The Jewish cemetery in Trzciel is one of the most picturesquely situated cemeteries in the Lubusz region. The first mention of it comes from 1745. It is located around 1,5 km south of Trzciel on the way to Jabłonki. [see plan of Trzciel No 1] The cemetery is on a hill, which descends to the Jewish lake (German – Judensee, Urasee) on the side of its northern slope [see illustration No 8 and 9]. It is about 0,65 hectare in size. The oldest preserved gravestone belongs to Jehuda Leiba and it dates back to 1759.

At present there are two types of graves preserved: older ones, located on the top of the hill, made from field stones and erratic blocks, having only Hebrew inscriptions, and which are dated mainly for the second half of the 18th century. [see illustration No 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14] Newer ones, made from sandstone, are located closer to the road, on the eastern side of the hill. These matzevot mainly come from the years 1880-1900 and they present epitaphs in Hebrew and German. Economical symbolism in this group of matzevot has a universal character and suggests that Jews who were buried here had been supporters of the Reform trend in Judaism. The dominating symbol is a lilly and there are also plant decorations, butterflies and the eye of providence. [see illustration No 15, 16, 17 and 18] There are also gravestones with the symbols of priests (Kohen) and Levites.

What is characteristic is the lack of matzevot made from hard stone (from marble or granite). These were partly stolen after World War II and around 30-40 broken blocks still lie at the foot of the western slope of the hill. This all indicates that they were prepared for transportation, which either did not happen or the thieves settled for only the most valuable marble. [see illustrations No 19 and 20]

In the National Archive in Zielona Góra there is a fragmentary correspondence concerning the closing down of the cemetery. The documents date back to 1972 and their exchange is dealt with by the Presidium of the County National Council in Międzyrzecze and the Presidium of the Province of the National Council in Zielona Góra[1.1]. The document written by the Presidium of the Province of the National Council in Zielona Góra dated 24th January 1972 shows that not all legal conditions were fulfilled with respect to the decision about the liquidation of the cemetery[1.2]. The lack of further correspondence limits careful examination of the matter. Nevertheless, the cemetery survived in its fundamental part and the inventorying conducted in 1995 on the initiative of the Province conservator, revealed the existence of 58 standing gravestones. All standing gravestones were photographed and the epitaphs engraved on them were translated into Polish.

In summer 2001 a group of 50 students from Poland, Germany, Israel and the USA led by Jan Jagielski from the Jewish Historical Institute worked on the cemetery. The works had a maintenance character. They erected an information plaque, which was shortly destroyed. It was erected again with information in Polish, German and Hebrew for visitors to the cemetery grounds. [see illustration No 9] Apart from the buildings of the synagogue and the school, the Jewish cemetery in Trzciel is the most meaningful trace of several hundred years’ presence of Jews in this region. 

 

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Footnotes
  • [1.1] Trzeciel belonged to Zielona Góra Province in 1972.
  • [1.2] National Archive in Zielona Góra, Files PWRN, GKM-III-65/3/72.