The Jewish cemetery in Dolga vas

Authors: Oto Luthar, Martin Pogačar, Klaudija Sedar, Ivanka Huber, Jerneja Fridl, Lucija Lavrenčič, Marko Zaplatil

The Jewish cemetery in Dolga vas near Lendava is the only preserved Jewish cemetery in Slovenia. A short driveway off the regional road running from Lendava towards the former border crossing at Dolga vas first leads to a mortuary with two memorial plaques. One bears the inscription: “In memory of those buried in the Beltinci cemetery”. The other one, which is of an earlier date, contains the data on the construction of the mortuary. The latter was built in 1906, when the religious charity Chevra was led by Jakab Schwarz.

At first sight, a little more than 60 metres long and the 50 metres wide cemetery appears quite ordinary, but from up close it presents itself as a unique monument to Jewish culture. It is divided into three sections: the central burial grounds reserved for the members of the Chevra kadisha as well as their wives and unmarried daughters, the general area outside this section and separate burial grounds for children. Rare sources document different numbers of gravestones ranging: 1281, 1762 and 1813. The discrepancy is attributed to inexact counting, which may have been due to the overgrowth and neglect of the terrain itself. Having carried out multiple counts and surveys of more or less preserved gravestones, we have found their number to be slightly higher, 191, including the memorial for all Shoah victims who are in this case generally regarded as the victims of Fascism. The memorial honouring the memory of 387 Prekmurje victims of genocide was built in 1947 by a group of four Auschwitz survivors (Weis and Blau from Lendava and Fürst from Murska Sobota4). The last funeral at the Jewish cemetery in Dolga vas took place in 1998, with the burial of Ludvik Blau.

Epitaphs on gravestones in stone or black marble are in Hungarian, Hebrew, German and Slovene. Most inscriptions are in Hungarian, while many are illegible and, due to the decayed stone, appear only as faint remnants of what were once monuments.

Of particular interest to Slovenes are Hungarian inscriptions bearing the names of married women who were identified through the names of their husbands. Therefore, for instance, a Mrs Betti Weisz who married a Mr Ben Wortmann was identified on the joint gravestone as the wife of Mr Wortmann, hence as Wortmann Benőne szül. Similar applies to indications of dates, which Hungarian cites in reverse order of year, month and day.

Most gravestone inscriptions contain the date of birth and death, while some only bear the indication of the deceased’s age, e.g. élt 69 évet (lived for 69 years). Several inscriptions also contain the names of those who died in the concentration camp, whereby Auschwitz is spelled either as Auschwitz, Ausvic or Aušvic.

Similar variety is observed in dimensions, materials and architectural design of gravestones and graves, as one can easily determine the century or even decade of their origin. Certainly the most striking are the magnificent, almost extravagant bourgeois monuments erected at the end of the 19th and first half of the 20th century. They immediately catch the visitor’s eye, not only for their size and the selection of materials but for their elaborately carved and gilded inscriptions and decorations. Their rivals in beauty, carved stone monuments of an earlier date, are somewhat more modest in size but much more remarkable for the mastery of their construction, although their inscriptions have been largely degraded. Several among them are comparable with their counterparts across Europe. Most of these monuments have significantly deteriorated; many have fallen and others barely resemble a headstone.

The most heartfelt sorrow emanates from the children’s gravestones. Despite their time-ravaged appearance and the decaying iron fence separating the children’s graveyard from the rest of the grounds, they immediately stir genuine affection in the visitor while being inadvertently reminiscent of Slovenian village graveyards exhibiting similar differentiation by social standing and age.

On the other hand, there is a striking difference between this and all other cemeteries in the province. A difference manifested through seclusion, emptiness and neglect. There are rarely any visitors to be found here. And those who come by are most often tourist rather than relatives.

Once or twice a year, the cemetery also comes alive with groups of school children and their ambitious teachers who truly appreciate the importance of the Jewish community for the regional history. The result of one such school trip is also a list of monuments which was drawn up in the school year 2008/2009 by third grade pupils of the bilingual secondary school in Lendava under the mentorship of Vesna Šašič Göntér. The aforementioned list has been of enormous help to the authors of this growing collection, which will not be complete until it also includes the transliteration and translation of Hebrew inscriptions.

1 Gašpar M., Lazar B. (1997). Židje v Lendavi. Also accessible on the Lendava Municipality website:, obtained on 2 May 2011.
2 Dolga vas near Lendava, the Jewish cemetery, accessible at: and Jews in Slovenia accessible at:, pridobljeno 2. 5. 2011
3 A project assignment of third grade pupils of the secondary school in Lendava in the school year 2008/2009 titled Holokavst – popis spomenikov na judovskem pokopališču v Dolgi vasi.
4 Janež, J., Orešnik, I. (1984). Trnova pot židovskega ljudstva. In: Vestnik, 5. julij, p. 5.

Etemetöház epült
Schwarz Jakab érdemdús chevraelnök-
ségének 30-ik évében az 5666-ik zsinagógai
azaz az 1906-ik polgári évben az egylet ugyei
vezetö elöljáróságes és a kijelölt épitö bizottság
buzgo felügyelete alatt.

A chevra elöljárósaganak tagjai voltak:
Schwarz Jakab elnök
Grosz Herman alelnök
Dr Rudolfer Antal rabbi
Dr Brünner József hitk. elnök
Schwarz Károly pénztárnok
Stern Henrik gondnok
Rosenberg Mor titkar
Bader Herman}
Deutsch Miksa} elöljárók

Az epitö bizottság tagjai voltak
Schwarz Jakab elnök
Arnstein Benö
Freyer Lipot
Pollak Jozsef

cemetery plan

photo gallery