Kalvarija Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Marijampolė County
Site address
Next to the Sesupe river on Geliu g. Street.
GPS coordinates
54.41559, 23.2407
Perimeter length
1.15 km
Is the cemetery demolished
Type and height of existing fence
Type of the fence
Preservation condition
Fenced and protected Jewish cemetery
General site condition
Fenced and protected Jewish cemetery. The cemetery is well-maintained.
Number of existing gravestones
around 230.
Date of oldest tombstone
1907 (the earliest tombstone found by ESJF).
Date of newest tombstone
1940 (the latest tombstone found by ESJF).
Urgency of erecting a fence
Land ownership
Property of local community
Preserved construction on site
Drone surveys

Historical overview

Given the oldest preserved tombstone is dated 1907, it can be inferred the cemetery was already in use by the early 20th century.

Kalvarija (Pl. Kalwaria, Yid. קאַלוואַריִע) was founded in the 17th century, but there is evidence that the village of Trabi, which preceded it, already was home to a group of Jewish weavers. A royal decree allowed the construction of a synagogue in 1713. A new stone building replaced it in 1803. In 1827, the town had a Jewish population of 3,072, or 56% of the total. The community had close ties with Königsberg and was much influenced by the German Haskalah. The 1880s witnessed a Jewish emigration to the US, South Africa and Palestine. The community maintained several synagogues, a talmud-torah, a government-approved school and a school for poorer students. Zionists became active very early. In 1897, the Jewish population was 3,581, or 38% of the total. After the turmoil of WWI, community life was revived. According to the first census of the Independent Lithuanian state, there were 1,233 Jews in Kalvarija in 1923. The Jewish People’s Bank (Folksbank) had a branch in the town. Emigration continued in the interwar period, and on the eve of WWII there were about 1,000 Jews in Kalvarija. In 1939, the community accommodated some 800 Jewish refugees from the German-occupied Suwałki area. In 1940, Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union. After the German invasion in 1941, Jews were seized for forced labour and then transferred to Marijampolė and murdered. The local Lithuanians led by the priest demolished Jewish shops and used the bricks to build a new church fence.