Vinkovci Jewish Cemetery
The Vinkovci Jewish cemetery still exists, though there only remains of tombstones and graves in the territory. The oldest tombstone dates to 1881 and the most recent to 1976. The ruins of the cemetery chapel were still there in 2009.
Vinkovci is a city in Slavonia, in Vukovar-Syrmia County. The area was already inhabited during the period of the Roman Empire. One of the most important cities in the region was Cibalae, a Roman city which was situated in the modern territory Vinkovci. It had a good road, a developed canal network, and large fortification walls. Two Roman emperors were born there: Valens and Valentinian I. In the 3rd century A.D., the city was the seat of the diocese. In the Middle Ages, there was only a small town in the place of the former Cibalae, which was recorded as an estate for serfs in 1267. The Turks occupied the region in 1526 and soon the whole territory of Slavonia was under Ottoman rule. In 1536, there were only 17 houses in the region. After the liberation of the region at the end of the 17th century, it became the headquarters for the border troops. In the 18th century, Vinkovci had a population of about 500. In the 19th century the city became an important railway junction and by 1900 the population grew to 8,500. Jews were forbidden from living there until 1860. However, settlers from Moravia, Slovakia, and Hungary began to arrive in the area around this time.
One of the first Jewish businessmen in Vinkovci was Ignatz Gross who opened a retail store in 1866. There were 272 Jews in the city in 1880. The first synagogue was built in 1860 and the new one was officially opened in 1923. The Jewish cemetery was built in 1870. The majority of Vinkovci’s Jews were craftsmen and people of free professions, only a few of them were tradesmen. There were 742 Jews in the city in 1921. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Jewish community of Vinkovci was one of the most significant in socialist and Zionist activity in Yugoslavia. The first rabbi of the community was Rabbi Solomon Neumann, followed by Rabbi Schoenfeld and Rabbi M. Frankfurter. The first official meeting of the rabbis from the whole country took place in Vinkovci in 1923. Before World War II, the Jewish population of the city was 630. During the Holocaustm the Jews of Vinkovci suffered the fate of all Jews in Croatia: they were deported from the city and perished in concentration camps. The synagogue was destroyed and turned into a warehouse by Croatian Nationalists in 1942, after which it was burned down by Nazis at the end of the war. Rabbi M. Frankfurter was horribly tortured by Croatian nationalists and died in the Jasenovac death camp. There were no more Jews in the city after war.