I stared out at the rows and rows of haunting tombstones at the Jewish Cemetery in Łódź, which was Poland's second-largest Jewish city before World War II.
I wasn’t prepared to feel so sad and devastated about seeing a cemetery where about 160,000 people are buried. But the Jewish history in Poland and in the rest of Eastern Europe is a tragic one.
The Jewish Cemetery on Bracka Street, established in 1892, sits on 40 hectacres (about 100 acres) and seemed enormous to me. In one section of the cemetery called the “Ghetto Field,” there are about 43,000 victims who died while they were living in awful conditions in the Jewish Ghetto in Łódź during WWII. In total, about 90,000 people have been identified, and the cemetery keeps a database of all the names that they have.
Many parts of the cemetery are covered in tall weeds, rambling vines, decaying branches and green moss.
The farther you wander from the main entrance, the more overgrown and wild the cemetery becomes. Fragments of tombstones lay on the greenery-covered earth. The engravings are faded.
I was lost in my own world, taking photos of the crumbling tombstones and continually questioning, how could the Nazi Germans have treated the Jewish people so horrendously?
In the 18 months that we’ve lived in Poland, I’ve read countless fiction and non-fiction books about WWII and Poland. I still cannot understand it. It’s not something I CAN understand.
To me, seeing the Jewish Cemetery in Łódź was almost as poignant as seeing Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps in person. I left with tears in my eyes.
Jewish Cemetery, ulica Bracka 40
Entrance and car park on ulica Zmienna.
Cost: 6 PLN/person (Admission is free on first Sunday every month.)Website: http://www.jewishlodzcemetery.org
|Surprisingly, there were several fancy mausoleums like these located on the right side of the cemetery. I'm assuming these families must still have living relatives since the grounds were so well maintained.|