Wroclaw, Poland


May 2013

Old Jewish Cemetery

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cemetery gate

Hands motif

The Old Jewish Cemetery in Wroclaw is located in the south east part of Wroclaw, Poland, currently along Ślężna street. The first burial took place on 17 November 1856 which back then was a village of Gabitz. The current shape of the cemetery evolved mostly during 19th century - the cemetery area was expanded twice. In 1943 the burial ceremonies were abandoned and the necropoly was leased for five years to a gardening center. During World War II, the cemetery became a fierce battle ground, the marks of which are still visible on many tombstones. After 1945 it slowly turned into ruins. It was put on the list of the city's monuments in 1975.


Most of the cemetery objects were built in second half of 19th century. They imitate various architectural styles including Ancient, the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque. Great example of Ancient architecture are numerous columns located throughout the cemetery that are symbols of life and eternity. Columns imitating broken trees reflect the tragedy of fragile life and death. Tombstones are signed by bilingual inscriptions, most commonly German and Jewish.[1]

Most common symbols of Jewish culture which can be seen on tombstones are:

  1. hands - on the tombstones of descendants of Aaron

  2. oriental tree - ancient symbol of messianic hope

  3. broken rose - motif of death

  4. helmet - army officer symbol

  5. palms - symbols of national sacrifice of Jews [1]

Renowned people buried at the cemetery[edit]

  1. Isidor and Neander Alexander - renowned banker family[1]

  2. Leopold Auerbach - professor in biology and historogy at the University of Breslau (now University of Wrocław)

  3. Julius Cohn - professor of botanics

  4. Heinrich Graetz - professor of history at Wrocław University

  5. Friederike Kempner - writer

  6. Ferdinand Lassalle - a thinker and social activist who stayed in close contact with Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels