Warszawa

I first visited the Okopowa Street cemetery in Warszawa for a few days in October, 2006. It was, and is, absolutely amazing. Without doubt sections of this cemetery are among the most desolate and abandoned places that I have seen anywhere in Poland.

One could spend many days in the cemetery.  It is, of course, huge and contains many fascinating stones.  The stones are substantially more “modern” and secular in appearance than is the case in smaller, more remote places and the same is true for the overall impression conveyed by the cemetery.  While the cemetery is still in use by the Jewish community of Warszawa and receives care and attention, it is simply so large that some areas are among the wildest that I have encountered anywhere and do not appear to have had visitors for literally decades, notwithstanding the cemetery’s location in the heart of bustling Warszawa, its status as a regular stop for tour groups, and its juxtaposition to the McDonalds just down the street.

In 2007 I passed through Warszawa briefly but the cemetery was closed for the Sabbath.  In 2010, my wife and I spent a gray afternoon visiting there once again.

Over the years I have had very mixed luck in gaining access to the Okopowa Street cemetery. On one occasion I was in town during High Holy Days and found the grounds locked. On a different trip I was locked out for the Sabbath with the result that I have learned to plan trips to Warszawa around Jewish religious holidays. However, in 2015, I managed to overlook Polish Constitution Day and arrived at the cemetery on May 3 only to find it secured and closed. Fortunately I was able to return the next day for a full day of work. The cemetery was as I have found it in the past–in parts derelict and abandoned to nature and in other parts filled with imposing and stylistically arresting stones. On this visit I had enough time to make a reasonably thorough tour of the grounds and found a number of interesting stones that I had not seen previously. Unfortunately at present the cemetery still seems larger than can be maintained by the Jewish community.