Prudnik Old Jewish Cemetery
Prudnik was established under Magdeburg Law in 1279. In the 14th and 15th centuries, Prudnik was under Czech rule. The first records of Jewish settlement date back to 1350. In 1524, 25 Jews lived there. Two years later, Prudnik was under the authority of German emperors. Under the Habsburgs, the Jewish community initially grew. In 1540, a synagogue was built and a year later, a cemetery was established. As a result of an increase in trade conflicts with Catholic merchants, pogroms, and general anti-Semitism, Jews were expelled from the city in 1570. In 1742, Prudnik was incorporated into Prussia under the changed name of Neustadt in Oberschlesien. The Jewish population returned to Prudnik after the “Emancipation Edict” in 1812. In 1840, Jews constituted 2.3% of the population (126 people).
Until the Second World War, the Jewish community was not numerous, but they were financial elite of the town. One of the most influential figures was Samuel Fränkel, who, together with his partners, their donations and financial support, significantly contributed to the development of Prudnik. The period of development of the Jewish community ended with the Night of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht) on November 9-10, 1938, during which the local synagogue was burned down. As part of the “Aryanization,” the Fränkl family had to hand over their textile factory to the Nazi authorities. Growing anti-Semitism forced many Jews to leave the town, and in 1939, only 79 remained. In 1940, a forced labor camp was established in the town. From the camp, the Jews of Prudnik were deported to various ghettos in Zagłębie Dąbrowskie in July 1942. In January 1945, a march of prisoners evacuated from Auschwitz-Birkenau went through the town. Many of them were shot in Prudnik, and after the war, the bodies of 27 victims were exhumed and placed in the new local Jewish cemetery.
The first Jewish cemetery of Prudnik was established in 1541 when the Jewish population received land on so-called Sand Mountain to establish a necropolis. The cemetery functioned until 1570. Currently, the area of the necropolis is neglected, overgrown with trees and completely unmarked. The burial layout also vanished completely.