The Boskovice Jewish cemetery

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by captain oddsocks on September 6, 2005

The Boskovice Jewish cemetery/Židovský Hřbitov contains some 2500 graves dating from the mid 1600’s and is situated in the typical position on a hill above the town, far enough away so as not to be in the plain sight of citizens going about their everyday business. The cemetery measures 14258 square metres and is said to be the third-largest in the Czech Republic after those in Prostějov and Frýdek-Místek. (Other large Jewish cemeteries are in Olomouc, Brno, Mikulov and Trebíc).

Even though the Boskovice Jewish cemetery dates only from the 17th century, there was a Jewish community in Boskovice as early as the 14th century. The location of the previous cemetery is not known for certain, but is believed to have been in the same area, some 200m closer to the town. The current cemetery is believed to have been founded when the expanding residential Jewish quarter encroached upon the area of the original one.

Most of the legibly marked graves in the cemetery date from the 18th century. Many of the older gravestones have suffered extensive damage due to the effects of the weather and some have almost disintegrated completely. The graves are arranged in orderly rows, although the rampant ivy and haphazard collection of trees that grew spontaneously in the years after World War Two will try to convince you otherwise. Small pathside stones with Hebrew and Arabic numerals are the markers for individual sections of the cemetery.

The cemetery shows a wide variation in the status of the members of the Jewish community. The graves of the wealthier or more respected citizens are towards the front of the cemetery and many of the gravestones show a high degree of craftsmanship. The most valuable historically are those of the Baroque South-Moravian or Mikulov type, from the middle of the eighteenth century. The style combines the usual elements of headstone design with those of the regional folk art. Typically the main panel of text will be bordered by pilasters at each side and an ornamental scroll at the top. The Mikulov type also incorporates floral and plant motifs into the decorative border area and tends to be of a more ornate overall shape. The gravestones of the less wealthy citizens towards the rear of the cemetery are much plainer, the simplest ones consisting of a rectangular tablet topped by a semicircle.

Most of the more recent (from the mid-19th century) graves are larger, and some are carved from white marble. Unlike the older Hebrew gravestones, the inscriptions are often in German and there are even several in Czech (The German language was not allowed to be used on public memorials after 1945). The last burial took place here in 1949.

The Boskovice Jewish Cemetery
Potoní ulice
Boskovice, Czech Republic

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