Didymoteicho Old Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Country
Greece
Region
Eastern Macedonia and Thrace
District
Evros
Settlement
Didymoteicho
Site address
Having left the town of Didymoteicho westbound on Epar.Od. Didimotichou-Metaxades Street, turn left near the Christian cemetery and proceed for 230 metres. The old cemetery is located 20 metres to the right from the road, on the slope.
GPS coordinates
41.34834, 26.48015
Perimeter length
436 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
no
Type and height of existing fence
There are remnants of old concrete fencing present. The fence’s foundations are preserved.
Preservation condition
Unfenced Jewish cemetery
General site condition
The cemetery is abandoned and overgrown with bushes and grass. Its fencing requires restoration.
Number of existing gravestones
Around 150. The tombstones are no longer standing upright, but rather laid out horizontally.
Date of oldest tombstone
1836/5596
Date of newest tombstone
1856/5616
Urgency of erecting a fence
High
Land ownership
Other
Preserved construction on site
Drone surveys
Yes

Historical overview

A Jewish community existed in Didymoteicho as far back as the early years of Ottoman rule (14th century). It was predominantly Sephardi and numbered a few dozen families by 1821. A synagogue operated by 1862. The school established in 1883 came under the patronage of the Alliance Israelite Universelle in 1897. A new school building was inaugurated in 1911. The Jewish community grew in the first decade of the 20th century and numbered 950 in 1913. Hebrew teachers from Bulgaria introduced Zionist ideas to Didymoteicho in that era. In 1919, Didymoteicho came under Greek rule. The community, now numbering over 1,000, was well organized and by 1924 boasted a new synagogue, a school, and a community center. In the 1930s, many Jews emigrated.

The Germans invaded and occupied Didymoteicho. Until mid-1942, the Jews were left in peace. On 4th May 1943, the men were gathered in the synagogue, declared under arrest and ordered to collect their families for transfer to Poland. After the war, most of the Jewish possessions and buildings including the synagogues and schools were not returned to the community. The community dwindled with emigration and was dismantled in 1967. Only four Jews remained in 1983.

The exact period of the cemetery’s establishment is unknown, but it can be assumed it was founded in the 14th century.

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