As majority of matzevot (gravestones) at the Jewish cemetery in Brzesko are made of cheap sandstone, the condition of many of them is quite deplorable. In many cases, inscriptions are no longer there and letters on other tombstones are barely visible. On the other hand, there exist no plans for the cemetery (except for the military quarters from World War I). Actually, up until now there have been only 2 sources of information on this topic: Brzesko Jewish vital records books (death records starting from 1877) and a small book by Iwona Zawidzka “Jewish cemetery in Brzesko (Brzesko, 2001), in which the author provides data on 277 inscriptions. However, there are many more tombstones at this cemetery, that is why we were looking for the way to document all the surviving inscriptions and locate individual graves.
In autumn 2017, we managed to contact Foundation for Documentation of Jewish Cemeteries in Poland. Thanks to private donors, primarily descendants of Brzesko Jews, we were able to raise money sufficient for the Foundation to start working, and in May 2018 Witold Wrzosiński and Remigiusz Sosnowski came to Brzesko for the first time.
I had an opportunity to observe their work and it was the most amazing experience. It turned out that sometimes a piece of chalk was enough to read almost invisible inscription. Witold and Remigiusz spent the whole day in Brzesko documenting inscriptions on about 300 tombstones. All these data are to be transferred to the Foundation’s website https://cemetery.jewish.org.pl/ Exact GPS coordinates will be assigned to the photos of each matzeva, which will make it possible to locate individual graves. In addition, all basic data from each inscription will be available in the database (name of the deceased and his/her parents, date of birth and death, etc.) It is also important that all information on the Foundation’s website is available in two languages, Polish and English, which means that the website can be used by all Polish- and English-speaking visitors, also descendants of Bresko Jews visiting the hometown of their ancestors.
It’s very moving to see how people who have been co-creating Brzesko for several centuries are returning from oblivion.