Piaski: New Jewish Cemetery
The new cemetery in Piaski contains evidence of severe damage to matzevot, executions and mass graves.
Authored by Caroline Sturdy Colls
A second Jewish cemetery for Piaski
The new Jewish cemetery in Piaski was used from the end of the 19th century and it was the second Jewish cemetery to be created in the town – the first being the old Jewish cemetery. The last known burial took place there in 1943 and the oldest surviving matzevah is a double stone dated 1906-1919.
The cemetery is located on the western outskirts of the town of Piaski in a particularly forested area (see also the map at the bottom of this page).
The cemetery is not fenced and in 2017, when the project team commenced the archaeological and social action projects, the site was heavily overgrown. Graffiti, waste and other detritus littered the former cemetery area.
A commemorative stone was installed in the cemetery in the 1990s but this has also been repeatedly vandalised. The plaque was replaced in 2006 because of one particularly serious instance of vandalism.
The map below shows the location of the cemetery (marked Cmentarz Zydowski).
Very few matzevot and fragments survive within the grounds of the cemetery.
During an archaeological survey at the site in 2017, walkover survey, mapping, HDR photography and laser scanning, were all used to locate, document the positions and record the inscriptions and motifs on damaged stones.
Only 27 matzevot remain in situ
The surviving matzevot are all damaged, fragmented and / or partially buried.
Marks on the stones indicate both blunt instruments and sharp objects being used to cause damage.
There is also evidence of graffiti being carved into stones and attempts to make inscriptions illegible.
Some of the matzevah seem to be used for target practice by local youths. The site is also littered with rubbish.
As well as the vandalism that has taken place in the cemetery, the site also became a killing and burial site.
Piaski: Mass Graves
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