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Jewish cemetery in Zduńska Wola

Heritage Sites – Cemeteries
Polska / łódzkie

A two hectares Jewish cemetery in Zduńska Wola was established in 1826 at Kacza Street. It was the burial place of Orthodox, Conservative and Progressive Jews. Today, the necropolis is not used to burry people.

The cemetery is located far from the town center and one can reach it turning off the highway (Sieradzka Street). Both the new and old gates are closed and the keys belong to social workers who take care of the cemetery Elżbieta Bartsch and Kamila Klauzińska as well as the YACHAD Historical Society. It is surrounded by a partially damaged wall. A new gate being a true copy of the first one was constructed in 2007. More that half of the surviving tombstones do not stand upright or have been broken. A lot of gravestones have been removed and their current location is unknown. According to the old inhabitants of Zduńska Wola, their neighbors used the matzevas after the war as foundations of their houses. The cemetery has been recently (October 2001) divided into sections.

The gravestones come from the 19th and 20th centuries and are made of granite, limestone and sandstone. There are also some fragments made of white marble, the gravestones have engraved inscriptions or are smooth with decorative convex reliefs. The matzevas with colorful inscriptions are rare in Poland and they can be found just in the cemetery in Zduńska Wola. Traces of paint are still visible on some sandstone matzevas, or on some pieces of the rocks. In general consciousness the image of Jewish cemeteries is not associated with colorfulness, yet the majority of the matzevas were polychromed. The same situation was in the Jewish cemetery in Zduńska Wola and it can be confirmed by old photographs housed in the Museum of the Town’s History and private collections of the Organization of the Former Residents of Zduńska Wola in Israel and Diaspora. One can see colorful gravestones in them, so the possibility that the paint comes from the time when they were built cannot be ruled out. The inscriptions are in Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish and Russian (at least one is in German: Charlotte Rachel PIK, section A, buried in 1926).

On the eastern side, the cemetery neighbors to allotment gardens, while on the western, northern and southern sides there is a housing area.

During World War II the cemetery suffered serious damages and has been gradually devastated over the past twenty years. Today, vandalism poses a real threat to the cemetery, which is more likely to happen since the wall is easy to climb and provides ideal conditions for devastation. One can notice the signs of so called petty vandalism such as a devastated gate, waste and garbage, beer bottles, traces of fire, graffiti on the wall and the monument commemorating Jews who died during the dissolution of the ghetto and many others. One can simply notice that some vandals destroy the matzevas by knocking them over or by braking. Erosion is also a potential but slight factor that impacts the graves and it can be spurred by weather conditions, pollution, but especially by the plants growing abundantly in the cemetery. The roots of the trees, especially of acacia, make the graves burst, which in turn makes the matzevas fall.

Guided tour groups for young people from Israel and from schools in Zduńska Wola, individual tourists from all around the world, as well as local people come here to visit the Jewish cemetery which welcomes about 1,000 people annually.

Cleaning and renovation works are conducted here on a regular basis by the YACHAD Historical Society, Organization of the Former Residents of Zduńska Wola in Israel and thanks to the support of the Zduńska Wola Town Office and County Authority in Zduńska Wola.

Four plaques in Polish, English, Herbrew and Yiddish are placed on the gate and they tell a short history of the cemetery.

 

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