Dec 2000 Journal

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Hohenems Jewish Museum

In 1931, when Theodor Elkan, leader of the Jewish Culture Forum, said: “As you see, we are only a small Gemeinde, which lives from its memories”, there were fewer than twenty men and women of the Jewish faith in Hohenems in the Austrian province of Vorarlberg. After the Anschluss in March 1938, all cultural activities of the Jewish community were dissolved by the Nazis. Some Jews escaped. Others, including Theodor Elkan and his wife Helene, were deported to concentration camps and killed.

The neutral street names such as Schweizer Strasse, changed in 1938, did not revert to their original Jewish names in 1945. The synagogue, which survived the war almost unscathed, was rebuilt as a fire station.

When the Villa Heimann-Rosenthal came into the possession of the town of Hohenems and a use was sought for the building, discussions soon gave rise to the foundation of a Jewish Museum. The Museum gives a full account of the historical and cultural life of Hohenems’ Jews. The permanent exhibition stretches over many rooms. Visitors have access to over 1,500 books and many periodicals, videos and archives. Opening hours are from 10.00-17.00 (except Mondays), with guided tours by prior appointment. For further details contact Jewish Museum, Schweizer Strasse 5, Hohenems, Vorarlberg, Austria. Telephone: 0043 5576 3989.                                       
Gerald Holm

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