Prudnik New Jewish Cemetery
Prudnik was established under Magdeburg Law in 1279. In the 14th and 15th centuries, Prudnik was under Czech rule. The first records of Jewish settlement date back to 1350. In 1524, 25 Jews lived there. Two years later, Prudnik was under the authority of German emperors. Under the Habsburgs, the Jewish community initially grew. In 1540, a synagogue was built and a year later, a cemetery was established. As a result of an increase in trade conflicts with Catholic merchants, pogroms, and general anti-Semitism, Jews were expelled from the city in 1570. In 1742, Prudnik was incorporated into Prussia under the changed name of Neustadt in Oberschlesien. The Jewish population returned to Prudnik after the “Emancipation Edict” in 1812. In 1840, Jews constituted 2.3% of the population (126 people).
Until the Second World War, the Jewish community was not numerous, but they were financial elite of the town. One of the most influential figures was Samuel Fränkel, who, together with his partners, their donations and financial support, significantly contributed to the development of Prudnik. The period of development of the Jewish community ended with the Night of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht) on November 9-10, 1938, during which the local synagogue was burned down. As part of the “Aryanization,” the Fränkl family had to hand over their textile factory to the Nazi authorities. Growing anti-Semitism forced many Jews to leave the town, and in 1939, only 79 remained. In 1940, a forced labor camp was established in the town. From the camp, the Jews of Prudnik were deported to various ghettos in Zagłębie Dąbrowskie in July 1942. In January 1945, a march of prisoners evacuated from Auschwitz-Birkenau went through the town. Many of them were shot in Prudnik, and after the war, the bodies of 27 victims were exhumed and placed in the new local Jewish cemetery.
The new Jewish cemetery was established in 1860 in the northwestern part of the town in the area purchased a year earlier by Samuel Fränkel. It covered an area of 0.2 hectares and was surrounded by a wrought-iron fence. From the south, there was a funeral house built in the neo-Romanesque style from the second half of the 19th century. In 1939, the cemetery became the property of the Reich Association of Jews in Germany and miraculously survived the Second World War almost intact. Unfortunately, though, acts of vandalism and theft occurred after the war.
About 140 tombstones made of marble, granite, and sandstone with inscriptions in Hebrew and German and a fragment of the original fence have been preserved in the cemetery to today. The layout of the burials and alleys is organized. Some stelae are overturned and broken. The tombstone of the Fränkl family stands out among the tombstones. In the western part of the cemetery, there is a stone plaque honoring the prisoners of Auschwitz-Birkenau murdered during the evacuation in January 1945. In the mid-1980s, the funeral house was taken over by the Pentecostal Church. After its renovation in 1990, it now serves as a prayer room. The cemetery is regularly cleaned by the local council and is under the care of the members of the neighboring congregation. It entered the Register of Monuments of the Opolskie Voivodeship in 1977.