Jewish cemetery of Kostelec nad Labem

KOSTELEC NAD LABEM:         US Comm. No. CZCE000243
     Cemetery location: 700 meters SW of square at 337/45 Neratovicka Street. An alternate, German name, is Elbekosteletz. It is in Bohemia-Melnik at 50 14 latitude and 14 35 longitude, 19 km. NE of Praha.
     Present town population: 1000-5000 currently with no Jewish population.
     Town officials: Mestsky urad, nam. Kominskeho 1, 277 13 Kostelec nad Labem, tel. 0202/5101. Regional political authorities: 1. Okresni urad-odbor kultury, 276 01 Melnik, tel. 0206/2651 or 3051; 2. Jewish Congregation: ZNO Praha (Ms. Jana Wolfova), Maislova 18, 110 01 Praha 1, tel. 02/231-69-25. Also interested in site: 1. Okresni muzeum, Cs. Armady 19, 276 01 Melni,, tel. 0206/2845; 2. Statni zidovske muzeum, Jachymova 3, 110 01 Praha 1, tel. 02/231-06-34 or 231-07-85; and 3. Jiri Rad, Director of District Archives, 5 kvetna 110, 276 01 Melnik. The key is held by caretaker, Karel Smolik, Neratovicka 337/45, 277 13 Kostelec nad Labem.
     The earliest known Jewish community in town was in late 16th century. Jewish population in 1930 was 18. Noteworthy historical events: Jewish community probably banished after 1651; new congregation founded 1864; moving to big towns in 2nd half of 19th century. The Jewish cemetery was established in 1594. The last known Jewish burial was in 1948. The Jewish community probably was Conservative. Zlonin, 6 km away, and Libeznice, 8 km. away, used this cemetery. The cemetery probably is not protected.
     The cemetery location is suburban, on flat land and by water, and isolated, with no sign. The cemetery is reached through former house of Hevra Kaddisha at 337/45 Neratovicka. Access is open with permission. The cemetery is surrounded by a continuous masonry wall and a gate that locks.
     Size of cemetery before and after WWII was perhaps 0.1723 hectares. 100-500 gravestones are in cemetery, regardless of condition or position, with 100-500 in original locations and 1-20 not in original locations. 25%-50% of surviving stones toppled or broken. The oldest tombstones were removed in the 1970s. The oldest known gravestone is 1852. Tombstones in the cemetery are datable from the 19th and 20th centuries. The marble, granite, and sandstone tombstones and memorial markers are flat shaped stones, finely smoothed and inscribed stones, flat stones with carved relief decoration, and multi-stone monuments, some with portraits on stones and/or metal fences around graves, inscribed in Hebrew, German, and/or Czech. The cemetery contains no known mass graves.
     The present owner of the cemetery property is the Jewish community of Praha. The cemetery property is now used for Jewish cemetery purposes, waste dumping, and a garden. Properties adjacent are agricultural and residential. The cemetery, visited occasionally by private visitors, was vandalized between 1945 and ten years ago. Within the limits of the cemetery, there is a pre-burial house now used as a living room.
     Past maintenance: re-erection of stones, cleaning of stones, clearing of vegetation, and fixing of wall by Jewish groups within the country before 1950. Current care: occasional clearing or cleaning by individuals and by regular caretaker. The caretaker is probably paid by the Jewish Congregation of Praha.
     The vegetation overgrowth in the cemetery is a seasonal problem preventing access. Pollution and vegetation are a moderate threat. Vandalism and incompatible nearby development (existing, planned or proposed) is a slight threat.
     Jiri Fiedler, Brdickova 1916, 155 00 Praha 5, tel. 02/55-33-40 on completed the survey 30 June 1992 using the following documentation: 1. Justin Prasek: Brandejs nad Labem(1908-1913); 2. Jahrbuch fur die israelische Cultusgemeinden Bohmens (1894095); 3. Notes of Statni zidovske muzeum Praha; 4. Cemetery Book (1870-1948); and 5. 1984 letter of widow of the last grave-digger. Other documentation exists but was inaccessible: Nos. 26, 35, 36, 59, 60, 64 in archives of Jewish congregation in Prague. Fiedler visited the site in 1990 and interviewed K. Smolik [see above].

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