Salzburg area

ORT’s Central School in Salzburg was the first post-war vocational training establishment in Austria.  It opened in February 1947 and offered vocational training to over 13,000 Jews, mainly from Hungary and Poland, living in the three permanent and five transit camps in and around Salzburg.The constant movement of DPs to and from the camps made any establishment of long-term courses virtually impossible. Nonetheless, in mid-1947 the school in Salzburg had 350 pupils attending workshops in locksmith training, auto mechanics, electro-engineering, radio technology, carpentry, cutting out of men’s and women’s garments, dressmaking, corset-making, millinery, dental mechanics and nurse's training. The courses lasted six to nine months and the school employed fifty instructors. Eighty per cent of the Salzburg area DPs saw Palestine as their ultimate destination, thus these courses played a major part in their preparation for emigration.

An annex to the main ORT school in Salzburg was from the beginning of 1948 functioning in the Beth Bialik transit camp. Beth Bialik was located in the town of Salzburg which from May 1949 was serving as a ‘collection point’ for those willing to emigrate to Israel.The camp housed over 2,000 DPs.  Despite the transitory character of the Beth Bialik  its inhabitants managed to organize various forms of Jewish communal and cultural life. In 1948 the DPs put on a performance of ‘Der Dybbuk’ in Yiddish. ORT school has been installed in this camp in order to facilitate their emigration.

Another school in the Salzburg area was located in Riedenburg camp. The camp  had 2500 inhabitants and was functioning until March 1949. The ORT school in the camp was located in a former brewery. It started with 100 students attending courses in metal work, wood work, dressmaking and electrical technology. Later other classes were added including, in November 1947, a course for nurses in the camp’s hospital. There was also a course in basic mathematics offered to younger students who could not attend schools during the war. After the majority of the camps inhabitants emigrated, the school was transferred to Hallein, a DP camp was located in a small town twenty miles from Salzburg. During the war Hallein was a site of the work camp annex to the Dachau concentration camp and after  the war became a permanent DP center. The vast majority of the camps inhabitants were Hungarian Jews.

 ORT’s work in the Hallein started in mid 1947. The school was based in two large barracks and soon after opening trained 100 students in trouser making, dressmaking, lingerie making, electrical technology and  radio technology as well as confectionery baking, beautician training and upholstery. The school had an enrolment of over 200 students.

In 1948, as other camps started closing, Hallein became as an Austrian collection point for those wanting to emigrate to countries other than Israel, mainly Canada and USA. At that point ORT was also running in the camp English language classes. In November 1949 ORT Bulletin reported that: ‘because of the increase in students at Hallein, it has been necessary to improve the buildings. The barracks have been better adopted the needs of the courses, walls have been papered and the heavy machinery has been solidly cemented. Absenteeism at this school has reached a low of two per cent.’[1]

In 1954 after the closing of Hallein, its residents and the ORT language courses were transferred to Asten - a transit camp, which catered mainly for non-Jewish DPs.

[1] World ORT Archive: Ort Bulletin vol III no.3 (November 1949) p.3