Zory Jewish Cemetery
The Jewish cemetery in Żory is located at Cmentarna Street, at the intersection with Dębowa Street, in the north-eastern part of the town. The cemetery was established in 1814. Previously, Jews from Żory were buried in the Jewish cemetery in Mikołów. The land of the cemetery is square shaped, with an entrance on its eastern side. The first burial (of Güttel, wife of Jacob Kochmann) took place in 1814, and the most recent (of Wolf Nuchym Erlich from Będzin) in 1936. A funeral house was built in 1837 and was rebuilt and expanded in 1886. According to available documents, at least 621 Jews were buried in the cemetery in Żory between 1814-1936.
During World War II, the cemetery was severely damaged, and many matzevot were removed by the Germans. During the fights in January 1945, the funeral home was destroyed and then demolished in the 1960s. The cemetery fell into further disrepair in the post-war years. The area was used as a playing field. About 130 tombstones, including 45 which are still standing, have been preserved in the area of 0.58 hectares. Some damaged matzevot are in a pile. The preserved matzevot are mainly made of sandstone, with typical decorations and inscriptions in Hebrew and German. There is the tombstone of Rabbi Nachman Wolff Wischnitz in the cemetery, who died in the town in 1823 as a result of incineration. In 1985, at the initiative of town authorities, an inventory was created of the tombstones, and the fence was repaired. In 1994, the Żory Land Enthusiasts Association conducted an inventory survey again. In 2002, the cemetery became a cultural park. Since 2011, the cemetery can be visited using a mobile phone application. Since 2014, the cemetery has been taken care of by the “Wspólna Pasja” Work Activity Center in Żory, whose employees carry out regular maintenance work. The cemetery area is covered with trees and is fenced with a low wall. The keys to the gate are in the office of Zakłady Techniki Komunalnej.
Żory was founded under Magdeburg Law in 1272. The first records of Jewish settlement in the town date to the beginning of the 16th century. In 1565, following the rule of German emperors in Silesia, all Jews were forced to leave the town, and they only returned after 1713. In 1791, 34 Jews lived in Żory, and 152 in 1797. In 1846, the Jewish community of Żory numbered 542 people (constituting 13.5% of the total population). At the turn of the 20th century, many Jews from Silesia emigrated to the west and by 1907, the community numbered only 98 people. During World War II, in May 1940, the Germans deported all Jews from Żory to the Będzin Ghetto.