Tag Archives: Nazis

Kristallnacht in Bütow

Front page of The New York Times on November 11, 1938
Front page of The New York Times on November 11, 1938

In November of 1938, Nazis tried destroying the Jewish cemetery in Bütow (Bytów), the town where my great grandparents were married. It’s known as the Night of Broken Glass, or Kristallnacht. Recently, during restoration work in Bytów, matzevot (the Hebrew word for monument, but often translated as gravestone) lost during the violence and destruction of Kristallnacht have been rediscovered.

After seventy-three years, matzevot from the Jewish cemetery in Bytów, liquidated in 1938 by Nazi authorities, have been found. The fragments of Jewish tombstones had been placed under Bernarda Wery Street to fortify the road. The restored matzevot trace back to the 18th and 19th centuries and will be displayed at a special exhibition at the Muzeum Zachodniokaszubskie museum, which will present a history of the Bytów Jewish community. Museum workers hope that other matzevot and more remnants of the existence of Bytów Jews, who formed a big integrated community and made ca. 10 percent of the 19th-century Bytow population, are yet to be discovered.

Today, there is a playground at the site of the former Jewish cemetery in Bytow. Unfortunately, there is no information about the fact that it had been a Jewish cemetery prior to 1938.