The Jewish cemetery in Cieszowa is located ca. 1.2 km west of the village and ca. 100 m south of the road connecting Cieszowa with Wierzbie. The cemetery is situated on a rectangular plot with reference number 240706 2.0002.AR 1.126 and the area of 3,372 m2.
The cemetery was established in the second half of the 17th century[1.1].
In 1909, Father Karol Urban – parish priest from Sadów, researcher and chronicler – wrote two books: Oberschlesische Heimat and Der Landbote — Lublinitzer Kreis-Kalender, in which he included information about the Jewish cemetery in Cieszowa: “Over the centuries, the development of Jewish life in Cieszowa was evidenced by the synagogue and the rabbi's house. On a hill located ca. one kilometer away from the village, there is a fenced Jewish cemetery. It is much older than the synagogue. Tradition has it that it is six hundred years old”[1.2].
In his book Die juedischen Altertuemer von Cieschowa, Professor Marcus Brann described both the history and the historical features of the Jewish synagogue and the local cemetery. He described the latter as "the most magnificent and the most valuable object" and wrote that "on 20 January 1690, a tax of 17 Silesian thalers was paid for the cemetery." Brann also carried out a thorough review of the matzevot in the cemetery. He was amazed by the dates carved in sandstone. He recalls a matzevah dating back to 1650 and describes in detail a commemorative stone from October 1780 devoted to R. Eljakim Getzes, son of R. Nathan Natas”[1.3].
Brann concluded that the inscriptions on the matzevot referring both to men and women buried in the Jewish cemetery in Cieszowa were very brief and condensed. The researcher wrote that in 1917 there was still a great number of well-preserved matzevot in the cemetery. The same conclusions can be found in the works of the aforementioned Fr. Karol Urban, who in 1907 became the owner of the synagogue and the rabbi's house and assumed partial responsibility for the Jewish cemetery. Towards the end of the 19th century, nearly all Jews had left Cieszowa, and in 1905 there was not even one Jewish person living in the village. In 1911, the synagogue was demolished for unknown reasons, and probably in 1917, as land registry records show, the plot where the buildings used to stand was acquired by new owners. The cemetery, however, still existed. It survived WWI and the interwar period. During WWII, the Jewish cemetery in Cieszowa was spared from destruction and has survived until today nearly untouched. As time was passing by, however,, the matzevot started to lose their beauty and gradually erode[1.4].
In 2002, inhabitants of Cieszowa and firemen from the Voluntary Fire Service tidied up the cemetery. During the cleaning works, Jan Myrcik, a historian from Koszęcin, carried out conservation work on five matzevot.
In the middle of August 2008, a huge whirlwind caused serious damage to the cemetery. Most trees were knocked down. Some matzevot were damaged, while the roots of the uprooted trees destroyed around a dozen graves[1.5]. After those events, the cemetery was partly tidied up and surrounded with a wooden fence. Conifer seedlings were planted on the plot.
Over the area of 1.5 ha, there are 131 preserved tombstones dating back to the 18th and the 19th century. The oldest matzevah can be found on the grave of the daughter of Menachem Menla and wife of Jechiel, who died on 9 June 1780[1.6].
The gravestones are made of sandstone and limestone. Typical ornaments and inscriptions in Hebrew and German can be seen on the flat stone tablets. The entire area is surrounded with a wooden fence. The cemetery's borders are well defined and consistent with the borders from 1939. The entrance is located to the north, where a gate with wooden wicket door has been preserved. The cemetery is visited sporadically. Vandalism is not a serious threat to the cemetery. The area has been partially tidied up, but the damage left by the 2008 whirlwind is still visible.
In 2016, Renata Uszyńska–Gwoźdź compiled a register of all preserved tombstones on the commission of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, thanks to the donation made by Volkmar Schiewe. The register can be found on the website http://www.sztetl.org.pl/gfx/cieszowa_jewish_cemetery.pdf.
- [1.1] Burchard P., Pamiątki i zabytki kultury żydowskiej w Polsce, Warsaw 1990, p. 131.
- [1.2] Quote: Cieszowa: Lubliniec, [in] International Jewish Cemetery Project [online] 01.05.2009, http://www.iajgsjewishcemeteryproject.org/poland/cieszowa.html [Accessed: 08.10.2013].
- [1.3] Quote: Myrcik J., Cmentarz żydowski w Cieszowej, [in] Kirkuty.xip.pl [online] 24.03.2013, http://www.kirkuty.xip.pl/cieszowa.htm [Accessed: 08.10.2013].
- [1.4] Myrcik J., Cmentarz żydowski w Cieszowej [online] http://www.kirkuty.xip.pl/cieszowa.htm [Accessed: 08.12.2013].
- [1.5] Śmierć cmentarza, [in] lubliniec.naszemiasto.pl, [online] 28.11.2008, http://lubliniec.naszemiasto.pl/archiwum/1840986,smierc-cmentarza,id,t.html [Accessed: 08.10.2013].
- [1.6] Uszyńska-Gwoźdź R., Spis macew na cmentarzu żydowskim w Cieszowej [online] http://www.sztetl.org.pl/gfx/cieszowa_jewish_cemetery.pdf [Accessed: 13.06.2016].