The graves of Jewish families can be found in the Jewish section of the municipal Western Cemetery. The history of Innsbruck’s Jewish population, in all its diversity, can be read there. Jews have been buried there since 1864. It is also the new resting place for the old graves that were moved here from the old Jewish cemetery, the so-called Judenbühel or Jews’ Hill. A weathered gravestone with a barely legible Hebrew epitaph probably marks the oldest surviving grave. Along the wall to the north lie the Jewish soldiers from all parts of the Monarchy who died in Tyrol during the First World War. A memorial erected in 1925 is dedicated to six Innsbruck Jews who lost their lives in this war. The grave of Wilhelm Dannhauser, the founder of the Innsbruck Jewish Community, can be found near the south wall. A plaque on the east wall commemorates the victims of the Shoah (Holocaust). Three burial plots in the cemetery are the graves of the “old” Jewish Community. They include the final resting place of Rabbi Josef Link, of political victims such as David Janaszewicz and Jakob Justman, who were executed by the Gestapo as leaders of a Polish resistance group, of refugees (displaced persons), and of Jews who moved to Tyrol or returned here. Some grave markers also list names of relatives who were Holocaust victims. Some graves are of artistic interest: The grave of Max Stern, with its imitation-classical female figure and column of white marble, and that of Otto Grünmandl, whose gravestone bears an art-nouveau (Jugendstil) relief. When the Südring (one of Innsbruck’s main traffic arteries, adjacent to the cemetery) was broadened in 1981, numerous graves had to be completely removed or moved to a different location. Those names are commemorated on a bronze plaque on the south wall.
Judenbühel – Jews’ Hill
The location of the old Jewish cemetery, on the southwest slope of the so-called Jews’ Hill a few minutes’ walk east of the Alpine zoo, is still recognizable today. Jews were interred here beginning at the end of the 16th century. Today, the Jews’ Hill is full of people taking walks and children playing. However, when this burial site was founded, the Jew’s Hill was still a remote location far outside the town limits. Wilhelm Dannhauser called it a “very undignified site that is nearly inaccessible in winter.” In 1861, the cemetery was defiled twice when grave markers were torn out of the ground. But even the new Jewish cemetery was not safe from this type of attack: One hundred years later, during the “Eichmann trial” in 1961, two medical students, members of the Brixia and Suevia fraternities, pushed over several grave stones.
Around the mid-1990s, archaeologist Michael Guggenberger and historian Martin Achrainer searched for evidence of the cemetery at the Judenbühel. They found mortar, plaster and a marble splinter, and from this information and the terrain profile they drew conclusions about the location.
In the spring of 2007, scientific research into the old Jewish cemetery at the Judenbühel began – stimulated by the former bishop Dr. Reinhold Stecher and supported by the city of Innsbruck.
In close cooperation with the Jewish Community for Tyrol and Vorarlberg, Guggenberger and historian Niko Hofinger began digging into the secrets of the burial sites. Thanks to their archaeological research, the exact course and nature of the cemetery wall and the access to the cemetery area were clarified and documented.
In the summer of 2009, the area along the original course of the wall was newly fenced and thus made visible. The memorial was supplemented by a memorial and information board. It was inaugurated on July 16, 2009 by Austria’s Chief Rabbi Paul Chaim Eisenberg in the presence of former Bishop Reinhold Stecher and Bishop Manfred Scheuer.
The burial records of Innsbruck’s West Cemetery are still well-preserved in their entirety. They are currently being transcribed on behalf of the Jewish Community. If you have questions concerning a grave or a funeral, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
(in German): Thomas Albrich (Ed.): Judenbichl – the Jewish Cemeteries of Innsbruck