A 19th Century Cemetery
Wąwolnica’s Jewish cemetery was established in the early 19th century on a steep hillside, north-east of the village. The last known burial at the Jewish cemetery was in 1942.
In 2017, when the project team arrived at the site, no sign or marker was present to indicate the cemetery’s location or existence. Similarly, there is no wall, gate or fence surrounding the cemetery and access to it is via private property.
However, a memorial to the Jews murdered during World War II is present within the cemetery, which was erected in 1993 by Sara Tregerman-Ryterska whose family perished in Wąwolnica.
Following the clearance of dense vegetation at the site, the archaeological survey revealed that 49 apparently in-situ matzevot and two tombs survive.
However, this number can be considered insignificant by comparison to an estimated 686 Jewish burials originally buried there; (based on death records between 1808-1942, sourced from Ancestry).
Most of the matzevot exhibit signs of damage
Much of this appears to have been inflicted through blunt force, while other damage present was consistent with sharp force. This type of damage, along with the absence of many of the tombstones, reveals the nature of cultural genocide at Wąwolnica Jewish cemetery and the neglect and vandalism that occurred in the years since.
Many of the matzevot that remain in the cemetery are so severely damaged that it is not possible to read the inscriptions or identify the names of those buried.
Some of those that are readable are shown below (transcriptions courtesy of Paweł Sygowski and A. Trzciński).
Photogrammetry and High-Dynamic-Range (HDR) photography conducted by the “Recording Cultural Genocide and Killing Sites” project team, allowed the matzevot to be presented, analysed and preserved digitally through 3D methods.
According to local expert Paweł Sygowski, the two tombs found in the cemetery are unique as they have not been found in other cemeteries throughout the Lublin district.
As the inscriptions are missing, it is difficult to determine who the graves belong to. However, Mr Sygowski has suggested several possibilities in his recent publication about Wąwolnica Jewish cemetery (download below).
The image below shows one of the two tombs recorded in the cemetery. The date of death occurred in 5615 according to the Jewish calendar (between 23rd September 1854 and 12 September 1855 in the Latin calendar). The inscription reads “And from this vine, an immature bunch was taken away”, suggesting that a young person was probably buried here.
Download our full report about Wąwolnica for details of our archaeological investigations, social action work and referencesDownload File