Chrzanow New Jewish Cemetery
The second “large” or “new” Jewish cemetery in Chrzanów was established near the old cemetery following the purchase of additional land. Both cemeteries were surrounded by a common wall in the first half of the 19th century. During World War II, the cemetery was used for carrying out executions and burials of Jews confined in the ghetto. There is a mass grave of 37 Jews from Chrzanów in the centre of the cemetery who were murdered by the Nazis in Trzebinia (now marked with a monument) at the beginning of September 1939. The cemetery survived the war in relatively good condition but suffered devastation in the post-war years. From 1945 to 1961, the watchman’s house was destroyed, large parts of the cemetery wall were pulled down, and most of the matzevot were knocked down. The funeral home was pulled down between 1968–1973, during which time the boundaries of the cemetery were narrowed.
About 3,000 matzevot have survived in the currently preserved area of approximately 1.71 hectares. The oldest tombstone is from 1802, and the most recent dates to 1949. In 2005–2007, at the initiative of the Jewish community and local authorities of Chrzanów, the cemetery was thoroughly restored. The cemetery wall and the ohels were repaired, the fallen stelae were re-erected, and about 1,500 tombstones were inventoried. Shlomo Bochner, a student of Elimelech from Leżajsk (died 1828), who died in 1828, is buried in the ohel to the north of the cemetery. Leaders of the Halbersztam dynasty are buried in the ohel in the southern end of the cemetery, including the following: Dawid, a son of Chjima (d. 1894); Josef Zeew, Mojżesz, and Naftali – the sons of Dawid (d. 1902, 1915, 1927); and Józef Elimelech and Baruch – the sons of Mojżesz (d. 1906, 1916). The cemetery suffered further devastation in 2009 and about 50 stelae were damaged. A list of tombstones is available at the following address: http://www.gidonim.com/tombstones/chrzanow.
The first mention of Chrzanów dates to 1179. It was first a ducal town known for its iron and lead sediments. The town was founded in the 14th century. Jewish settlement in the town dates back to the end of the 16th century (at least 1590) and an independent Jewish community was established in 1745 at which time the Ossoliński family owned the town. From 1790, the Jews of Libiąż Mały were subordinate to the community. In 1781, the town owner issued a statute regulating the obligations and relations between Catholics and Jews. After the incorporation of Chrzanów into the Habsburg monarchy in 1846, the Jewish community was deprived of its rights for several years and, under the new constitution of December 21, 1867, the Jewish population was legally equated with the Christian population.
In 1880, Jews constituted 58.9% of the total population (3,591 out of 6,098 people). From 1888 to 1920, they had a decisive advantage in the town council. Until 1912, the mayor of Chrzanów was a Jew – Dr. Zygmunt Keppler. In 1901, the statute of the Jewish community in Chrzanów was approved, which included 60 neighbouring villages under its administration. Among the prominent rabbis and leaders of the community were the descendants of the tzadik known as Diwrej Chaim (Chaim ben Arje Lejb Halberstam). Chrzanów was also associated with the cantor Hirsz Lejb Bakon and a member of the Polish Government in London – Ignacy Schwarzbart. Despite the Jewish community’s large population (6,328 people in 1921), the community was rather poor in the interwar period and most made a living in crafts and trade. During the Nazi occupation in 1941, the Germans established a ghetto in the town. Jews from nearby towns and cities were resettled there as well. After the liquidation of the ghetto in February 1943, most of them were transported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, and some were sent to labour camps. After the war, 105 Jews returned to the town, more than half of whom left by 1950.