Koprivnica Jewish Cemetery
The Jewish cemetery of Koprivnica was built three kilometers from the town in 1842 and the “Hevra Kadisha” was established in 1888. In 2009, the cemetery was in a rather good condition with about 250 existing tombstones, including five family mausoleums on the site. The inscriptions on the oldest tombstones are in Hebrew and the later ones in German and Croatian. A few are in Hungarian. The oldest tombstone dates back to 1836 and the latest to 2017. The cemetery has a monument to Jewish soldiers who were killed during WWI. In 1975, a monument to Holocaust victims was erected. There is the ceremonial hall in the cemetery. It was recently reconstructed and now serves as the Holocaust memorial.
Koprivnica is a city in the northern Croatia and the capital of the Koprivnica-Križevci County. The castle of Koprivnica was first mentioned in 1272. The 14th century was ‘the golden age’ for the town as it became the administration, trading and credit center of the region. Until the second half of the 17th century, Koprivnica was among the most developed royal towns in the country. The fortress of the town was one of the main bases for the army in Slavonia. The economic growth of the town was initially based on strong trade activity and the privilege of organizing three fairs a year. At the beginning of the 18th century, there were more than 2500 inhabitants in the town. During the 19th century, industry developed due of to the construction of railway stations near the town. Food industry and chemical plants were the main industries in the town and local area. The population of Koprivnica numbered 5,700 people in 1896.
The first Jews came to Koprivnica from Moravia and Austria at the end of the 17th century. In 1810, there were 23 Jews and they worked predominantly in crafts, trade, and agricultural production. Many Jews were in involved in the town’s industrial revolution, especially as many Jews were the owners and managers of factories and plants. For example, the famous plant “Deniza” was under Jewish management and employed 600 workers.
The Jewish community was organized in the middle of the 19th century. In 1875, the synagogue was erected in the center of the town. It was designed by the famous architects Hönigsberg and Deutsch in a Renaissance style and built at the same time as the Jewish school. The language at the Jewish school was German. Most of the Jewish population was Ashkenazi; there were only 3 Sephardic families in Koprivnica. In 1896, there were 398 Jews. The relationship between the Jewish community and the local population was friendly, but during the Second World War, the fate of Koprivnica Jews was similar to other Jews in Croatia. They were deported from Koprivnica by Croatian nationalists to different concentration camps where they perished.
From the 358 Jews who lived in the town prior to the war, there is only historical proof of 214 deaths during the conflict. The rest are unaccounted. The last rabbi of the Koprivnica Jewish community, Israel Kohn, was tortured in a concentration camp. The synagogue was one of a few synagogues in Croatia that remained after the war. It was sold to the local municipality in 1948. After the war, only five Jews lived in the town, but during the 1990s, the Jewish community grew. Nowadays there are 50 Jews living in Koprivnica. The synagogue was renovated in 2013 and turned into a concert hall.