photos of the cellars and the found objects from the former synagogue by the House of Austrian History.