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Use our multimedia maps, and explore the family pictures, archival material, and personal stories of 21 Jewish Holocaust survivors to get a unique insight into Europe’s rich Jewish heritage, and to discover sites of Jewish life in towns in Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania.
We are standing at the gate of one of the largest and best-preserved Jewish cemeteries in southern Poland. It dates back to the 16th century, when the Jewish community of Tarnów was allowed to establish a necropolis in what was then the separate village of Pogwizdów, on the city’s outskirts. Historians suspect that it was not the first cemetery of this Jewish community, but the lack of clear records from that period makes it impossible for us to know the location of the first burial ground of Jewish Tarnovians.
The Jewish cemetery in Tarnów reflects the history of the city’s Jews. We can find here the graves of great rabbis, social and political activists of great significance to the city and the region and, finally, soldiers who fought in the First World War. Also, many of the matzevot (Jewish tombstones) are beautiful pieces of art, showing the high level of craftsmanship of local sculptors.
During the Second World War, the Jewish cemetery also became a place of mass executions, as we see on the monument at the entrance. It is made of a piece of a column — the only remnant of the Jubilee Synagogue that was blown up by the Germans in November 1939. On the column we see a quotation from a poem by Nachman Bialik entitled In the City of Slaughter: “… and the sun was shining and it was not ashamed…”
After the war, thanks to the efforts of the Jewish community, the devastated cemetery was restored. Today, local activists led by Adam Bartosz, a long-time curator of the Tarnów museum, take care of this area. Centred in the Jewish Culture Monuments Committee in Tarnów, they have become the guardians of the Jewish heritage of Tarnów.