Part Four: Jewish Cemeteries
16. Szeroka Street Jewish Cemetery
15th or early 16th century (?)
In the northern part of Szeroka Street is a small green square surrounded by a fence with the motifs of menorahs. It could have been the site of the oldest Jewish cemetery in Kazimierz, although most sources mention this only hesitantly. Before World War Two it was surrounded by a high wall and was used as the burial site of Jews who had committed suicide.
On the southern side of the square is a stone monument with a commemorative plaque dedicated 65,000 Polish Jews from Kraków and its environs killed by the Nazis during World War Two. It was erected by the Nissenbaum Family Foundation, which attempts to preserve traces of Jewish heritage in Poland.
17. Old Jewish Cemetery / Remah (Remuh) Cemetery
1533-1552; last burials – c. 1850
This cemetery, located behind the Remah (Remuh) Synagogue, was established when the old Jewish cemetery in the northern part of Szeroka Street had become full. The land was bought in the 1530s, and the earliest tombstones are from the early 1550s.
Many notable Jewish individuals of Kraków are buried here, such as rabbis Moses Isserles and Nathan Nata Spira. Many of the tombstones are of great artistic value.
The cemetery was officially closed by the Austrian authorities in 1800. The last burials took place in around 1850.
During World War Two, the cemetery was almost entirely destroyed by the Nazis. Only a few tombstones remained intact, including that of rabbi Moses Isserles. After the war, many tombstones were returned and hundreds more were discovered during archaeological excavations. Fragments of tombstones have been built into a cemetery wall.
18. New Jewish Cemetery
1800; enlargement – 1836
The New Jewish Cemetery of Kraków was established after the closure of the old cemetery in 1800 on a plot of land bought from the Augustinian monks. It was enlarged in 1836. The cemetery contains around ten thousand graves. The oldest surviving tombs are from 1809.
The funerary chapel is from 1902-1903 (designed by Władysław Kleinberger).
It was the main Jewish cemetery of Kraków until 1932, when burials were directed to two new cemeteries south of the Krakus Mound. The latter cemeteries were destroyed during World War Two, when the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp was built on their site. Nazis also destroyed the New Jewish Cemetery, using its tombstones as construction material or selling them to masons.
After the war, many tombstones discovered from the Płaszów camp site were reinstalled at the New Cemetery. Later the cemetery was thoroughly restored. One finds many monuments commemorating the death of Jews killed in the Holocaust here.