Do You Have Old Photographs From the Częstochowa Jewish Cemetery?

September 15, 2021
Source: Alon Goldman

Alon Goldman, Chairman of The Association of Częstochowa Jews in Israel and Vice President of the World Society of Częstochowa Jews and Their Descendants, together with the Polish historian Wiesław Paszkowski of the Częstochowa Municipal Archives, are researching the Częstochowa Jewish Cemetery, which was established in 1799. 

Of the 15,000 gravestones (matzevot) which the cemetery contained before the War, only about 4,500 have been mapped so far by Wiesław Paszkowski, Alon Goldman and a team of Reut High School students from Jerusalem. The rest were uprooted and destroyed by the Germans and used for fortifications during the War. After the War, while Polish re-construction was happening, building materials were either prohibitively expensive or were simply non-existent. Both Jewish and Christian cemeteries all over Poland, including this one, were then looted for anything which could be used as building materials.

An invaluable resource for researching this cemetery are old family photos taken before the War or immediately after the War, which include images of gravestones (matzevot) before the destruction and looting of the cemetery.

Each photo is meaningful and, with its help, it is sometimes possible to decipher the burial place of someone, which was previously not known.

In the archives of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, we found the picture (left) of the tombstone of Emanuel Rotensztajn, surrounded by his family. The matzeva was erected on his grave at the beginning of the War.

From this photograph, we learned that, next to it, was the grave of Meir Majerczyk,  whose family did not survive and therefore no tombstone was erected (marked in red).

We were asked to help in finding the grave of Jehuda Leib Krakoer, who died in 1936 and was buried in the Częstochowa Jewish Cemetery.  Although we were provided with a picture of the family around the tombstone, all our efforts to locate it failed, until we found a picture of the matzeva of Izaak Mosze Fiszman at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. To the right of it, partially obscured, is the matzeva of Jehuda Leib Krakoer.

In the mapping of the cemetery, it was not possible to identify who was buried in Graves 8019 and 8020 in the photograph (above, pic left). Only when we carefully examined the photograph (above, pic right), taken by Holocaust Survivor Lew Kusznir, of the grave of the six partisans (8021 in the photograph) taken in 1945/1946, we saw, in front of him, the grave (8021 in the photograph) and thus solved the mystery of who is buried there.

And there are many more such stories!

This is further proof that old photographs of the Częstochowa Jewish Cemetery, in a family album or in photographs donated to the Holocaust archives in the city or country where you live, have the potential to help identify the graves of our family members so that they will not remain anonymous forever.

Please make the effort to look in your old albums or check out the collection of photographs in your local archives.

Every image is important!

Photographs can be emailed to Alon Goldman: