Sisak Jewish Cemetery
The Sisak Jewish cemetery was established at the beginning of the 19th century. It only suffered minor damage from Allied bombing at the end of World War II. Local authorities organized restoration work in the cemetery in the mid-20th century. In 1960, there were about 150 tombstones in the cemetery, some of which were moved to the new city cemetery. Only few broken tombstones were still in the cemetery at the beginning of the 21st century. The oldest tombstone dates to 1874 and the most recent to 1888.
Sisak is a large river port city, spanning the confluence of the Kupa, Sava, and Odra rivers. It is the administrative centre of Sisak-Moslavina County. The first recorded mention of the city was 2500 years ago. At that time, the Celtic town Segestica was on the site. In the period of Roman Empire, it was one of the most important towns of Upper Pannonia. The fortified city was ruined by Gothic tribes in the 5th century at the end of Roman rule in the region. When Slavic tribes came to the region in the 7th century, they rebuilt the city. There was an arena in city where many battles were held during the Middle Ages. Sisak’s fortress was erected in the mid-16th century as an attempt to strengthen the region against Turkish invasion. However, in 1593, the Ottomans captured Sisak following a siege. After Ottoman Rule, Sisak became an important river port and a trading centre in central Croatia. In the 19th and 20th centuries, a few metal factories were built in the city and the population increased. There were 7,881 inhabitants in Sisak in 1910.
Jews first came to the city at the beginning of the 19th century when the railway was built which connected Sisak with Zagreb. Most of the Jews came from Vienna and Zagreb and they became involved in the wheat trade. There were 40 Jews in Sisak in 1857. The Jewish community had their own synagogue and cemetery. The synagogue was built in 1880 and was famous for its choir which supported the chazzan (cantor) during prayer services. There were 329 Jews in the city in 1921. Before the beginning of World War II, the Jewish population of the city was 258. During the Holocaust, the Jews of Sisak were deported to or killed in concentration camps. Following the increase of partisan activity in the region, the anti-Semitic Ustasha militia organized a pogrom of local Jews in the summer of 1941. The Rabbi of Sisak’s synagogue, Rabbi Beno Heisz, was killed in 1943. Croatian nationalists organized a concentration camp for Jewish, Serbian, and Romani children near Sisak. It was in operation from January 8, 1941, until 1943. During this period, about 7,000 children were imprisoned there. About 2,000 of them were starved to death, or were deliberately infected through shots of typhoid bacteria and died. After the end of World War II, only 8 Jews lived in Sisak. In 1950s, they left Sisak for Zagreb or Israel. The synagogue was sold in 1949 and was turned into a music school.