On my last day in Wroclaw (Wrocław), I visited the old Jewish cemetery which is a little outside downtown. This place was without a doubt one of the most interesting sites I have seen in Poland.
What’s in the article?
- A brief history of the Jewish people in Wroclaw
- Documented events, pogroms and violence the Jewish congregation experienced:
- History of Wroclaw Old Jewish Cemetery
- Information for visitors
- Where is the cemetery?
- More photos from Wroclaw Old Jewish Cemetery
A brief history of the Jewish people in Wroclaw
Before we dive into the history of the cemetery, I think it is important to give context to the Jewish history of Wroclaw.
Jewish people have a history of more than 800 years in Wroclaw. In the 12th century, Wroclaw had the second largest Jewish population in Europe.
Although there were many pogroms and prosecutions against the Jewish people throughout the centuries, up until the Second World War (1939-1945), the Jewish congregation had been an important part of the city.
Documented events, pogroms and violence the Jewish congregation experienced:
- Pogroms 1349 and 1360 that decreased the Jewish population in Wroclaw by 85%.
- In 1453, 41 Jews were burned alive after being accused of heresy
- In 1455, a decree was passed prohibiting Jews from residing in Wroclaw
- After the Jews began resettling in Wroclaw in 1657, their number quickly grew up to 775 people. However, an order issued by the Holy Roman Emperor in 1738 once more banned Jews from living in Wroclaw.
- 6 years later, in 1744, a decree was announced when Wroclaw came under Prussian power which allowed the Jews to live in the city once again.
- In 1861, 7.5% of Wroclaw’s population was comprised of Jews.
- Until World War 2, Jewish people lived and prospered in Wroclaw despite some conflicts and tensions.
- At the beginning of World War 2, there had been around 20,000 Jewish people in Wroclaw. During the war, many were executed, imprisoned and sent to death camps.
History of Wroclaw Old Jewish Cemetery
The oldest known Jewish tombstone in Wroclaw is dated to 1203 AD. Until the 19th century, there had been various Jewish burial grounds around Wroclaw. However, this cemetery was opened in 1856. The last funeral here took place in 1942.
In 1945, Wroclaw Old Jewish cemetery was turned into a resistance base by the German troops. On account of the fierce fighting between the Nazis and Allied powers around the end of World War II, many tombstones and mausoleums were badly damaged. Today, it is possible to see the bullet holes on the graves as well as countless broken headstones.
Preservation work of cemetery started in 1971, and in 1991, the site was opened as a museum.
There are around 1200 graves and monumental mausoleums in the cemetery. Here, it is possible to see various architectural styles such as ancient Roman, renaissance and baroque.
Information for visitors
Wroclaw Old Jewish cemetery is open every day from 9am to 5pm in the summer season (between April and November) and from 9am to 6pm in the winter season (between November and March).
However, visiting hours may change by the time you read this post. Click here to access the most up-to-date information.
A single ticket is 15zł (3.3$) and a discounted ticket (for students, elders) is 10zł (2.2$). You can pay by card as well.
Where is the cemetery?
Wroclaw Old Jewish Cemetery is located 2.6 km away from downtown Wroclaw. Walking takes about 35 minutes. You can also access the site easily by taking trams from the city center.
If the map widget doesn’t display on your device, click here to see the location of the cemetery.
Coordinates of the cemetery: 51.086865, 17.025477