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Coat of arms of Pszczyna Alternate names: Pszczyna [Pol], Pleß [Ger], Pels, פשצ'ינה [Yid], Pštína [Cz], Pszczyn, Pshchina, Plschina, Pless. 49°58' N, 18°57' E, 11 miles NNW of Bielsko Biała, 21 miles S of Katowice. Jewish population: 331 (in 1861), ~100 (in 1918). Słownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego (1880-1902), IX, p. 257-259: "Pszczyna". The town in southern Poland with 26,827 inhabitants in 2003 within a powiat that has 50,121 inhabitants inthe town of Pszczyna, itself, Brzeźce (1041), Czarków (1852), Ćwiklice (2569), Jankowice (2591), Łąka (2729), Piasek (3252), Poręba (924), Rudołtowice (1111), Studzionka (2176), Studzienice (1612), Wisła Mała (1323) and Wisła Wielka (2114). Situated in the Silesian Voivodship (since 1999), previously in Katowice Voivodship (1975-1998).[June 2009]

On April 20, 1816, local Jews acquired a  0.6 hectare plot on today's ul Katowice for a cemetery. Earlier, local Jews used the Jewish cemetery in Mikołów. In 1830, the chevra kaddisha was established by Armuth Wolf and Samuel Bender. In 1888, a road was built from the brick wall with two stylized pillars and a neo-Classical beit tahara designed by Ernst Betz that both remain. Arched closed doors partially preserve original hinges, frame, and key holes. The pediment is crowned by the stylized Hebrew inscription "because at the end of man" (ps. 37.37) and two Mogen David on either side. On the sides are two round windows, which were probably filled with stained-glass windows. Neglect after WWII, the tahara increasingly fell into disrepair with the ceiling still showing polychrome. Today the building is protected, but the lack of care leaves the beam ceilings in danger in a building that is one of the best preserved beit taharas in Upper Silesia. The cemetery is divided into five sections: "A" located in SW of the cemetery has late 19th century graves in regular rows in the rear, early twentieth century, in the first and second row and one from 1933. "B" is located in NW of the cemetery where graves in parallel rows with only eight full graves. "C" in the southern border of the cemetery has very devastated but regular rows with only four remaining gravestones and three fragments. "D" in the NE of the cemetery has parallel gravestones from 1850-1900 roughly. "E", located in the SE of the cemetery, irregularly situated, with the oldest tombstone from 1816 and the latest in 1926. The first burial took place in 1816 or 1817, a a modest, almost primitive matzevot. The largest gravestones are those of Henriette  Timesdorfer (1832-1899) and Heinrich Simonov (1828-1907), basalt monuments with two columns supporting a triangular peak in the middle with a Mogen David. The last person buried in the Jewish cemetery was Lizzie Schindler was Rosenbaum, who died at the age 41 on October 7, 1937. Most gravestones have both German and Hebrew, German, or Hebrew on the reverse sides. Only the oldest have long epitaphs in Hebrew only, praising the virtues and good characteristics of the deceased. Dates appear. Some were numbered. Symbolism is not rich in traditional symbols as is typical in Eastern Europe. Many other gravestones have mainly geometric forms or flowers/plants from European art. Symbolism virtually disappeared in the interwar period. At the entrance in the second row is a modern gravestone. Detailed information about these matzevot. Based on the decree of the Minister of Municipal Stanisława Sroki, the cemetery was officially closed in 1959. In 1972 the city planned to transform the cemetery for another purpose. This never occurred. Neglect has resulted in fallen gravestones. Since 2004, once a year guide Peter Pilukiem leads a tour of the cemetery with an exhibition on the Jewish culture and klezmer concert. Photos. Video. [June 2009]

Cemetery photos [January 2006]

US Commission No. 000557. In Katowickie, Poland. The US Commission is not finished rechecking this file. [2000]

Last Updated on Monday, 29 June 2009 00:43
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