Piwniczna-Zdroj Jewish Cemetery
The Piwniczna Jewish cemetery likely was founded towards the end of the 19th century. It covered a plot of land on the western side of the Poprad River, near the railroad tracks, on the eastern side of Kazimierza Wielkiego Street. The cemetery was surrounded by a partially preserved stone wall. The cemetery was destroyed during the German occupation. The matzevot were used for utility purposes and for hardening sidewalks and driveways at the building used for the gendarmerie station (at Kazimierza Wielkiego Street). Tombstones were continuously removed from the cemetery after the end of the war. In the 1970s, some matzevot (a dozen or so tombstones) were recovered and placed back in the cemetery, which was then fenced with a pole fence. It is not known whether any tombstones or fragments thereof are standing in the original location. The tombstones made of Carpathian flysch are prone to quick deterioration.
Piwniczna was a royal city founded in 1348 on the trade route leading through the Poprad River valley to Hungary. In 1777, there were 1,003 inhabitants in the town, but none of them were Jewish. In 1876, a railway line was built in Piwniczna. In 1880, there were 2,964 inhabitants, 4% of whom were Jews. In 1939, Jews constituted about 7% of the population. Jews began to settle in Piwniczna in the 18th century, though it caused opposition from Christian burghers. It is possible that there was a ban on Jewish settlement before that, and King August III had issued such a ban which was confirmed by Stanisław August Poniatowski.
Larger Jewish settlement was recorded in the city in the second half of the 19th century, though Jews never exceeded more than 8% of the town’s population. Though the Jewish community was part of the Nowy Sącz Jewish community, the local Jews established their own institutions. Before World War II, about 230 Jews lived there. After the Germans had seized Piwniczna, they ordered the Jews to leave the town in the fall of 1940. The Jews were relocated to the ghettos in Stary Sącz and Nowy Sącz. These ghettos were liquidated in the spring of 1942 after which the Jews were transported to the death camps in Bełżec and Treblinka.