Karlovac Jewish Cemetery
The first Jewish cemetery in Karlovac was established at the beginning of the 19th century near the old fortress Dubovak. The oldest tombstone in the cemetery dates to 1816. The Chevra Kadisha (burial society) was established in 1825 and built a new cemetery in 1891. There was a ceremonial hall and about 200 tombstones in the cemetery at the beginning of the 20th century. The Jewish cemetery was impressive thanks to its marble gravestones and its mortuary which fashioned after the antique temples. The earliest burial dates to 1864 and the latest to 2021.The site was nationalized in 1958 and protected as a Historical Landmark. However, in 1988, right-wing Croatian vandals painted swastikas and broke some of the tombstones.
Karlovac is a city in central Croatia and is the administrative centre of Karlovac County. The city was established in 1579 as a fortress to strengthen the nearest areas against Ottoman invaders. Karlovac received its name from Archduke Karl II of Austria and was built according to the plan of the architect Matija Gambon. The Turks tried to seize the city seven times but did not succeed, failing to seize the city for the final time 1672. In the 18th century, Karlovac became the most important trading centre of the whole region owing to its advantageous location on four rivers. The main trade products were wheat, corn, salt, timber, and tobacco for the needs of the army. There were 4,396 people living in Karlovac in 1853. The city developed significantly after a railway line was opened in 1861 which turned the city into a major trade and transport centre in central Croatia.
The first Jews came to Karlovac at the end of the 18th century and by 1785, there were 41 Jews living in the city. The Jewish community was officially established in 1852, at which time 130 Jews lived in Karlovac. Many Jewish families came to the region from Slovakia and Bohemia in the 19th century. Most of the Jews lived in the Jewish quarter (“Zidovska Város”) near the old fortress Dubovak on the river. It was not a ghetto as many Christian families lived in the same part of the city. The Jews of Karlovac worked in the sectors of business, banking, and international trade. When the city became the major centre of the region, many Jews were the first to open some businesses. There were 905 Jews in the city in 1880. The first large synagogue was built in 1871 and it was one of the most beautiful synagogues in Croatia. It was the synagogue of Neology movement of Judaism with an organ inside, and the facade facing Jerusalem. After World War I, the Jewish population of Karlovac decreased as a result of economic decline, and by 1940 there were only 198 Jews remaining in the city. The Jewish community of the city was actively involved in the social and cultural life of Karlovac and relations with the non-Jewish population were good. Before World War II, 50% of the community members were married to non-Jews. During the Holocaust, 86% of the local Jewish population were sent to concentration camps where they perished. The synagogue was turned into a warehouse and ruined in 1961. There were only 25 Jews in Karlovac in 1971.