Jewish Cemetery, Zawiercie
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The Jewish cemetery in Kromołów is one of the largest, oldest and best-preserved sites of this kind in the entire region. Another important feature of the complex - a simple, traditional Jewish cemetery with rows of matzevot facing the east, containing more than 900 headstones and matzevot (some of them dating back to the 18th century) - are the preserved, original auxiliary buildings, including one of the few surviving Jewish funeral homes in the region as well as the cemetery watchman’s house.

History

According to the existing records, Jews most likely began their settlement of Kromołów the 17th century, with the surviving cemetery on Piaskowa street being in use in the first half of the 18th century, as evidenced by the oldest surviving matzevah, dating back to 1730. In the 19th century, the Jewish community in Kromołów was part of the Lelów qahal and consisted of more than one thousand individuals residing mostly in Kromołów, Zawiercie, Rokitno Szlacheckie and Poręba Mrzygłodzka. In 1901, the Jewish Synagogue District was moved from Kromołów to the rapidly developing town of Zawiercie. Ten years later, a separate Jewish cemetery was opened in Zawiercie, on Daszyńskiego street, leading to a significant decline in the number of burials in the Kromołów cemetery. The most recent burial is believed to have taken place there in 1942.

The site of the cemetery, founded in the 18th century, was extended on several occasions. In the 1920s, the funds donated by Jakub J. Löwenstein allowed for the construction of a small funeral home and a watchman’s house in the eastern part of the cemetery, in the vicinity of the entrance gate, with the entire site being surrounded by a surviving perimeter wall. At the same time, in the south-western part of the necropolis, a small war cemetery was formed in 1926, dedicated to the soldiers who lost their lives in the area around Kromołów during World War I.

In 1992, at the initiative of the Katowice Jewish Community Council, clean-up and renovation works were performed on the site, while a new gate was erected one year later.

Description

The cemetery is located in the southern part of Kromołów, between Piaskowa street on one side and Żniwna and Zbożowa streets on the other. Designed on a rectangular plan, the site of the necropolis is also home to a war cemetery located in the south-western part thereof. The entire necropolis is surrounded by an old perimeter wall made of concrete. The cemetery entrance, located on the northern side of the necropolis, i.e. on Piaskowa street, is flanked by a pair of buildings erected in the 1920s. The funeral home, positioned on the western side of the entrance gate, is a small, single-storey cuboid structure covered with a pyramid hipped roof. Inside, there is a stone slab where bodies would be washed and prepared for burial, as well as a marble plaque with inscribed words of prayer in Yiddish. The building on the eastern side of the gate was initially conceived as a house of the watchman and a storage facility. This single-storey brick building, designed on a rectangular floor plan, is covered with a hip roof, with the entrance door and windows facing Piaskowa street.

The cemetery is characterised by a traditional layout of graves, arranged in regular rows, with the matzevot all facing east. Despite the passage of time, the layout of the cemetery has retained its clarity. The number of surviving headstones is about 920, with the stone matzevot and grave markers dating back to the 18th and 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, their height and overall appearance being highly diverse. Most matzevot are topped with semicircular arches, with a few featuring a stepped or rectangular outline. Some of the headstones feature much more ornate, elaborate designs. The oldest surviving matzevah dates back to the year 1730. Ruins of an ohel - a brick tomb of the tzadik Izrael Lejb Gancwajch from Kromołów - can still be seen in the southern part of the cemetery.

Restricted access to the site. The keys to the gate are made available by the watchman.

compiled by Agnieszka Olczyk, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Katowice, 12-02-2015.

Bibliography

  • Cemetery record sheet - Cmentarz żydowski, kirkut [w Zawierciu - Kromołowie], Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Katowice.
  • Katalog zabytków sztuki w Polsce, Vol. VI, woj. katowickie, issue 15: Powiat zawierciański, I. Rejduch-Samkowa, J. Samek (eds.), Warsaw 1962, pp. 55-56.
  • Monografia Zawiercia, Z. Jagodziński (ed.), Zawiercie 2003, pp. 149-150.
  • Rejduch-Samkowa I., Żydowski cmentarz w Kromołowie, Spotkania z Zabytkami no. 3-4, 1985, p. 108.
  • Walerjański D., Cmentarze żydowskie w województwie katowickim - historia, stan zachowania, problemy ochrony, Ochrona Zabytków no. 3, 1998, pp. 246-257.
  • Walerjański D., Zapisane w kamieniu - zachowane zabytki żydowskie w województwie śląskim, in: Zabytki kultury żydowskiej w województwie śląskim, G. Bożek (ed.), Katowice 2007, pp. 14-26

General information

  • Type: Jewish cemetery
  • Chronology: 1. poł. XVIII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Piaskowa , Zawiercie
  • Location: Voivodeship śląskie, district zawierciański, commune Zawiercie
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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