Mrągowo Jewish Cemetery
The Jewish cemetery in Mrągowo was established in 1859 at today’s Brzozowa Street no 2. The cemetery was located at the end of the Catholic cemetery, on land donated to the Jewish community by Justyna Timnik, the mayor’s widow. Until the cemetery was established, the followers of Judaism from Mrągowo buried their dead in Ryn or Młynów.
The cemetery was probably devastated in 1936 (or 1938), when the Nazis were to plant explosives under the tombstones of prominent members of the local Jewish community. The matzevot of the poorer Jews from the town remain in the cemetery. Partially destroyed, however, it survived the war. It was not until 1946 or 1947, most likely by the decision of the starost (the mayor) Krzewioński, that it was officially liquidated – all traces of the necropolis on the ground were removed. Apparently, single tombstones were to be found in the steps of the gates of the Evangelical cemetery and in the foundations of some houses built after the war.
In the 1980s, a dry-cleaner was built in the cemetery on the side of Brzozowa Street. On the rest of the parking lot. Today, the area of the former cemetery is highlighted by a scarp and individual trees (linden and maples) growing on the outskirts of the necropolis. In 2013, a matzevah from the cemetery was found. It went to the Mrągowo branch of the Museum of Warmia and Mazury. (sztetl.org.pl)
The only preserved tombstone – one from the grave of Josef Lorie, who died on December 27, 1915, found a few years ago in the buildings of the former Military Unit in Mrągowo – was preserved in the Mrągowo branch of the Museum of Warmia and Mazury. The cemetery is not entered in the Municipal Register of Monuments and the Register of Real Estate Monuments, it does not have a cemetery card. (K. Bielawski, cmentarze-zydowskie.pl)
The first Jews who obtained city rights settled in Mrągowo in 1812. In 1839 there were 78 Jews, within ten years their number decreased to 47. The kehilla was established in 1847, when the creation of synagogues was officially allowed. In 1888, the number of inhabitants of the commune increased to 148. In 1900, 103 people of the Mosaic faith lived in Mrągowo, and in 1905 – 220. The Jews of Mrągowo granted their commune the status of a district.
The local Jews constituted a diverse community in terms of wealth. They dealt mainly with merchants, offered textiles, footwear, ironware, etc. They worked as doctors, they also belonged to the auxiliary service in the hospital. They integrated more and more with their Christian neighbors.
After the end of World War I, the inhabitants of Mrągowo looked less and less favorably at the local Jews. Harassment and repression intensified as support for the NSDAP grew, even before the Nazis reached their full power. The culmination was the “Kristallnacht”. A brutal pogrom of the Jewish population also took place in Mrągowo. Hitlerjugend pupils, properly trained and equipped with addresses of Jews from the city and the surrounding area, began the operation on November 9, 1938, around four in the morning.
They burst into flats, threw objects and furniture onto the streets. They forced the rabbi to open a synagogue (the building of the present church), which they demolished. They ordered young Jews to take a rich collection of books to the yard in front of the former mental institution on ul. Roosevelt (later it housed the Youth Cultural Center, today the Standard disco). They made a fire and burned books and garments. Then the Jews from Mrągowo were transported towards Borowski Las. Some managed to escape, but never returned to their homes. In 1939, the Nazis proudly announced that no Jews lived in the city or in the entire poviat.
After the events of Kristallnacht in Mrągowo in 1938, the Jewish cemetery was completely left. It was located at the present intersection of Mrongowiusza and Brzozowa Streets, in the place where there is now a one-story building of a dry-cleaning house, painted white. However, the facility survived the war and in 1946 or 1947, most probably by the decision of the starost Czesław Krzewiński, it was officially liquidated – all traces of the necropolis on the ground were removed. (Mrągowo Tourist Information Center; www.it.mragowo.pl/zylismy-tu,1,4364,pl.html)