Kisvarda Jewish Cemetery
The Jewish cemetery of Kisvárda was founded as early as 1855, since the earliest tombstone found in this cemetery dates back to that year. According to other sources, the cemetery was established in 1824. The latest tombstones found in the cemetery were erected in 1983. The cemetery was fenced by the Heritage Foundation for Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in the early 2000’s; it has 4 ohalim and 3 Holocaust cenotaphs.
According to Hebrew Wikipedia, the Jews of Kisvárda were first mentioned in an official document from 1730 and then in a 1747 census. They settled in Kisvárda according to a special permit issued by Count Eszterházy, the owner of the estate. The Jewish community was officially organized in 1796 along with the establishment of the Chevra Kadisha (burial society). In 1801, the first synagogue of the community was built as well as a formal Jewish school. The community also founded several charities including “Agudat Nashim”, “Ose Chesed”, “Gmilut Chasadim,” “Malbish Eromim” and more. In its early years it was subordinate to the Nagykálló Jewish community but became an independent community in 1844. From 1885, other Jewish communities from many nearby villages came under the jurisdiction of the Kisvárda Jewish community.
The Jews played a major role in the economic development of the settlement, especially in retail trade. Jews were managers and tenants of large estates, owners of warehouses for agricultural produce imported from surrounding areas, as well as the developers and owners of most of the food industry factories in the area. The first banks to open in the town were Jewish-owned. In 1900, the Jewish school had about 370 students, and a large yeshiva and several Torah study halls operated within the community as well. In 1901 a large and magnificent new synagogue was built. The economic situation of some Jews deteriorated following the global economic crisis of 1930, but later economic recovery resulted from the increasing armament of the armies in Europe.
Discriminatory laws, enacted and officialised in 1938 following the Hungarian government’s approach to Nazi Germany, undermined the lives of Jews in the settlement. Banks were expropriated from their Jewish owners, Jewish officials in public offices were fired, and the activity of Jewish merchants was restricted. In 1942, young Jews were drafted into the service of the Hungarian army, most of whom were sent to Ukraine where many later perished. On April 8, 1944, Jews from the surrounding settlements were put in the Kisvárda Ghetto. A week later, on April 15, the Jews of Kisvárda were confined in the Ghetto. Overall, close to 7,000 Jews were in the Kisvárda Ghetto, where they lived in severe overcrowded conditions. On May 29 and 31 of that year, the Jews in the Ghetto were deported in two deportations to the Auschwitz concentration camp. At the end of World War II, about 800 survivors returned to the settlement and re-established the community. After the Hungarian uprising in 1956, most of the community’s Jews immigrated to Israel or to the United States. In 1975 the Great Synagogue building was sold to the City Council and, since 1983, is used as a museum.