In April 2023, The European Friends of the POLIN Museum were able to visit Warsaw and the Museum. Yet it was not an ordinary visit. We participated in a series of events commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (19 April 1943 – 19 April 2023).
Among many moving visits, we went through the Jewish Cemetery in Warsaw, accompanied by its director, Witold Wrzosinski. He is a genealogist, Hebraist, and member of the Board of the Jewish Community in Warsaw.
This Wola District Jewish Cemetery was established in 1806 beyond the city trenches (okopy), their course marked by today’s Okopowa Street. The cemetery occupies an area of 33.4 ha. It is the resting place of over 200,000 persons: spiritual leaders, political activists, creators of Jewish culture; eminent contributors to Polish cultural, economic and social life, thousands of nameless victims of the ghetto; many generations of Jews Varsovians.
The Jewish Religious Community of Warsaw is its sole owner. The Okopowa Street Cemetery remains Warsaw’s only active Jewish cemetery; burials are still conducted there. It is a place of reverence and reverie bound by laws applicable in perpetuity. Its land and burials are inviolable, while the men entering it are required to cover their heads. This Jewish cemetery is also a unique landmark of Warsaw visited by tens of thousands of tourists every year. It was listed in the register of historical buildings and monuments in the year 1973 and remains under the protection of the Office of Historic Preservation of the Capital City of Warsaw.