Centropa’s AudioWalks take you on a journey through the Jewish history of Central and Eastern Europe.

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.

A row of graves in the Jewish cemetery, Chernivtsi (© Moahim on Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Jewish Cemetery

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Zelena St, 11
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Chernivtsi’s impressive Jewish cemetery is located a bit outside the city center, but worth a visit. With an area of 12.5 acres and an estimated 50,000 tombs, the cemetery is one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Central and Eastern Europe. In 1866, the city of Chernivtsi ordered the construction of the cemetery, thereby replacing the old Jewish cemetery, which was located closer to the city center.

Upon entering the cemetery, visitors encounter the imposing former ceremonial hall. The massive building was designed by the local architect Max Morgenstern and inaugurated in 1906. A concrete dome crowns the quadratic central room. Here, the bereaved would say farewell. The annex buildings were used as morgue or for administrative purposes.

After World War II, the ceremonial hall was stripped from the Jewish community. The hall was turned into a warehouse building and a shop for restoring and manufacturing tombstones that had fallen into a disrepair. Since 2017, the hall has been undergoing restoration. Because the cemetery is no longer functioning, the idea is to establish a Holocaust Museum.

The cemetery provides a unique insight into Chernivtsi’s Jewish life until the late 19th century. In the first section, right behind the Ceremonial Hall, visitors see impressive burial sites of prominent citizens such as Eduard Reiss, the first Jewish mayor of Chernivtsi, whose mausoleum is decorated with colored glass windows. Other prominent burial sites include Benno Straucher, politician and long-time head of the Jewish community, fabulist Eliezer Steinbarg, and to other known Chernivtsi citizens from the fields of politics, culture, economy, science, and the arts. Time and time again, the tombstones proudly display the professions and honorary titles of the deceased. Visitors encounter lawyers, land barons, and the Director of the Bukovina Credit Union.

Once you leave the central path and turn right onto a path with a long row of light poles, you will reach the Memorial for the Jews of Chernivtsi who were murdered in Transnistria. The Memorial is decorated with two lions with golden ornaments. You can also find burial sites for Jewish soldiers of World War I and II. The rear part of the cemetery is dominated by more recent tombstones – with epitaphs in Russian and Ukrainian language.

Right across the Jewish cemetery, on the other side of the street, you can enter the large Christian cemetery. There are thousands of tombstones with German, Polish, Romanian and Ukrainian epitaphs. We highly recommend a visit to the Christian cemetery as it is a reminder of the city’s multiethnic past.

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