Cakovec New Jewish Cemetery
The old Jewish cemetery of Čakovec was built in 1794 and was located in the center of the town. It was used for burials since its foundation to 1927. Later, all the old tombstones were moved to the new cemetery. The new Jewish cemetery is part of central town cemetery. The necropolis was opened in 1897 and still exists today.
The area for the Jewish cemetery was confiscated in 1948. The Ceremonial Hall was erected in 1891 but later demolished a hundred years later in 1991. The ruins of the Hall are still visible opposite the main entrance and its gate is decorated with two menorahs. The monument to Jewish WWII Victims was erected there after the end of the war. There were three family mausoleums dated to the 19th and 20th centuries and many tombstones still remaining in 2009. Gravestone inscriptions are in Hungarian, Croatian, German and Hebrew. The oldest tombstone dates back to 1859 and the latest to 2012.
Čakovec is a city located 90 kilometers north of Zagreb. It serves as the county seat and is the largest city in Međimurje County. The first castle in the city was erected during the 13th century. The area and castle were the places of many battles during the early Middle Ages. At the end of the 17th century, Čakovec received the status of a free market town. Yet, the development of the city was interrupted twice: in 1738 Čakovec was devastated by an earthquake and in 1741 by a large fire.
In the 19th century the city transformed into a big industrial and railway center for the whole region. In 1910, there were 5,887 inhabitants, comprising of Magyars, Croats, Germans and Jews. The first Jews came to the town from Moravia, Bohemia and Austria at the beginning of the 18th century. In 1740, there were only four Jewish families. They established an Ashkenazi community with other regular Jewish institutions. The first Jewish cemetery and “Hevra Kadisha” were organized in 1794.The synagogue was erected in 1836 and the Jewish school in 1860.
In 1880, the Jewish population counted 431 inhabitants. The Jews were the pioneers of the industrial development of the city during the 19th century. The first factory in Čakovec was opened in 1842; it was a vinegar Jewish factory. After, Jews opened many factory plants and turned the city into a major industrial center in the area.
Čakovec was known as the center of textile, color and wire production. Jews opened the first hotels, restaurants and also a cinema in the city. Many members of the Jewish community were doctors and layers. The local Jews of Čakovec were German speakers but their relations with Hungarians and Croats were amicable. 188 Jewish community members served in the military during the First World War, 17 of them perished. Most of the local Jews were loyal patriots of their “Hungarian Homeland,” but after the end of the WWI and the foundation of Yugoslavia, they became contributing citizens to the new state. The economic crisis of the 1920s-1930s forced many young Jews to leave the city. Before the Second World War, only 500 Jews lived in Čakovec. During the conflict, the area was occupied by the Hungarian army and the Jewish population suffered from anti-Semitic persecution. After the German invasion in March 1944, 605 Jews from the area were deported to concentration camps and a few ghettos. 430 Jews of Čakovec perished at Auschwitz and at other camps. There were only 83 Jews in the city after the end of the war. The synagogue was ruined and the site was nationalized in 1959. Nowadays, the Jewish population of the city is only around 20 people.