Darlowo Jewish Cemetery
The Jewish cemetery, which served the Darłowo community for many years, was established in the first half of the 19th century and was located near the village of Rusko (Rußhagen), approximately one kilometer from Darłowo.
It is known that, simultaneously with the extension of the synagogue in 1853, the kehilla also decided to enclose the cemetery with a new fence. It was made by the same carpenter who looked after the synagogue, and the new fence cost the community 110 thalers. A funeral home was also built in the cemetery. Eventually, the cemetery was surrounded by a brick fence.
The destruction of the cemetery took place on “Kristallnacht” in 1938. The matzevot were overturned and the plaque commemorating those who died during World War I was destroyed. Soon after, the main gate leading to the cemetery was closed with a chain and a lock.
After 1950, the then authorities razed the former cemetery to the ground and the tombstones remaining on it at that time were stolen. Until 1990, the area was used as a warehouse. On May 4, 1987, the cemetery was entered into the registry of monuments for the first time, pursuant to Decision No. 1205. On October 25, 2010, another one, marked as No. A-744 was made. A cemetery card, registry number 14364, has been in existence since 1988.
In 1990, on the initiative of the inhabitants, efforts were made to commemorate the former cemetery and to protect it from being used for economic purposes. Eventually, it remained private property, adjacent to agricultural land. It is surrounded by a low, wooden fence.
In the years 1992–1993 the cemetery was cleared of weeds. On this occasion, about 20 tombstones were discovered in the ground. Most of them were damaged and not all of them could be read in full, but on the basis of legible inscriptions (both German and Hebrew) it can be estimated that they come from the period between 1860 and 1890. The names on the matzevot are the same as those on the lists of community members for the given years. Two more tombstones were covered with Hebrew script. Unfortunately, none of the newer tombs have survived, many of which were probably made of black marble.
In August 1998, only the tombstone of Sarah Jacobi was legible, other matzevot were destroyed, and the entire area of the cemetery with an area of about 0.1 ha was again covered with wild vegetation. The foundations of the funeral parlor were also visible. At the cemetery there was an information board with the inscription: “There was a Jewish cemetery here until 1938”.
In 2021, the preserved historical elements are: three whole matzevot, several elements of other matzevot, fragments of tombstones bases, old trees (oaks). The fence has also partially survived, including a fragment of the concrete retaining wall visible from the side of the Darłowo-Karwice road; there are also some contemporary metal posts (no mesh). The whole area is overgrown and unmarked.
On November 25, 1970, the Minister of Municipal Economy issued a decision to close the cemetery. In 1974, on the basis of the decision of the Poviat National Council in Sławno, the cemetery plot was sold to Zygmunt P., who intended to build a residential building and a workshop on it. On May 4, 1987, the Provincial Conservator of Monuments in Koszalin issued a decision on entering the cemetery into the register of immovable monuments. As this was related to the limitation of the development of the area, and the local authorities refused to grant Zygmunt P. a replacement plot, a long-standing dispute arose in which in 2011 the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg was involved.
(K. Bielawski, cmentarze-zydowskie.pl)
The Jews of Darłowo constituted a small group of less than 3% of the town’s inhabitants. In the second half of the nineteenth century, more than 120 people lived here, and at the beginning of the twentieth century this number significantly decreased – to less than 80 people. During Kristallnacht (November 9-10, 1938) the cemetery was devastated by the Nazis, including the commemorative plaque devoted to the Jewish soldiers from Darłowo who died during World War I in the ranks of the German army was destroyed, and the cemetery was closed shortly thereafter. After 1950, at the behest of the Polish authorities, the cemetery was liquidated and the tombstones that still existed were stolen. In 1987, the cemetery area was entered into the register of monuments, but it did not protect it from further destruction. Until 1990, these were storage areas, and in the following years, these areas were sold to a private person for agricultural purposes.
(West Pomeranian Encyclopedia; http://encyklopedia.szczecin.pl)