12 July 2007

Warsaw: JRI-Poland adds burials

Jewish Records Indexing-Poland associate director Hadassah Lipsius announced that 7,400 burials from the Warsaw Jewish Cemetery have been added to the searchable database.

In continuous use since the late 18th century, the Okopowa Street cemetery contains some 250,000 individual graves as well as mass graves containing thousads of Warsaw Ghetto residents. Most gravestones have survived, although the Nazis destroyed burial records during WW II.

In October 2003, new cemetery manager Przemyslaw Isroel Szpilman started a project to document all gravestones and locations as quickly as possible. With a digital camera (provided by JRI-Poland,) some 41,000 burials have been listed.

For more information on the database and how to obtain photos of tombstones, click here.

According to Lipsius, the cemetery also has a new website with a surname-searchable database complementary to the JRI-Poland database. Search results sometimes include the tombstone photo.

Besides Szpilman's data, JRI-Poland's database has two other Warszawa Cemetery data sets:

Warsaw Cemetery Database "A" contains data compiled by former
Warsaw Cemetery director Boleslaw Szenicer.

Warsaw Cemetery Database "B" contains 3,832 indices from an unusual source. In the late 1960s, the City of Warsaw planned to extend Anielewicza Street (formerly Gesia Street) to connect with Mlynarska Street through the cemetery's southern section. Gravesites in various sections were to have been removed. In preparation, stones were photograped, deciphered and recorded by Warsaw University students. After strong opposition to the road extension, plans were cancelled. Photos and documentation were given to the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw.

According to Lipsius, there are overlaps between the three datasets. Szpilman's data is the only active database continually updated.

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