Rozprza Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Country
Poland
Region
Łódzkie Voivodeship
District
Piotrków
Settlement
Rozprza
Site address
Opposite 44, General Karola Świerczewskiego Street. Access is also possible from the Catholic cemetery, but the path leading to the cemetery is very overgrown. The entrance from Świerczewskiego Street is more convenient.
GPS coordinates
51.2948874, 19.6365809
Perimeter length
412 meters
Is the cemetery demolished
no
Type and height of existing fence
No fence
Preservation condition
Unfenced Jewish cemetery
General site condition
On the eastern side, the cemetery is very overgrown. Tombstones have been preserved in situ, and there are fragments at the site as well. On the path, next to the Catholic cemetery, there is a board informing about the existence of a Jewish cemetery.
Number of existing gravestones
50 tombstones have survived, of which 5 are well-preserved matzevot standing in their original place, the rest are damaged matzevot or tombstone bases.
Date of oldest tombstone
1813
Date of newest tombstone
N/A
Urgency of erecting a fence
High
Land ownership
Other
Preserved construction on site
No
Drone surveys
Yes

Historical overview

Rozprza was founded before 1272 as a city and was demoted in 1870. Jewish settlement commenced in the 17th century. A kehilla was established by the end of the same century. The expansion of the community happened between the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. In 1827, there were 213 Jewish residents in Rozprza, in 1857 – 246, and in 1897 – 557, comprising of about 62% of the total population. A census from 1921 recorded 546 Jewish residents. At the start of the 20th century, Jews made up of approximately 60% of the total population. The synagogue was built in 1898. During World War II, the Germans transported all of Rozprza’s Jewish residents to the ghetto in Piotrków Trybunalski.

The Jewish cemetery is located between Świerczewskiego Street and the road to Kolonia Stara Wieś, near the Catholic cemetery, approximately 1 km southeast of the town centre. A prewar road leading to the cemetery is still visible from its eastern side, yet it is now overgrown.

According to some historical sources, the cemetery was founded in 1677, but this date is not confirmed. Initially it was also the burial site for Jews from Piotrków Trybunalski. During World War II, the cemetery was largely destroyed. Matzevot were used to pave the floors of stables and barns. According to eyewitness accounts, some tombstones that survived were taken for use in construction and as grindstones after the war. Nearly all signs of the cemetery were lost, with only individual fragments of broken tombstones – mainly concrete foundations of missing matzevot remaining.

In August 2013, local activists uncovered and replaced the missing matzevah of Rojza Lea Prager. Thanks to the efforts of Piotr Skrobek (head of the local volunteer fire brigade) and Jonny Daniels from the From The Depths Foundation, who implemented the “Matzevah” project, as well as members of the volunteer fire brigade from Rozprza, local residents and activists, the cemetery was cleaned and maintained in 2014. Around 20 tombstones or tombstone fragments were uncovered, some which are now vertical again. Due to the well-maintained polychrome, very unique in comparison to other Polish Jewish cemeteries, one noteworthy tombstone is that of Icchak, son of Elchanan Efraim ha-Lewi Różycki. The oldest of the surviving tombstones dates back to 1827.

Beside the entrance there is a plaque with the inscription: “Jewish cemetery of Rozprza. Please be respectful of the burial site of your town’s residents”. The cemetery has an acreage of 0.7 hectares.