Zabrze Jewish Cemetery
The Jewish cemetery in Zabrze is located at 15 Cmentarna Street and borders the Evangelical cemetery on its northwest side. The cemetery was founded in 1871 on the outskirts of the town and was donated to the community by the last private owner of the town, Guido Heckel von Donnersmarck. The funeral house—which housed the Chevra Kadisha (burial society)—was built soon after the cemetery was established. In 1892, the funeral house was expanded. In 1894-1895 and the subsequent years, the area of the cemetery was gradually expanded. The last burials in the cemetery took place in 1954. About 300 tombstones, which are traditional matzevot and tombs, have been preserved in the area of 1.5 hectares. The oldest ones are made of sandstone, and the later ones are made of marble, granite, red labradorite, and syenite. Decorations and inscriptions in German and Hebrew have been preserved on the tombstones. The oldest preserved matzevah dates to 1871. Some damaged matzevot were placed in one section of the cemetery called the “wailing wall.” The old layout of the cemetery is visible. In some places, the original stone paving has been preserved. Russian soldiers who died in 1918 in a POW camp in Zabrze are buried under the walls in the north-eastern part of the cemetery. There is also a mass grave of prisoners of the KL Auschwitz-Birkenau sub-camp located in Zabrze from August 1944 to January 1945. The grave was discovered by Dariusz Walerjański and is in the west of the cemetery.
After 1945, all burials were conducted in the western and northeastern parts of the cemetery. In total, over 678 people were buried in the cemetery. There are about 260 trees in the cemetery, among which single plane trees and robins grow along the alley. Individual tombstones and tree trunks are overgrown with ivy. Since 1989, the cemetery has been maintained by the Social Committee for the Care of the Jewish Cemetery in Zabrze. In September 2020, the cemetery was vandalized and about 25 tombstones were knocked over. In June 2021, unknown perpetrators damaged the cemetery gate. By the decision of September 18, 1982, the cemetery was included in the Register of Monuments (No A / 1500/92).
It is not known when exactly the first Jews settled in Zabrze. Available documents prove they lived in the town as early as 1771. In 1865, a branch of the Jewish community in Bytom was established in Zabrze, and an independent community was established on January 1, 1872. In 1885, there were 1,013 members in the Zabrze Jewish community, and 1,165 in 1901. At Kristallnacht, the synagogue was burned down, and Jewish shops were demolished. In the fall of 1938, there were still 784 Jews in Zabrze. During World War II, in May 1942, the Jews of Zabrze were deported to KL Auschwitz-Birkenau.