Our Expelled Neigbours (Top Citizen Science Project)

Jews in Central Lower Austria – Research and Commemorative Culture

The census of 1910 registered 921 people in St. Pölten and Central Lower Austria – the catchment area of the Jewish Religious Community (IKG) St. Pölten – professing themselves as Jews. National Socialists, however, also defined those people as „Jewish“ who had three Jewish grandparents. All of these were forced to “resettle” from St. Pölten to Vienna in June 1940. 371 of them did not manage to escape in time, they were murdered in camps and ghettos.

In due course of the basis project „De-registered. The Forced Displacement of the St. Pölten Jews to Collection Flats in Vienna, 1938-42” students and the team of historians researched the orders of the NS-authorities, the process of displacement and the forced co-living in these crowded flats. Centered around the thought that a sudden de-registration as well as the moving in of several people into one singe flat would not remain unnoticed by neighbours, “citizen scientists” are to research the fate of the Jewish population within their personal social sphere.

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Financing: |BMWFW|

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The Citizen Scientists should look for objects, photos, documents, letters, memoirs and passed-down statements and should put them into context as well as interpret them together with historians. Monthly public workshops in “Bildungshaus St. Hippolyt” in St. Pölten offer the opportunity to bring along materials and analyse them with historians. When stating their identity, the participants can publish and discuss their contributions in a moderated blog. A general introduction into the Jewish history of Lower Austria, into the methods of Oral History and the complex difficulties of recollection and of collective memory will ensure that the participants’ contributions have a historical and methodological basis.

Jewish life in the IKG St. Pölten and its destruction have already been researched in numerous projects; the most important results have been made available on the website “Juden in St. Pölten. Memorbuch” (Jews in St. Pölten, Memory book; see: |www.juden-in-st-poelten.at|). Important fundamentals and aspects that can only be supplemented by a Citizen Science-cooperation with engaged/interested locals, though, are still missing. It is therefore the aim of the present project to unlock sources and information which are difficult to access by historians: autobiographic sources from former non-Jewish neighbours and acquaintances, private business documents, association documents, and, above all, information on communication within families. The various aspects of Christian-Jewish coexistence before the war – neighbourhood, friendship, school, clubs, professional and everyday life – the violence during National Socialism and possible continuations of relationships after 1945 are the research topics of this project.

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Carnival Parade in front of the house of Alexander Fürchtgott, Prinzersdorf 1, about 1925 (Injoest)