Kutno Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Country
Poland
Region
Łódzkie Voivodeship
District
Kutno
Settlement
Kutno
Site address
The cemetery is located between Teligi, Zdrojowa and Tarnowskiego streets.
GPS coordinates
52.2385494, 19.3567085
Perimeter length
734 meters
Is the cemetery demolished
yes
Type and height of existing fence
No fence
Preservation condition
Demolished Jewish cemetery that has not been built over
General site condition
No tombstones have survived in the cemetery. In the centre, on the hill, there is a memorial plaque. There are two plaques stating that there was a Jewish cemetery in this place: one on Teligi Street and the other on the corner of Teligi and Tarnowskiego Streets. There is also a plaque with the history of the cemetery here. The survey team were unable to get into the museum as it is was closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. There are stones at the site that could have been tombstones, but there are no visible inscriptions on them. There are possible other fragments at the site, but they are difficult to locate due to the high grass. There is a mass grave, according to sztetl.org, of the Jews whom have been killed in the Kutno ghetto. It’s location is not signposted.
Number of existing gravestones
No tombstones preserved.
Date of oldest tombstone
N/A
Date of newest tombstone
N/A
Urgency of erecting a fence
High
Land ownership
Property of local community
Preserved construction on site
No
Drone surveys
Yes

Historical overview

The Jewish cemetery in Kutno is located on a large hill between the Sobieskiego, Zdrojowa, and Tarnowskiego streets. One can enter the cemetery at Spokojna Street. The cemetery was established in 1793. It is not known exactly how many burials took place in the Kutno cemetery, but according to the recollections of pre-war inhabitants of the city, there were hundreds or even thousands of graves. In the cemetery, there was an ohel of Jehoszua Trunek, who died in 1893 and for over 30 years, was a rabbi of Kutno and Posek haDor. He was also an author of Yeshuot Malko. During World War II, the cemetery was devastated by the Germans. The matzevot were used to harden the sidewalks, squares, and backyards of the houses occupied by the Germans. There were plans to erect a monument to the Victory of the Third Reich in the necropolis, but these ideas were never implemented. The Jews who died or were murdered in the Kutno ghetto, as well as the victims of the executions, were later buried in the cemetery. After the war, the ashes of Jews brought from the extermination camp at Chełmno nad Nerem were buried in the cemetery. At that time, a monument commemorating the victims of the Holocaust was unveiled. The last funeral at the Kutno cemetery took place in 1948.

In the following years after the war, the necropolis underwent major degradation. The obelisk in honor of the victims of the exterminations was destroyed. The local population used the area of the cemetery as a gravel excavation place, an illegal landfill, and as a pasture for animals. There have been cases of digging up graves in search of valuables. A few preserved tombstones were also used as building material for hardening sidewalks or erecting fences.

In the 1980s, thanks to the involvement of the former director of the Museum in Kutno and members of the Society of Friends of the Kutno Region, several hundred matzevot were recovered. Until now, they are stored in the warehouse of the Regional Museum in Kutno. The fragments of tombstones found made it possible to almost completely reconstruct 90 tombstones and partially reconstruct 60 tombstones. On December 9, 1992, the cemetery in Kutno was listed in the Register of Monuments under the number 635. In 1993, a monument dedicated to the memory of the Jews from Kutno was unveiled at the cemetery. No matzevot have survived in the cemetery, only rubble remains on the ground. In the southwestern part of the necropolis, a section of the original brick cemetery wall has been preserved. The cemetery is now used by residents as a recreational area. The area of the cemetery is 3.01 hectares.

Kutno was founded as a private noble town in 1386. The first historical records of Jews in Kutno are from 1513. Based on data from 1579, it is estimated that 63 Jews lived in the town. There was also probably a formal Jewish community at that time. In the 18th century, numerous institutions were established by the Jewish community, including the hospital and the Chevra Kadisha which dealt with, inter alia, the purchase of land from landowners for the cemetery. In 1800, 1,376 Jews lived in Kutno (70.2% of the total population), and in 1908, the Jewish community numbered 8,978. On September 19, 1939, directly after the start of the Second World War, the first manhunt against the local Jewish population took place in Kutno. The ghetto was established on April 14, 1940. About 8,000 Jews were imprisoned there. The liquidation of the ghetto began on March 23, 1942, and the Jews were transported to the extermination camp in Chełmno nad Nerem. After the war, about 50 Jews lived in Kutno. Most of them left the city in 1968.