If stones could speak, they would sometimes have interesting things to tell us; it only comes down to listening to them properly. Whoever, for example, reads the inscriptions in old Jewish cemeteries with attentive eyes, will often be surprised by how, alongside many standard formulas, there are many biographical and culturally and historically intereresting details to be gleaned. Diverse are the fates of those who found their resting place in the Währinger Cemetery in Vienna. We are not only interested in the affluence of blessed financiers, whose monuments attest to now-faded glory, but also those who lived their lives in another fashion. The case of the Broda family is certainly a good example. In 1830, the head of this family, Isaias Broda from Nikolsburg,1 was found murdered at the age of 34, in the then-suburb of Wieden. Hardship and misfortune followed his surviving family and a few months later, a son was born named after the father, only to die three years later. The widow pulled herself through and raised their oldest son Baruch, who also died at the age of 23, and burdened by many tragedies, his mother followed, only 49 years old. Her tombstone shows, through beautiful Hebrew verses, the courage and soulfulness with which this woman took on the struggle until it laid her down.
As the victims of the battle against overpowering circumstances of the new and fast-paced life in the big city, one can find here a pretty high number of suicide cases, whose tombstone inscriptions differ from the others mostly only through the slightly greater brevity and through the particularly pronounced wish that the deceased will be forgiven for their sins. Many of these victims also, naturally, went through the crisis of the [eighteen] seventies.
Interesting from an entirely different perspective are many wanderers, such as, for example, a man from the Steiermark region, by the name of Georg Abraham A., who was a haberdashery merchant and died in Vienna at the age 45, or the Jewish wife of a well-known Viennese chimney sweep, who was born in Burgenland. The Jewish martyrs of [the revolution of] March 1848 were not buried in the Währinger cemetery, but the graves of many victims of the street battles of October 1848 can be found here, along with those of a number of soldiers who died in the wars of the fifties and sixties. There are also a number of researchers and world travelers in this graveyard, for example the scholar Salomon Reinmann, who lived for many years in Cochinchina [French Vietnam] and carried out language studies with the natives there, or Captain Benjamin Solomon Spitzer, who as a child of the Pressburg2 Ghetto traveled at a young age to the new world and became a ship captain, in which capacity he sailed several times around the globe. During a visit to the old homeland, he died in Vienna. A third representative of this type was the doctor of the frigate "Novara," Dr. Eduard Schwarz, who took part in the well-known around-the-world sail and led the medical research part of the research mission.
The most shocking case is the fate of the father, who on the wedding day of his only daughter, while the guests were gathering under the chuppah3 at his Döblinger Villa, collapsed from a stroke. Something similar happened to a woman, who died suddenly beside the cradle of her grandchild, and on whose tombstone is proclaimed:
Called upon from afar, from motherly love, from faith in God,she came with a joyous heart to see the child of her child;but that long-awaited joy was not granted to her.The child saw the light, and she parted to eternal peace.