Jewish Heritage Europe

The state of Jewish cemeteries in Poland, 2017

Jewish cemetery, Lesko, Poland


Virtual Shtetl has published a brief report summarizing the state of Jewish cemeteries, and research and documentation on Jewish cemeteries, in Poland — and also some statistics.

It states that, according to the most recent research, there are some 1,172 known Jewish cemeteries (or sites of destroyed cemeteries) in Poland, of which 247 are included on the national register of historic/cultural monuments.

The report, by Krzysztof Bielawski, notes that the state of our knowledge of Jewish cemeteries in Poland “is still insufficient,” with much if not most pre-World War II documentation destroyed, and no comprehensive inventory of gravestones in existence. Only a few dozen Jewish cemeteries in Poland, including those in Krakow, Lesko, Międzyrzec Podlaski, Olkusz, Slubice, Tarnow, have been researched and described in published monographs.



Important documentation, he notes, is currently being undertaken by the Foundation for Documentation of Jewish Cemeteries in Poland and scholars such as Dr. Andrzej Trzciński of Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin, Dr. Leszek Hońdo from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, and Dr.  Marcin Wodziński from the University of Wroclaw. New internet portals, including Virtual Shtetl, with its Memory in Stone project, a database that includes documentation of 15,500 Jewish gravestones in 144 cemeteries in Poland, Ukraine, and Belarus, have also helped.

“Jewish cemeteries in Poland undoubtedly require comprehensive documentation,” Bielawski writes.  “They are a valuable source of knowledge in various fields, especially on the history and culture of the Jewish community, the history of the village, genealogy. This is our common heritage – Jewish, Polish, European.”

Click here to access the Virtual Shtetl report




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