Thursday, March 11, 2010

Poland: Abandoned Jewish Cemetery of Przemysl Returned to Jewish Ownership

Poland: Abandoned Jewish Cemetery of Przemysl Returned to Jewish Ownership

(ISJM) Last month (Feb 23) Michael Freund reported in the Jerusalem Post that the long abandoned and neglected "Old" Jewish cemetery of Przemsyl,has been restituted to the ownership of the foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODZ). The site on is still marked by an impressive stone entrance gate. Only a few gravestones from the cemetery have survived (photos) gravestones on the site which dates to the 16th century, it is believed that the burials remain intact, and the Foundation (FODZ) plans to clean the site and protect it. The carved gravestones were removed by the German occupiers of the town during the Second World War. To date, none have been located, but ti is possible that many were reused nearby for pavements and building material and some may be still be found. A second of "New" cemetery still survives in the town. This has hundreds of surviving stones, including post-1945 burials.

In June 2009, Freund participated in the dedication of a memorial plaque on the former Przemysl New Synagogue (1910), known as the Scheinbach synagogue and now used as a public library. At that time he challenged city officials to return the former cemetery.

Przemsyl, which was once a central Polish town, but is now located near the border of Ukraine, was once at town with a thriving pre-Holocaust Jewish population (estimated at 30% of the total). As the cemetery of a major town it also served, according the FODZ researchers nearby communities of Jaroslav, Pruchnik, Kanczuga and Dynow.

the following information comes from the websites of the Cemetery project of the International Jewish Genealogical Society.

OLD CEMETERY: The Jewish homes were founded outside the walls of the city on the road to Nehrybki between the current ul Wandy and ul Rakoczy. This old cemetery was documented first in 1568 in the privilege issued by King Sigismund Augustus and again in 1571 regarding damage. Since in 1638 King Władysław IV gave the Jews the privilege allowing them to use "the synagogue cemetery: and indicating that the cemetery also served the surrounding cities including Jarosławia, Pruchnik, Kańczugi, and Dynów. Five years later the cemetery area was enlarged. Land also was purchased in 1765. An 18th century fence shows in archival records. During WWII, this cemetery was destroyed, its stone gravestones used for making roads and streets including the barracks on ul Mickiewicz. Without care cemetery slipped into oblivion. Before WWII, archival photographs in the Muzeum Narodowego Ziemi Przemyskiej show that the cemetery had a large group of graves from the 16th century, the oldest being that of a woman named Gitel bat Gershon, who died on September 23, 1574 (8 tiszri 5335). In the mid-19th century, the cemetery occupied two hectares and was almost completely filled. The Jewish Community in Przemysl needed a new cemetery.

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