A description of the first Jewish cemetery of 1510 is not well known. When Jews returned to the city in the mid-17th century, what they did first was determine the location of the cemetery. It was created on the west of the city, near the road to Kostrzyn. The cemetery was first mentioned in 1723, the oldest gravestone which survived dates back to 1759 (Mordechaj Nojen)[1.1]. Before the war the cemetery was situated on the north of Sonnenweg Street, today it is Gwiazdzista street, in the Sloneczne district. [see street names and plan of Gorzow no. 1] From 23 February 2006 the Jewish cemetery of Gorzow was entered into the national register of historic monuments (no. L – 194A) and its the only Jewish building with two funeral houses that have survived. [see illustration no. 13]

The area of the cemetery is 0,72 ha and it is partly situated on the south slope of the hill, which is furrowed with a gorge. In the topographical position the main alley survived, planted on both sides were chestnut trees. The layout of certain plots and paths is also readable. [see illustrations no. 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18] In the years 1815-1835, the cemetery was surrounded by walls and a section of the wall has survived until today[1.2]. Infrastructure near the cemetery appeared. Near the cemetery’s wall, gravestones of wealthy Jewish family survived (10 gravestones). [see illustrations no. 19, 20, 21 and 22] Because of the devastation taking place after the war, only several gravestones survived: 36 lying matzevas, 23 broken matzevas, 10 standing matzevas and 92 gravestones’ frames.

In the mid-19th century, the Jewish funeral parlor of non-plastered brick was built and has survived until today.. Despite the changes in the facade, the frieze of the Stars of David survived. The building’s corners are topped with turrets with a spire. Those ornaments allude with a form to those on the synagogue in Gorzow. [see illustrations no. 23 and 24] In 1927, in unspecified circumstances, a second funeral house was built, close to the first one. It was to be cubic in form, however today after a few changes it is difficult to say that this was the case. [see illustration no. 25]

In January of 1942, there was an attempt to close the Jewish cemetery. One of Gorzow’s companies requested that the municipality grant permission to buy gravestones. The municipality did not agree as it claimed not to be the owner of the cemetery. It was suggested to ask Max Koschminsky - the intermediary of Jewish Affairs who was responsible for the cemetery[1.3]. No one knows how the case finished. Koschminsky, one of the last Jews from Gorzow, on 24/25 August 1942, was deported to the east, to the temporary camp Tilsit-Königsberg. The cemetery survived the war and was in good condition, but later, it started to deteriorate.

After 1945, the cemetery was systematically devastated. It served as a rubbish tip for allotment holders and as a quarry for thieves of granite and marble. Its close proximity to a school in the area may have also been a factor in its devesation. The biggest damage was done in the 1980s. Funeral houses were transformed into workshops. Until the 1920s, they belonged to the Renovation and School Building Factory, later to the private company „Hydromel”.

In 1993, there were attempts to save the cemetery and bushes and self-seeders were cut out. A conservator commissioned to translate epitaphs from 56 surviving matzevas. In 1999, thanks to the financial help of Germans from Gorzow and funds from PHARE the cemetery was renovated. A lapidary was created, the cemetery gate was restored into which a marble plaque was set, the kaddish was also renovated. [see illustrations no.26, 27 and 28] Joachim Salomonski-Hermann, a Jew from Gorzow participated in the celebrations of 16 June 2000. However, later on, the cemetery was forgotten. The cemetery became the place of trysts and a playground for children. The historic family gravestones were drawn with graffiti. [see illustrations no. 19, 22, 26 and 27] The process of cemetery devastation was in progress. As a result of media pressure, on May 2008 the authorities removed graffiti from gravestones. The process of taking over the cemetery by the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage is in progress.

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Footnotes

  • [1.1] [10] J. Zysnarski, Encyklopedia Gorzowa…., p. 95. It is assumed that the last burial took place in 1936. The cemetery was closed in 1942.
  • [1.2] Centrum Judaicum Archive in Berlin (=CJA), 1,75 A La 1, nr 32, #4615, ark. 1-101.
  • [1.3] State Archives in Gorzow Wlkp. (=APG), catalogue number 6643, p. 48.