New Jewish Cemetery Krakow

Kraków: The Peaceful New Jewish Cemetery

While on the outside traffic is hurrying by, the silence on the huge area of the New Jewish cemetery is peaceful and unhasty. Birds are singing and while walking through the bigger and smaller paths between the tombstones I want to make myself as small  and quiet as possible as if I would be here only in my thoughts.

It’s because of that that I like to visit cemeteries, and I have seen many, above all in Sicily, France and Germany but never before I have been to a jewish cemetery.  I think of the many people during many different times buried here and some of the tombstone inscriptions tell stories of the lives they led before finding peace here. The German word for cemetery is Friedhof, which means yard of peace which I think is a very adequate denomination.

During WW2 the Nazi commandant Amon Göth – well known as the sadistic leader from Schindler’s List – took gravestones from this cemetery as pavement for the supply road for Płaszów concentration camp. After the war a lot of them have been recovered and brought back to the cemetery.

The area is very big – 4,5 hectares – and sometimes I start to follow a path which ends in a cul-de-sac and I have to return.

The special thing on this cemetery – maybe on all jewish cemeteries, I don’t know – is that the area is more of a wild landscape than an arranged yard. At least half of the area is completely overgrown and it seams like nature takes back what belongs to her. Wilderness of peace would be the adequate word.

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