Safov, a town south of Znojmo on the Greenway, is renowned for its many wine cellars, located along three central streets. The town was founded in 1670 by Jewish refugees who had been expelled from Weitersfeld and Pulkau, towns in nearby Lower Austria. The original name of the town was Schaffa. Count Maximillian Starhemberg, the feudal landowner, willingly granted asylum to these refugees, allowing them to settle on lands that had been desolate since their destruction by the Swedes in 1645, during the Thirty Years’ War.

Route Distance Links  
Slavonice to Safov and Znojmo 78 km map/GPX cue sheet
Znojmo to Mikulov and Valtice 80 km map/GPX cue sheet

Jewishgen, a website that records Jewish life before the Holocaust, reports that “the Jewish community of Safov remained under the protection of the feudal landowner until 1848. During these years the Jews were allowed to organize their own community councils, and these remained in existence until 1919. Also, starting in 1848, permission was granted for 15 Jewish dwellings to be erected within the Christian community. At the same time similar provisions were approved in a number of neighboring communities. A testimonial to the political freedom granted to the Jews is the school and council chambers that were erected in 1869. When first established in 1800, the school had only a single grade. By 1848 it had expanded to two grades and, after the passage of the compulsory education act in 1869, a third grade was added.

“Jewishgen displays several pictures of old Safov on its website:

In 1938, at the time of the Anschluss of Germany and Austria, there were still 52 Jews living in Schaffa. About one third of these emigrated abroad, while the rest were deported in 1939. Today, only traces of Safov’s Jewish past remain. John Schaffa reports, “When I visited Safov in 1992, few traces of the former Jewish community remained to be seen. Only a handful of houses remained standing, as well as one building that I was told had once been the synagogue. Though there was no protective perimeter to prevent entry, the cemetery had not been vandalized and appeared comparatively well cared for. I was told that a group of Dutch students* come periodically to maintain it. I could not discover the connection that these students may have to Safov.”

A subsequent visitor to Safov reported that cemetery work was being performed, not by Dutch students, but by a group of Austrians from Langau (directly across the unguarded border from Safov). In addition, he wrote that the priest in Langau, Father Andreas, maintains a house in Safov for use as a school, and that the priest has twice cleared the cemetery. Father Andreas has been involved in writing a book (in German) about the town, supplemented with research from the Wiesenthal Center in Vienna.

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