Burials in the Okopowa St. Cemetery from 1804 to 2010

Okopowa St. Cemetery Maps and Statistics

To make it easier to decide which section of the Okopowa St. Cemetery that volunteers will photograph (as part of the Okopowa St. Project), I’ve been looking at the maps and existing data, to see if I could provide information that would be helpful.

While most cemeteries that existed before WWII in Poland have little in the way of maps to guide you around the cemetery, the Okopowa St. Cemetery has a glut of them. The problem is that these maps are not always consistent. Take for example, the following maps I located online:

Okopowa St. Cemetery Map found on Gesia Okopowa St. Cemetery Map found on JRI-Poland Photo of Okopowa St. Cemetery map on location, found on Wikimedia Commons Okopowa St. Cemetery Map designed by JHI
Gesia JRI-Poland Wikimedia JHI

These are just four maps, and there are several more available. The three on the left are all fairly similar. They all leave out sections 1A and 1L (sub-sections of section 1), and they have two section 8s, instead of an 8 and 8A.

The map on the right, which is what I initially used to set up the section groups for this project, was designed by the Jewish Historical Institute, and is posted on the web site of the Jewish Community of Warsaw. Unlike the others, this map has a single section called 105, which on on the other maps is divided among 105, 106, and 107. This map has a section 8A replacing one of the two section 8s in the other maps.

None of these maps show section 7, which is actually in the lower portion of section 15, above where section 8A is on the JHI map.

The largest source of information on the burials in the Okopowa St. Cemetery in in the online database created by the Foundation for the Documentation of Jewish Cemeteries in Poland (FDJCP). If you take a look at the database and the information on more than 82,000 burials, you can get overwhelmed. As I mentioned previously (in The challenges of online cemetery research) the FDJCP database has very strict searching, so for example searching for Cohen returns nothing, but Kohen has several hits. The database has a lot of information, but also does not match up with any of these maps.

While all of the maps shows sections 2A, 2B, and 2C, the database is completely missing section 2B. It’s also missing any data on Section 5A (which is in all of the maps), has sections 12A and 12B (not on any map, although there are 2 section 12s, so presumably they’ve divided those into A and B), is missing section 16 (but does have 16A), has a 17A which is not on any map, has sections 64, 64A, and 64B, while the three maps on the left show two sections called 64, the JHI map shows those two sections labeled 64A and 64B, but does not have a third section called 64, and lastly the database is missing sections 101, 102, 103, 104, 106 and 107 altogether.

Taking a look at the data, you can extrapolate some interesting statistics. Keeping in mind that the data is not complete (gravestones that are damaged, sunken, or missing cannot contribute their information), sometimes has inaccuracies (such as the wrong gender assigned to a burial record), I’ve put together some information on burials, which will be useful in choosing a section to photograph. To start, when did the burials take place in the cemetery? Here’s a chart showing the number of burials per year, starting in 1800 and going to 2010. The first burial is actually 1804, although older stones are less likely to be in readable condition at this point, so the chart is probably skewed to more recent burials. This chart is what is known according to the FDJCP database:

Burials in the  Okopowa St. Cemetery from  1804 to 2010

What you can see in the chart is that the burials are low in number up until about the 1850s, and then they rise dramatically until there’s a huge peak during WWI and the subsequent Spanish Flu outbreak. There’s another small peak about 10 years later (any have a theory as to what that is?), then a large drop in 1938-1940, followed by a big spike in 1941. In 1942 there are still over 500 burials, but after the war the cemetery will never see more than 25 burials a year (while before the war it averaged well over a thousand a year).

Keeping in the differences in the sections mentioned above, I’ve also figured out how many burials there are, and how many rows of gravestones, are in each section. According the the FDJCP database, the sections have the following stats (explanation below):

SectionRowsBurialsGender
m21151MF
zih5215MF
153922M*
1A128M
1L782M*
213105F*
2A20503MF
2C1065F
323372MF
3A26409M
434483M
4A22367F
4B29487MF
5351122MF
624705MF
7568MF
823675MF
8A14255MF
924439MF
1012352MF
1130554F
12A31371MF
12B29863MF
1315381M*
13A16722M
1413304F*
1536752MF
16A22194F*
17351919M*
17A8270MF
18351747M
1935452MF
2011187MF
2112134F
2227603MF
22A351111F
2324679F
2419444MF
2514248M
2610154MF
2713158F
2829530MF
29381136MF
3022894F*
3115449MF
32211278M
3311495MF
3414641F*
3517698M*
3611458MF
37271765M*
38231141F*
39321293F*
4011352MF
41321020F*
42261036MF
43201077F*
44369MF
44A378MF
44B382MF
45351444M*
4611363MF
47221098M*
489329M*
4919857M*
5019807M*
51351255M*
5210220MF
53221007F
5417564MF
5520882F
56351735F*
5713663MF
58241771M
59161543F*
6016690MF
6213475F*
6311376F*
64389MF
64A383MF
64B12306MF
65461768M*
6633545M*
6718399F
686103MF
691394MF
714571MF
73362883M*
73A1262MF
74232406F*
75252620M
76232302F*
7725945M*
7820796F*
7918941F
8023665M*
83291419M*
84321147M
85371277MF
86411287F*
87301598MF
88311225M*
8926820F
90725MF
9113421F*
9216443M
9319162MF
9416290M*
9531392F*
9633548MF
9733793F
9814363MF
9931864MF
10024552M*
105198MF

Each section of the cemetery is listed, including two sections not on any map – m and zih. m refers to pieces of gravestones that were incorporated into the wall near the entrance to the cemetery, and zih is the Polish initials of the Jewish Historical Institute (JHI), which apparently managed a section of the cemetery at some point decades ago.

For each section, you can see how many rows there are in the section, and how many burials. You can also see if the section is all or mostly one gender. M or F for Male or Female, and MF for both. When there’s an asterisk after the letter (i.e. F*), it means the section is almost completely that gender, but there may be a few burials of the opposite gender mixed in. Within each section, even if it is labeled MF, it’s not uncommon for large numbers of rows to be of a single gender.

The information has been added to the Google Sheet for volunteer sign-ups, although since the sections don’t exactly match up to the map the section list is based on, not every section has information, and some may be off (such as Section 5 in the database including what on the map and section list is both section 5 and section 5A).

I hope this makes it easier for volunteers to choose a section to photograph, and will help people coordinate which rows they will photograph when splitting up the work.

4 thoughts on “Okopowa St. Cemetery Maps and Statistics

  1. I found your article very interesting. I visited the cemetary after finding a relative’s matzevah on the internet. Sadly only his matzevah was found and not his wife.

    I suggest you contact Przemyslaw Szpilman who is the director of the Jewish Cemetary on Opotow St. in Warsaw. Maybe he has a better and more up-to-date map of the cemetary.
    His email is: [email protected]

  2. Hi Philip,

    I’ve just signed up to do a few of the smaller sections while I’m in Warsaw at the conference, but may be able to do more. I’ll see how I go, and check back on what sections are available.

    What a great idea this is – I hope you get some more volunteers.

    Naomi

    1. Thank you for signing up. I will be at the Share Fair recruiting volunteers, and I am hoping some people will post photos this week, and show people what’s possible.

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