The Abandoned Jewish Cemeteries of Poland

Daniel Kazimierski / An artist's journey into history

“Although I grew up in Warsaw, it was not until I was an adult, visiting from my home in New York, that I went to the Okopowa Street Jewish Cemetery. In fact, as a child, I had not even been aware it existed. In this cemetery, there are over 200,000 marked graves and mass graves for the victims of the ghetto and the Warsaw Uprising.

Since the Holocaust, there have been virtually no descendants of the dead to care for the graves. Many stones were removed by the Nazis to use as building materials or for paving roads. A small amount of restoration is underway, but acres and acres are sadly overgrown.

It is an indelibly haunting place, and my feelings there were best captured, for me, through my pinhole camera. In subsequent trips to Poland, I also photographed the “new” cemetery in Krakow, the vast cemetery in Lodz, and the small, rural one in Kazimierz Dolny.”