Jewish Cemetery, Orla
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The Jewish cemetery in Koźmin is one of the largest and best-preserved Jewish cemeteries in Greater Poland. The most notable feature is the presence of more than 450 matzevot from both the 19th and the 20th century which have been preserved in a very good condition. The oldest surviving matzevah - the grave of Yehudah - dates back to 1806. The last man to have been buried in the Jewish cemetery was one Nathan Mośkiewicz, who died in 1969. His headstone is the only one with an inscription in Polish.

History

The first Jewish cemetery in Koźmin was established towards the end of the 18th century, with the burials taking place around the local synagogue. Due to the substantial increase in population, Kazimierz Nestor Sapieha, the owner of the town of Koźmin in years 1772 - 1791, decided to allocate a piece of land to the local Jewish population so that they could establish a new cemetery near the town, close to the village of Orla, in the forest known as Koszewiec. Meanwhile, the old cemetery was liquidated in 1872, with the bodies being exhumed and moved to a mass sepulchre in the new burial ground. The first burial in the new cemetery took place in 1801. The people who found their final resting place here included the rabbi Salomon Meir Radt, who died in 1867, the eminent Hebrew language and culture expert Isaak Goldblum, the renowned Talmud scholar Abraham Lippmann as well as Abraham Silberstein, who taught at the local Jewish school, and the chairmen of the Jewish community council - Abraham Mathias and Abraham Horwitz. During the third or fourth quarter of the 19th century, a brick house was erected south of the cemetery, intended for the local undertaker. During World War II, the cemetery was vandalised, with a great quantity of metal plaques, medallions, chains and lamp posts being removed from the site. During the 1950s, the funeral home located in the western part of the cemetery was demolished. In the 1990s, various works were performed in order to bring the cemetery back to a presentable state, with a new, metal fence being erected around the site.

Description

The cemetery was designed on a rectangular, almost square plan, its dimensions being about 80 x 70 metres. Its overall layout is that of a frequently seen type which features tightly clustered matzevot forming dense rows positioned close to one another. It is only in the north-eastern part - the site of children’s graves - where more space would be left between the matzevot, although they still followed a certain prearranged pattern. The systematic layout and the decision to leave very little space between the graves are both characteristic of the period between the late 19th century and the early 20th century, during which, as the local community developed, there was simply not enough space for subsequent burials, especially since, according to Jewish traditions, a grave is inviolable and may not be used as a resting place for more than one person. The appearance of the headstones is very diverse, as is the size thereof - from the small headstones standing above children’s graves, which are just a few dozen centimetres in height, to certain more lavish examples which are the size of an adult man. Most of the matzevot are made of sandstone and feature lavish outlines and detailing. The headstones dating back to the late 19th century as well as from years 1900-1939 often take the form of granite obelisks, made at various stonemason’s workshops in Wrocław. The cemetery is overgrown with trees and circumscribed by a metal fence; the gate leading into the graveyard is designed to symbolise the menorah.

The site is accessible to visitors.

compiled by Beata Marzęta, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Poznan, 17-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Przemysław Burchard: Pamiątki i zabytki kultury żydowskiej w Polsce. Warszawa: 1990, s. 102.
  • Monografia Koźmina Wielkopolskiego i okolicy, red. M. Pietrowski, A.Wędzki, Koźmin Wlkp 2006, s. 625-640.
  • Miejsca i obiekty kultu w Wielkopolsce. Prahistoryczne, chrześcijańskie i judaistyczne, Poznań 1996, s. 173

General information

  • Type: Jewish cemetery
  • Chronology: 1801 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Orla
  • Location: Voivodeship wielkopolskie, district krotoszyński, commune Koźmin Wielkopolski - obszar wiejski
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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