Research in Vienna

For the global seminar in Vienna, our independent work focuses on a space or building that each student gets to choose in Vienna that correlates to the readings done in class. Part of the course deals with anti-semitism in Vienna in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; Freud was hampered in his professional pursuits by being Jewish, and many notable intellectual elites in Vienna like Stefan Zweig were Jews as well. I chose to research Jewish life in Vienna at this time to understand the role Judaism played for these Jewish intellectuals, and to discover the extent of anti-semitism. The space I study is the Stadttempel, built in 1826, that is located in the Innere Stadt 1st district. The Stadttempel, or the city temple, is the main synagogue of Vienna and is the only remaining synagogue from World War II. Why the Stadttempel survived can still be seen today: its location is squeezed in between housing complexes, resulting out of a rule banning synagogues from having facades that consequently caused the synagogue to exist in a standard building complex, which ironically made it impossible to demolish the synagogue without inflicting damage to neighboring buildings. Inside the building though, rests a beautiful synagogue created by the Jewish elite. The synagogue captures a theme summarizing Jewish experience as a repressed and hampered life of restricted opportunity as evident by the synagogue’s forced plain looking facade that conceals and limits its true character inside. While researching has been illuminating from an historical perspective, it has also been interesting to use the synagogue as a way to understand the current Jewish community in Vienna in relation to Jews in the past, which will likely be the focus of my research paper.