(JHE) — The unique preserved burial archive of the vast Jewish cemetery in Łódź will be digitized this year, with the details from the burial cards of more than 65,000 individuals uploaded and made available online.
The collection is owned by the Jewish Community in Łódź, and the project is being undertaken thanks to the cooperation between the Jewish Community, the State Archives in Łódź and the Cultural Heritage Foundation. The delivery of the cards to the Archive and the ceremonial signing of the contract between the three bodies took place on March 17th at the headquarters of the Archive.
“We often do not realize how much valuable objects are in our property. [These cards] may look inconspicuous, but they are one of the most important monuments of the Łódź Jewish community,” Józef Weininger, Chairman of the Jewish Community in Łódź, said in an announcement of the project.
We have wanted to share this data for a long time. We have been looking for an institution that could help us for a long time. That is why we applied to The Cultural Heritage Foundation which immediately indicated the State Archives in Łódź as a proper and worthy place for such valuable documents. I hope that thanks to this descendants of Łódź Jews will be able to find information about their relatives.
The collection, the only one in Poland, includes more than 65,000 paper cards containing basic data of people buried at the Łódź Jewish cemetery. They are written mostly in Polish and date from the end of the 19th century until the 1950s, the announcement states.
All the other cards were lost, destroyed during the World War II or were transported outside of Poland. Thanks to the data contained in the cards, it will be possible to know the last places of residence of the deceased, the dates of death and burial, as well as the location of burials, including those without existing tombstones.
The digitization process will take place in 2021. Each card will be scanned and indexed, and an international team of genealogists will process them, the announcement said. Piotr Zawilski, director of The State Archives in Łódź , said that the scanning will be carried out by the employees of the archive “at the expense of the state.”
(Before they were accepted for scanning, the cards were fumigated to remove mold, fungi, and microorganisms, in a process financed by the Cultural Heritage Foundation and performed by the Library of the University of Łódź.)
“When we found out about the existence of these documents we immediately knew that it was something special and worth sharing,” said Michał Laszczkowski, President of the Cultural Heritage Foundation. “Both the Jewish Community and the State Archives quickly decided to cooperate. Thanks to this, soon after indexing, digital copies will be made available to interested parties all over the world.”
Laszczkowski said the project represented “a beautiful inauguration” of a project called the Coalition of Guardians of Jewish Cemeteries in Poland that was launched last year by state, civic and Jewish partners with the aim of creating a network of individuals, organizations, institutions, and grassroots groups who maintain and care for Jewish cemeteries in Poland — documenting, cleaning, renovating tombstones, clearing vegetation and carrying out restoration work, and creating memorials.