Burial book could unlock secrets of Austrian Jewish community

The descendants of Jews who lived in the Austrian Burgenland region before the Holocaust may now be able to discover where their relatives were buried, thanks to newly unearthed funeral records.

The cemetery in the market town of Deutschkreutz in eastern Austria was destroyed by the Nazis and until now it was believed that all records had been lost. Some 1,500 people were buried in the cemetery, and before the Holocaust the town was home to a 1,000-strong Jewish community. It was counted as one of the "Seven Kehilloth" of Burgenland; towns known for being the homes of esteemed rabbis and yeshivot.

A book of records has now been found and, although it does not detail the specific locations of where each person was buried, it has been hailed as an important discovery. It may also enable the Austrian Jewish community to arrange for the reconstruction of the cemetery, seven decades after it was destroyed.

"When you consider that there are 8,000 Jewish graves in Burgenland, and that hardly any of the cemeteries has proper records, a book of such records can tell us a lot," said Johannes Reiss from the Eisenstadt Jewish Museum.

Last updated: 5:15pm, April 25 2012