As there was only one Jewish family in Szczecin till 1812 there was no Jewish cemetery in town and the deceased were buried in Gryfin (Greifenhagen) with an expanse of 20 km. On September 1st, 1818 the Prussian minister of local affairs issued a regulation that every Jewish citizen was obliged to take care of the burial place for himself and his family. The Szczecin Community had purchased land for this purpose two years earlier, between the streets Bethanienstraße (nowadays Ojca Beyzyma St.), Henriettenstraße (nowadays M. Gorki St.) and Lamprechtstraße (nowadays J. Soplicy St.)[1.1]. It is assumed that the cemetery was founded in 1816, when the Jewish Association was established (at first it had only 18 members), which was later transformed into a community. Other sources mention 1821[1.2] as the year of founding the cemetery, or even the period between 1850 and 1860[1.3]. The cemetery’s territory at first occupied the area of 0.17 ha, but later it was enlarged. First an additional piece of 0.7 ha by Lamprechtstraße was purchased for 400 thalers, and subsequently the cemetery was enlarged in 1871 and 1891, and finally in 1917, when 0.38 ha of land was bought from the Pomerania Industrial Association (German Pommerscher Industrie-Verein). The final area of the cemetery was about 2 ha. A paved path beginning from Kreckower Straße (nowadays Adam Mickiewicz St.) led to the cemetery. An additional entrance was introduced from the side of Bethanienstraße. The pre-funeral house was erected on the cemetery’s territory in 1900. During Kristallnacht it was completely burned down and then pulled down at the end of 1939. In Jacoba Peiser’s book[1.4], however, we can see how it once looked like before the war as there is a picture of it, which has survived. Between the wars the cemetery’s territory was limited, because of the extension of Treitschkestraße (nowadays Leszczynski St.)[1.5]. The cemetery itself did not suffer any major damages neither during Kristallnacht nor during the following years. A description of the postwar cemetery, done by an engineer- Gildenman on April 25th, 1947 is kept in the Jewish Historic Institute. Here is a piece of that description: "The Jewish cemetery is Szczecin is located in the town center, at the intersection of Ks. Piotr Skarga St. and Leszczyński St. It spreads on an area of 10 ha. and is, surrounded by a fence. The cemetery is well-kept, with many green areas and division into blocks; thujas were planted along each alley. In the center of the cemetery there is the Tahare Sztib (pre-funeral house) under ground, over it there is a square, a place for praying and for delivering speeches. Next to the square there is the cemetery’s office, destroyed and plundered. The oldest gravestones we found in the cemetery are from 1820, the last one was erected in 1942, without considering the block with graves from the period 1946-1947. The gravestones are mostly made of marble, polished granite and basalt; the majority of inscriptions are made in German, with the exception of one block, where we can find inscriptions in Hebrew, and German inscriptions on the back of the gravestones. In a separate block there are gravestones set in a semi-circle on a square with thujas and spruces; These are the graves of Jews who had died during Word War I. Not far from the cemetery’s office you can find the grave of the Kessling family (.....). The eastern part of the cemetery in front of the entrance is the part where rich members of the Jewish community were buried. There is a family grave with artfully crafted monuments made from marble and polished granite" [1.6]. At the beginning, when the Soviets were stationed in Szczecin, the Nazis were forced to keep order in the cemetery. When the authority in town was taken over by the Polish Government, nobody took care of it any longer. In July 1946 the Polish town authorities passed the cemetery over to the newly formed Polish-Jewish Community. The community however was not granted the right to bury their deceased there, they had to use the municipal cemetery located in Ku Słońcu St.[1.7]. This regulation was often broken, so the town had to renew it in 1948. The issue of the cemetery remained unsolved till the 1960s. Then the town’s department of municipal economy began the procedure to close the cemetery on the basis of the law from 1959. It was officially closed on July 17th, 1962 with the decision of the Town National Council and four years later the cemetery’s area was diminished. This event was mentioned both in the media and on a board installed by the cemetery. The Jewish Community, however, has not received any other cemetery in exchange. The issue was forgotten for some time, but then, when the funeral of one of the most famous personality’s of the community, Dr. Adam Asnes, the issue was raised again. He died on May 20th, 1962 and his wife and friends turned to the First Secretary of the District Committee of PZPR (Polish United Workers Party) Antoni Walaszek himself. At first he gave them the permission to bury him at the already closed Jewish cemetery, then he withdrew his decision after consulting with the minister of municipal economy. In spite of that refusal Asnes’s wife decided to bury her husband illegally on that very cemetery. It was the last funeral which took place there. In the years to come the cemetery was more and more often destroyed by anonymous hooligans, and the authorities even considered the possibility to remove it completely, leaving only a small lapidarium with the gravestones found in one corner. The remaining part of the necropolis was supposed to be used for recreation. In 1977 Henryk Kołodziejek, the manager of the District Department for Religious Affairs issued an opinion stating, that the cemetery’s fence and the necropolis surrounding is well-kept, but the cemetery’s territory and the gravestones are neglected. It convinced the town’s authorities, that their decision to remove the cemetery was right. In September 1982 a debate was held by: Henryk Kołodziejek, Piotr Dyjeciński from the Department for Religious Affairs, Luwiusz Kopiejka and Moses Finkelstein, a representative of the Religious Union of Moses Religion, and also Bart Sucher and Adam Flecker, representatives of the community. They reached the conclusion that bodies from graves from the last 20 years should be exhumed and transferred to the Jewish sector of the municipal cemetery, whereas the old gravestones, still from German times, after being listed and after their value was estimated by the monument conservator were to be stocked in a place chosen by the town’s authorities. A park was done on the territory of the old cemetery with a commemorative obelisk in the middle surrounded by flower beds with a plaque with Polish and Jewish inscriptions. The cost of exhumation, monument and territory development was supposed to be covered with the money from the sale of gravestones. In November of the same year a decision was taken to create a park on a limited part of the old cemetery, the gravestones were taken to 39 Harcerzy St., to the warehouse of the department of greenery[1.8]. Part of them were sold, many can be found in different places in town. They ware used among others to construction works, road hardening, sandbox fencing, etc.[1.9] In the 1990s one of the journalists of „Glos Szczecinski” described the fate of the Szczecin bet olam: "The news about the town authorities’ decision made the cemetery hyenas impertinent. The devastation and profanation of the necropolis started. The cemetery became the shelter for drinking sprees of the underworld and bandits fights. And this was the greatest sin of the town authorities and the councilors, who voted for this project. The fact that closing the cemetery they did not think that it was a valuable cultural monument, a necropolis of the Jewish religion very rare and preserved in good state till the 1960s "[1.10]. The pictures of the old cemetery taken by W. Dahle in the 1970s are included in the book[1.11] [1.12].

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Footnotes
  • [1.1] Fritz R. Barran, op.cit.,, p. 114.
  • [1.2] http://www.kirkuty.xip.pl/szczecin.htm, [state for September 26th, 2008].
  • [1.3] http://www.jewishgen.org/cemetery/e-europe/pol-sr.html, [state for September 26th, 2008].
  • [1.4] Jacob Peiser, op.cit.
  • [1.5] Fritz R. Barran, op.cit., s. 114.
  • [1.6] http://www.kirkuty.xip.pl/szczecin.htm, [situation for September 26th, 2008].
  • [1.7] http://mapa.szukasz.pl/, [situation for September 26th, 2008].
  • [1.8] http://mapa.szukacz.pl/, [state for September 28th, 2008].
  • [1.9] http://miasta.gazeta.pl/szczecin/1,34937,4139029.html, [state for September 28th, 2008].
  • [1.10] http://www.kirkuty.xip.pl/szczecin.htm, state for September 28th, 2008].
  • [1.11] Gerhard Salinger, tom I, op.cit., p. 301-302.
  • [1.12] Gerhard Salinger, tom I, op.cit., p. 298.