Maybe you can find an answer for your question in this list of FAQ. If you have more questions, please feel free to contact us.
Are you only making a documentation of the cemeteries or do you plan more?
To create a list and collect as much information about these cemeteries as possible is a first basic step. The goal is to get an inventory of the cemeteries, which is as complete as possible.
Supporting local groups who are interested to do a renovation for one or the other cemetery is something we also want to do.
However the initiative and most of the action is in the responsibility of local groups and has to be done with the consent of the local authorities and the owner of the cemetery.
We can help to exchange experiences, bring people together and also can aid with advice based on the many cemeteries and different renovation approaches we know of.
We can also try to provide some more historic background of the cemeteries and make a connection to the church books.
Is the Cmentarze Project limited to "German" cemeteries?
We started with old "Lutheran" or "German" cemeteries. But meanwhile we collect information about all kind of old cemeteries.
So we also have Catholic, Mariavit, Jewish and military cemeteries in our documentation.
I know about cemeteries which are not yet on your web page. Do you want to have information about them or some pictures?
Yes, this cemetery might not yet be on our list. If you could send us information where this cemetery is located, we could check if we already have it or have some actions planed for it.
Pictures are certainly welcome - especially when we have no documentation about this cemetery.
In this case a map with the cemetery or it's estimated location marked on it, would also be helpful.
What group or organization stands behind this project and what do they want?
There is no group or organization behind this project.
UpstreamVistula is a network of people who are interested in the history of the area of Poland where their ancestors had lived.
The Cmentarze Project is another network of people contributing in different degrees to the project. There are people from different countries involved. Most people involved have a family connection to the area of Central Poland or they have ancestors buried on these cemeteries.
Several people in Poland, who contribute to this project don't even have German or 'Hollaender' roots. They are interested in their local history and they want to do something for the neglected cemeteries.
Why are there so many cemeteries and why aren't they located beside the church as most of the old Roman-Catholic cemeteries are?
Most of the villages had their own cemetery. Many of these burial places are much older than most of the Lutheran parishes in this area, most of which have been promoted by the Prussian authorities only around 1800.
The people living much earlier in those villages were not necessarily Lutherans. They were members of several sects like Anabaptistes or Mennonites. They were not allowed to (and probably did not want to) bury their deaths at the Catholic cemeteries. So each village had its own burial place.
Not all the villages had a church. They had wooden prayer houses which were also used as school buildings. The cemeteries were not necessarily located near those prayer houses. And if they were, the wooden buildings of the prayer house often had been destroyed and only the cemetery remained.
Are you transcribing any available Inscription?
At the old and closed cemeteries we try to transcribe any inscription which is available.
At cemeteries which are still in use, like in Lipno, Rypin or Chodecz, we only take inscriptions of older (pre 1945) gravestones. We add some pictures of new gravestones with German names as a kind of example for the general view of the cemetery. We think that some families which are living in Poland might not want to have their family grave presented on a web page about German genealogy.
Why haven't you already started to renovate the cemetery where my ancestors are buried?
Doing something about one of the old cemeteries in Poland might not be as easy as it seems to be.
The old cemeteries in Poland are not a legal blackhole.
In any case the owner of the cemetery has to be involved. For several of the old cemeteries the ownership seems to be unclear. In these cases the administrative community (gmina) is responsible for the protection of the cemeteries.
Some plants on a cemetery might already be protected.
Cutting off the lilac bushes superficially, leaving the roots to sprout even more dense lilac bushes, is not a long term solution.
There cannot be any diggings (as digging out of roots), because this might bring up bones or other human remains. During the last days of World War II the cemeteries often have been used for provisional burials in shallow graves.
Before any changes are made to a cemetery, a detailed plan of the cemetery and a documentation of the current condition should be made. Some historic research is also necessary to get an idea of the original condition of the cemetery. With this information a master protection plan for the cemetery should be developed, involving the ideas of all interest groups and introducing a long term plan for responsibilities and financial possibilities.
A cemetery is a subject of common interest and since almost all of the cemeteries are much older than 100 years, they are certainly also subjects of the Polish historical heritage. For this reason they all should be listed before any changes are made.
A cemetery which already has been listed cannot be renovated without the permission of the Wojewódzki Konserwator Zabytków.