Lodz' Jewish cemetery the biggest in Europe

Lodz' Jewish cemetery is an impressive sight, with its long avenues, old trees, mausoleums that look like ancient temples and thousands of headstones. Some are badly weathered and it is impossible to read the inscriptions on many. Graves are covered in ivy and most of them date back to before the Second World War.

Today, Lodz's Jewish community is small compared to what it once was. At one time, it was the largest in Poland after Warsaw's. The cemetery is the biggest of its kind in Europe, with 180,000 graves, many of which are of historic interest.

Perhaps the biggest surprise the cemetery has to offer is that it still exists. The German occupying forces during World War II not only tried to exterminate the city's Jewish population, but destroyed almost all of its synagogues and attempted to wipe out all traces of Jewish culture. Lodz's Jewish cemetery was not spared

"In the 19th century, a third of Lodz's residents were Jews. At the beginning of the war about 230,000 lived here," says Anna Jozwiak as she points to the Star of David on the cemetery gates. The Nazis turned a portion of Lodz into a ghetto called Litzmannstadt.

"About 200,000 Jews were held in the ghetto. Only a small portion - perhaps 800 - survived."

Some of those who died in the ghetto were buried in Lodz's Jewish cemetery. But most of the graves are older and date back to the time when Lodz was a growing industrial center. It expanded faster than any other in the region. (Earth Times)

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  1. The Jewish Cemetery of Thessaloniki/Salonica is the biggest Jewish cemetery ever to have existed from the 2nd centure CE until 1943 when Greek authorities demolished it; it was home to 350.000 to 500.000 tombs. Today even though the Aristotle University is built on top, graves from the 2nd century CE can still be found.

  2. I doubt that the Jewish cemetery in Lodz is the biggest in Europe. The much older cemetery in Warsaw -- and certainly the vast Kozma utca cemetery in Budapest -- include more burials. The Lodz Jewish cemetery does have a very informative web site that should be noted in your links -- http://www.jewishlodzcemetery.org/

    Ruth Ellen Gruber
    author, "National Geographic Jewish Heritage Travel: A Guide to Eastern Europe"

  3. The Jewish cemetery in Berlin Weissensee, established 1880, has nearly 118,000 graves, most of them still intact despite the Nazi terror.


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