Demecser Old Jewish Cemetery
There were two Jewish cemeteries in Demecser. The old cemetery existed as early as 1858 – which is the date marked on the oldest tombstone found in the cemetery. Judging further by the dates on the tombstones in both cemeteries, the old cemetery was presumably active until around 1927, when the new cemetery was established. The cemetery has been fenced and includes a cenotaph to the victims of the Holocaust.
Demecser is a settlement in eastern Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county. Jews were first recorded as living there in the 1770 census. The community declared itself as Orthodox in 1869, and from 1880, became an independent kehilla. The Jews of Demecser were mainly engaged in commercial activities, including work as beverage vendors, ironmongers, and produce sellers. Jews also operated a soda factory, took part in local government, worked as doctors, and some Jewish families were even landowners. In 1880, among the settlement’s 1,435 residents, 148 were Jews. This number steadily grew in the following decades. There were 274 Jews in 1910, 330 in 1920, and 386 Jewish residents by 1930.
Many local Jews fought in World War I, and ten of them were killed during the war. From 1938, the Jews of Demecser were subject to increasing hostilities. The authorities revoked their industrial licences, making their daily livelihoods impossible, and confiscated their lands. In 1941, around 80 young men were called up for labour service. In 1944, there were 334 members in Demecser’s Jewish community, 52 of whom were taxpayers. The caretaker was previously a barkeeper. Lőwy Márton was the deputy rabbi and Géza Leonorovits was the registrar rabbi. The community had 5 employees. The Jewish community moreover ran an elementary school with one teacher and 52 students.
The Jews of Demecser were later transported to the Nyíregyháza Ghetto. However, the ghetto was already overcrowded, so they were taken to Varjúlapos where there was no food, water, or sewage. A few days before Shavuot they were all deported to Auschwitz. 10 men survived labour service while three men and a few women came back from the death camp. They found the synagogue in ruins, and the cemetery destroyed. By 1963, there were no Jews left living in Demecser.