Opatija Jewish Cemetery
The Jewish cemetery of Opatija was established in 1908 and exists today. In 2009, there were about 75 surviving monuments and tombstones. The oldest tombstone dates back to 1885 and the latest to 2014. A Holocaust memorial was erected there in 1955. The Aron Hakodesh (ark in a synagogue, where the Torah is kept) marble from the Jewish prayer house of the town was used to build a monument engraved with the names of those deported to extermination camps.
Opatija is a town and municipality in the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County. During the Roman period, the area was famous for being a beautiful place for the villas of patricians. The first historical mention of Opatija was in 1453, during which it was a small fishing village. In 1420, the region was part of the Republic of Venice until it was later incorporated into the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in 1797.
The development of Opatija was rapid when the town turned into a popular tourist site in the mid-19th century. A few merchants built luxurious villas in town, established parks and very soon after Opatija became very popular. After the construction of the railway station in 1873, the town was an attractive spot for foreign tourists. The Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I enjoyed Opatija and spent many of his holidays there. Many royal families from all over Europe came to the town for pleasure and relaxation. In 1910, there were 11,825 inhabitants in the town, most of them Italians and Croats. After the end of the WWI, the town was annexed by Italy. After the Second World War, the whole area was incorporated into Yugoslavia.
In the 19th century, the Jews came to Opatija from Austria and Hungary because of the intensive development of the town. The Jewish population were merchants and worked in other free professions. The Jewish community was organized at the beginning of the 20th century; about 70 Jews lived in Opatija in those years. Many of them came to the town from Rijeka and were in connection with its Jewish community. In 1926, the first stone was laid for the foundation of a synagogue, but the serious economic crisis halted the construction. Before the Second World War, the Jewish population of the town numbered 100 people. After the occupation of the area by German troops in 1943, the local Jews suffered from persecution and the confiscation of their property. In 1944, 30 Jews were deported to concentration camps and some community buildings were burned. About 50 Opatija Jews perished in the Holocaust. In 1947, there were only 47 Jews in Opatija and the Jewish community was not restored.