Old Jewish Cemetery

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37/39 Ślężna, Wroclaw, Poland
71 791 59 04

Old Jewish Cemetery Wroclaw Reviews

AdamR3723 AdamR3723
192 reviews
Fascinating glimpse into the past Jan 24, 2018
Slezna Street leads south from the centre of Wroclaw. About 900 feet north of its intersection with Wisniowa, we reach the entrance to the Slezna Street Jewish cemetery. Founded in 1856, burials continued there until 1943, when it was abandoned. In the 1980s, the cemetery was restored, and eventually became a department of the City Museum.

For a small fee, you can enter the cemetery and explore its myriad of gravestones and mausoleums, which are kept in a reasonably good state of preservation. If you look carefully, you will see that some of the stones have been damaged by gunfire. This occurred in 1945 when the Soviets and Germans were fighting for the city literally inch by inch.

There are two surviving Jewish cemeteries in Wrocław: the one at Slezna Street and another, which is still in use. Other Jewish cemeteries existed including one near the main railway station, but these have long since been built over.

The walls next to the main entrance have some inscribed stones attached to their exterior. These are fragments of mediaeval Jewish gravestones that have been discovered while excavating around the city’s older buildings. During the 13th century, Breslau was destroyed by the Mongols. When it was rebuilt, the local Jewish community was forced to donate their gravestones to be used as building materials. Some of these have come to light recently, when old buildings have undergone repairs. Near these old fragments, there is a monument to the over 400 Jewish men who sacrificed their lives for Germany in WW1.

Many famous Jewish inhabitants from Breslau are buried at Slezna Street, but I will single out only one of them. This was Ferdinand Lassalle (1825-1864). He is best known for having been a leading Socialist, a colleague of Marx and Engels. He founded the The Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiterverein, the fore-runner of today’s Social Democratic Party of Germany (founded 1875). His grave monument is against the inside of the cemetery’s enclosing wall as are those of many other people.

This is a wonderful place to explore Wroclaw's former glorious Jewish history.
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
starship1 says:
This is an interesting review. I was wondering if Wladyslaw Szpilmann (The Pianist) might be buried here but I just searched and found that he was buried in the Powazki Military Cemetery. Congrats on having today's featured review!
Posted on: Jan 28, 2018
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Kathrin_E Kathrin_E
371 reviews
Wroclaw's Old Jewish Cemetery Aug 02, 2014
This graveyard is a magical, mystic place. This is the world of the defunct and we, the living visitors, are intruders. That’s how it feels, almost unreal. This is perhaps the place in Wrocław that most impressed me.

The Jewish cemetery is a relic of the German era of the city when the Jewish community was large and influential and counted many wealthy businesspeople and renowned scientists among their members. Most inscriptions are in German and of course Hebrew, very few in Polish language. It got through the Nazi era and the war remarkably little harmed. The Nazis half-heartedly smashed some tombstones but the majority remained intact.

Wealthy families had burial vaults and mausoleums in long rows along walls, some shaped like neoclassical temples, others in „oriental“ or even Egyptian style. Everything is overgrown by ivy and other plants, and shaded by trees. The stones are crumbling. Some paths lead through but everything in between is a jungle and unpassable. The tombs of a few prominent people like the politician Ferdinand Lassalle or the parents of Edith Stein are signposted, otherwise it is up to you to find your way and discover.

A knowledgeable local friend had originally offered to take me there, but we abandoned the plan because of rainy weather. So in the end I went by myself, and to be honest, I was glad that I did. The cemetery is best experienced alone and in silence. Discussions and explanations would have interfered with atmosphere and sentiments.

The Jewish cemetery is administered by the city museum nowadays, surrounded by walls and fences, and well kept. That means it is not only protected from vandalism, but also perfectly safe to roam all by yourself.

The graveyard will be even more impressive in autumn when the leaves are falling and timid sunrays search their way through the last bits of morning fog ­- but even on a sunny summer’s day it had an amazing flair and atmosphere.

Getting there: Don’t try to walk from the city centre, it is quite far. Take tram 9 or 15 to „Uniwersytet Economyczny“, from there it is a walk of merely two minutes in southward direction on the right side of the main street.

Entrance fee: 10 PLN for adults (2014)
Tombstones in the Jewish cemetery,…
Old Jewish cemetery
Entrance gate
Main gate
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy

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