Tag Archives: maps

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.

Looking for a house in Germany

It’s no secret that there has been a large increase in antisemitic incidents across Europe in recent years. No one I’m sure missed the events in France last month, where in addition to the murder of eleven employees of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo (and a Muslim policeman outside the office building), a different terrorist two days later murdered four people in a Kosher supermarket on the outskirts of Paris.

You probably also heard about the murder of five (originally it was reported as four, but one victim later died of their wounds) people in the Jewish Museum in Brussels, Belgium in May of last year. The terrorist believed to have carried out that attack was later caught in France, having French and Algerian citizenship, and having fought in Syria for ISIS before returning to France in 2013. If convicted he would be the first European to have gone to fight for ISIS and then to have returned to Europe to carry out an attack.

You may, however, have not noticed an event that happened last summer in a city called Wuppertal, Germany. Last August, three men, whose roots are Palestinian, firebombed the Bergische Synagogue in Wuppertal. The synagogue was originally burnt to the ground by Nazis during Kristallnacht in 1938, and had been rebuilt only in 2002. The synagogue did not burn to the ground this time, luckily, which is probably why the story did not receive a tremendous amount of mainstream coverage. The court proceedings were recently held, and the three men were found guilty of arson, but amazingly the court declared it was not an antisemitic act (presumably such a declaration would have been similar to the US hate crime designation which would have increased the punishment). The terrorists were given suspended sentences and ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service. I wonder if after the original synagogue was burnt to the ground, the courts then also gave a slap on the wrist to the perpetrators? Maybe they didn’t punish them at all in 1938, so this is I guess an improvement? It’s incredibly scary that terrorists can throw molotov cocktails at a Jewish house of worship, and it’s not considered a hate crime. If things continue to deteriorate in Germany in particular, and Europe generally, this moment might be looked back upon as a turning point where hate crimes were justified and allowed to happen without serious punishment. Certainly the next terrorists in Germany who are thinking about attacking a synagogue will decide the risk is low for them, since these terrorists only got community service as punishment.

So what does all this have to do with a house? and genealogy? I don’t hear about Wuppertal very often, so when I do it of course focuses my thoughts on my family that used to live there. My grandfather had two uncles that lived in Wuppertal. They both fled Germany as soon as they could after Kristallnacht, one making it to the US and one heading to British-Mandate Palestine. The one who made it to the US was a prolific collector of family photos, which I am grateful for in my genealogy research. One photo I came across many years ago was a photo of his house in Wuppertal:

wuppertal-house

It’s hard to read the street name, at least for me. I couldn’t find the street name easily online. I thought perhaps the name had changed over time. I then remembered that years ago I found an old map of Wuppertal (then called Elberfeld-Barmen) which had a list of streets:

bf-elberfeld-map

I found the map years ago, and have long forgotten where I found it, but had kept it with a folder of historic maps that I keep on towns where I had family. Taking a look at the street list, I came across Katernberger Strasse, in squares D1 and D2 on the map. Remember using grid squares to find locations on maps? People who have only known Google Maps and other electronic options, probably have never had to use grid coordinates on a map to find the street they want. In any case, armed with the name I did a search on, of course, Google Maps, and found the following:

bf-wuppertal-house-google

Seems to be a match. Note that there are what look like light-rail tracks running down the street in the photo from the 1930s, while the current photo shows no tracks.  Interestingly Wuppertal is famous for having the world’s oldest operating monorail, the Wuppertal Suspension Railway, which started operating in 1901. In any case, the building now seems to be a restaurant. From what I can find online the photo from Google isn’t current, because that particular restaurant is no longer there.

I wonder what the history of that building has been since my family fled Germany. Who was it sold to when my family left? Who lived in it since then? When did it become a restaurant? Did the various residents of the building know that a Jewish family once lived there? Is there still evidence in the building of things like outlines of mezuzahs in some of the door frames?

Map of Kańczuga from the Second Military Survey (1806-1869)

Historical Maps of the Hapsburg Empire

Recently I came across an interesting web site, called Mapire, which displays historical maps of the Hapsburg Empire. The maps currently correspond to three military surveys carried out in the time periods 1763-1787, 1806-1869, and 1869-1887. These periods cover different geopolitical periods, when the areas under control were variously called the Hapsburg Empire, the Austrian Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The military maps were created at a scale of 1:28,800. What’s really neat about the maps on Mapire, is that they are all synced to current digital maps, so when you zoom in on one of the military maps, it shows on the left side of the window, while the current digital map is shown on the right. An example, for the town of Kańczuga:

Map of Kańczuga from the Second Military Survey (1806-1869)
Map of Kańczuga from the Second Military Survey (1806-1869)

Cadastral Maps, another kind of state-created map, were created at a scale of 1:2,880, or ten times the resolution. This site does not yet have Cadastral Maps, although some Cadastral Maps for the Galicia region can be found in the Gesher Galicia Map Room.