Gdańsk Chelm Jewish Cemetery (formerly known as Danzig Stolzenberg Jewish Cemetery)
The necropolis is located in a range of hills within the Chełm district. The area of the cemetery was gradually enlarged and today it covers an area of 2.3 ha. The cemetery had its own funeral building.
Due to the repeated expulsion of Jews from the area of Stare Szkoty and Gdańsk, there are no tombstones from the beginning of the 18th century at the cemetery. There are, however, burials of prominent figures of the Jewish community in Gdańsk, including rabbis: Elchanan Aszkenazy (1714–1780); Meir Posner, son of Jehuda Loeb Munk (1728–1803) and Israel, son of Gedalia, Lipschuetz (died 1860), an eminent expert on the Talmud.
The cemetery was not damaged during World War II. It was closed in 1956, and in 1968 it was desacrated. The preserved matzevot (around 500) with inscriptions in Hebrew and German, come from the younger part of the necropolis. A partially destroyed ohel in the neo-Romanesque style has also been preserved. In the 1980s, local social activists planned to revitalize the cemetery, but there was a shortage of funds. In 1984 it was entered into the registry of monuments. In the second half of the 1980s, during a partial inventory carried out by Jacek Walicki and Jarosław Sellin, several tombstones from 1711 were unearthed under the layer of soil.
In 2002, the cemetery was taken over by the Jewish Community of Gdańsk. In the years 2006–2008 the area was cleaned and fenced; the matzevot were placed on concrete plinths, and some were renovated. In 2009, new matzevot were erected on the graves of rabbis Elchanan Aszkenazy and Meir Posner.
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The cemetery was probably founded in the second half of the 16th century, but older sources from mortgage books in Jerusalem, date back to 1694. Until the 1730s, the cemetery was not used as a result of the displacement of the Jewish inhabitants of Stare Szkoty and Winnica. In 1723, a second Jewish cemetery was established in Gdańsk, located at the foot of Grodzisk.
Burials re-continued in the Chełm Jewish cemetery in the mid-18th century. In 1749, the cemetery was expanded and during this period, the deceased were buried only at the top of the hill. At that time, the community used the services of a Chevra Kadisha – a funeral fraternity – located in Stare Szkoty. During the period in question, some of the Jews living in Chełm (in the years 1772–1813 it was a separate city and, encouraged by the Prussian authorities, it was intended to be a centre competitive to Gdańsk), obtained trade privileges and protected title. This group included, inter alia, the officials of the religious community.
During the Napoleonic campaign of 1807, the necropolis was destroyed. 2,000 thalers were spent on repairing the damage, 1,500 of which were donated by Benedykt Stargardt, a member of the Chevra Kadischa in Stare Szkoty. In 1813, the town of Chełm was razed to the ground. The cemetery continued to function, but was used less frequently.
In 1840, the Jewish cemetery at the foot of Grodzisk was closed and the Jews buried there were exhumed: among them, three soldiers from the French army and one from the Prussian army. In 1851, the entire necropolis in Chełm was surrounded by a decorative fence. Nearby, there was also the house of the cemetery guard. In 1884, thanks to the efforts of the Funeral Brotherhood, a funeral home was built in the north-west corner of the cemetery. In 1911 it was replaced with a wooden building, no less impressive than the previous one, and designed by the famous Gdańsk architect Adolf Bielefeldt. Inside there was a separate room for the rabbi, in which there were portraits of distinguished community members buried here. In the years 1906–1911 and 1916–1917, further works were carried out: a road leading to the necropolis was built and a tomb (ohel, preserved to this day) was erected for the board of the religious community.
During the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th century, the necropolis expanded to include new areas: almost the entire slope of the hill and its foot, up to Cmentarna Street. After 1900, this part of the cemetery resembled a park: with terraces, crossing paths, and rabbis’ tombs. In the years 1934–1936 the entire necropolis took on the features of a park: trees were planted, alleys marked out, and terraces and ponds with carp were established on the slope of the hill. The cemetery survived in this state until 1968, although after World War II, burials were stopped there. In 1984, the cemetery was entered into the registry of monument.
(Alicja Młyńska; https://histmag.org/Cmentarz-zydowski-na-gdanskim-Chelmie-4677 )