- A PRESERVED CULTURAL MONUMENT -

The New Jewish Cemetery in Prague 3 is a preserved cultural monument as a whole ; due to its character, disposition and a hundred-year excellent administration supported by a considerable role the Hevra Kaddisha (burial society) played in Prague's Jewish community. The Hevra Kaddisha saw to it that graves were established in cemetery lots both chronologically and in accordance with the family's wish and significance which played its natural and social roles even at the moment of death in the bourgeois society. The Hevra Kaddisha also saw to it that inscriptions on tombstones were truthful and testifying to the buried person's character.

Since its establishment in 1891, the cemetery has been surrounded by the wall protecting the space for some 100.000 graves, i. e. for about one century. There were also structures built in the building style that prevailed in Prague in those times - neo-Renaissance. It is the style of the funeral parlor with a respectable hall of prayer, and adjacent rooms needed for the ritual preparation of the burial ; as well as the administration building including the cemetery caretaker's office and his and gravediggers' apartments, and other structures such as a storehouse of wood used to make coffins. Since the very beginning, the cemetery has been properly divided in lots which were gradually used as graves ; and a walk around the cemetery also gives an idea of the styles in which the tombs were built. The cemetery is situated on a hill sloped from the north down to the south and from the west down to the east, in a basin in its southeastern part where a columbary with its own funeral parlor was added in the 20s. Originally, it was completely separated and now it is connected with the main cemetery by means of passageways. The division of the cemetery suggested a significant architecture of tombstones for the graves situated at the corner of individual lots as well as the graves situated near main alleys - particularly in the alley were a burial procession walked from the funeral parlor down to the grave. The New Jewish Cemetery which will never be completely filled with graves because the devastating blast of Nazism exterminated those who could and should have rested here one day, is a homogenous architectural monument.

ENTRANCE AREA AND HONORARY LOTS

The New Jewish Cemetery which opens with a decorated grating of the entrance gate has its honorary lots and memorials. In the middle of the cemetery next to the main alley is a lot reserved for the commemoration of those who gained recognition for their work for the Jewish community - representatives of Prague's Jewish community and its Board as well as other well-known personalities including fellow Jews from foreign countries who passed away while handling Jewish affairs here. Right next to the entrance is a honorary place where significant rabbis are buried.

This is the place to see tombstones which have been pronounced preserved by Prague's Center of Monuments Preservation because of their artistic value. There are almost a hundred tombstones like that at the cemetery. Except for having been recorded for the Preservation Center documents, they have never been described as a whole. This is why this article aims to provide a detailed description and analysis.

Rabbi Nathan Ehrenfeld's large Lomb is made of granite and has a decorative pedestal with a vegetable stylized motif. It was designed by architect Paul Albert Kopetzky who left behind a lot of his developmental works at this cemetery, ranging from the late Art Nouveau to the early constructivism. Ehrenfeld's tombstone from 1912 is an extraordinary example of the pure post-Art Nouveau decorativism as far as its ornament, design and lettering are concerned. The tombstone makes an urbanistic unit with Chief Rabbi Gustav Sicher's grave whose simple constructivism of the 60s is amended with a tombstone shaped as the Tablets of the Law. The entrance alley is also lined with the "Patria" memorial and the memorial commemorating the extinct community in Dolni Kralovice, which is shaped as a single stone. The monument commemorating the soldiers killed in World War One dating from 1926 is a remarkable piece of art - an oblong ashlar embedded in two small oblong pedestals.

A memorial which has been drawing most visitors' attention since its installment in 1985 is that commemorating the Czechoslovak Jews who perished in concentration camps or were killed in resistance fights An ornament of concave ellipses concentrated around a hole are cut in a sandstone block - evoking the impression of a tortured world in whose midst the Star of David is shining. The piece of art whose designers are sculptor Zdenek Vodicka, architect Vladimir Stehlik and stone-cutter Jaroslav Hampl deeply effects the conscience of all, regardless their faith or world outlook.

 

TOMBSTONES AT THE NORTHERN WALL - A DISPLAY OF DEVELOPMENT OF STYLES

The way individual styles and tombstones made in them developed between 1891 and the 40s is displayed on the gravestones leaning against the cemetery's northern wall.

From the neo-Gothic style through neo-Renaissance, the Art Nouveau (from its beginning to climax and fading away), classicism, purism to constructivism - we can find all the styles there were which also affected the architecture of the cemetery. We can see the styles that are often enriched with Hebrew or Hellenistic elements, in some places even influenced by the Mayan art, on tombstones standing elsewhere.

The Poppers' grave at the wall in section 1 is a distinct monumental tomb with the proportionally oversized handrail and pillars - the massive pillar structure with a segmental pediment draws attention by its unusual depth. The grave dates from 1912.

The tomb of the Lederer family which dates from 1892 is one of the most expensive and most original structures at the cemetery. The tomb's ground floor as well as the first floor which are identical in their composition use Gothic elements, both in the form of lancet, arches, ribs, pinnacles etc. It has a square ground plan with an open arcade on the ground floor ; there is a vase on the pedestal in the middle, with a wreath made of stone hanging down in the front on steps.

The excellent neo-Renaissance tomb of the Waldstein family dates from the same period. It is a pillar structure with an entrance area in the middle and with a segmental pediment at the end, and a vase on top.

The tomb of the Fuchs family dates from the times the cemetery was founded. It is a neo-Renaissance tomb, homogeneous in its composition, with open two-arch arcades on the sides. The structure is covered with a high ridge roof with a panel ceiling underneath. There are supporting pillars as well as Ionic semi-columns with archivolts at the head of the structure. The roofs ties are decorated with chiseled ornaments and the roofs gable has side volutes and another lower triangular gable built in the front. The metal-sheathed door is decorated with lines.

The tomb of the Östreicher family is also built in the refined neo-Renaissance style. It has a high pedestal with six Ionic columns that support a canopy-shaped roof. The open area among the arcades holds a coffin of stone, decorated with palm-leaves, and with a portrait plaque of the deceased under the edge. The whole tomb dating from 1891 is inspired by the Belveder summer house.

The last tomb in row 2-1 is that of the Kubintzky family. It is a mausoleum on an oblong ground plan, and the most expensive neo-Renaissance tomb at the cemetery. Its walls are divided with classical patterns and the front wall with two Corinthian columns supporting the classical entablature and a triangular gable culminates with a ballustrade with vases and a name. The mausoleum's roof is canopy-shaped with open arches in the side walls, lined with double pilasters, and with the top surfaces of the walls with hole-shaped open-work inspired by a motif by the Renaissance architect Palladio. The structure was designed by architect Alfons Wertmüller in 1892.

Apart from other tombs designed for the cemetery, the prominent Czech architect Jan Kotera showed best examples of the cemetery architecture on tombs of the Robitschek and Elbogen families in section 2 near the cemetery wall. The Elbogen tomb which dates from 1901 has a metal-sheathed two-part door with a dynamic ornament of spirals and leaves in its front wall. There are round granite flower pots in the corners of the sides. Tomb rims project from them to the gravestones on which the pillar is built on the ellipse-shaped ground plan. In the middle of the tombstone are plaques with converging sides and a triangle-shaped gable ; on the sides there are analogical and symmetrically situated small gravestones, with decorated fixing brackets in the gaps. It is a marble tomb five meters high, with two tall pillars decorated with a vegetable motif in their capital, as well as a door grating and gravestone. The tombstone has two side pillars with a vegetable motif in the capital, with a tall pylon with an ornament and the family's name between them ; and another vegetable motif on top. The grave dates from 1902. (The two pieces of art designed by Kotera should be restored as soon as possible since particularly the grave's metal parts have been considerably damaged.)

The tomb of the Lederer family from 1898 falls in line with those by Kotera near the wall in section 2. It is a segmental tombstone with a conical central piece completed with volutes with bronze shapes of ever-burning fire. There is a vegetable ornament in the frieze on the sides as well as in the top third of the tombstone. One appreciates the sculptural decoration and elements of arts and crafts of high quality.

Next to the wall in the same section are three graves designed by architect Zasche, which form one developmental line. The tomb of the Thorsch family dating from 1908 is an excellent Art Nouveau composition ; the grave is lined with a high railing of stone with small columns, and their metal paneling is decorated with a simple geometrical ornament. The tall tombstone has two side pillars and a triangular gable, with names of the deceased inside.

The tomb of the Götz family dating from 1911 is built in the post-Art Nouveau style. In contains artistic elements of high quality - the grave has a high railing with small pillars made of iron, and a lintel and bronze partition walls with a vegetable motif in the paneling. The tomb is a flat pillar structure with a triangle-shaped gable. There is also a recess which is rimmed with round flat quarter-pillars with a segmentally overlapping lintel. The recess contains a tombstone rimmed with a bronze ornament and with names of the buried, and with a massive granite flower pot underneath.

The third tomb in the row of graves designed by Zasche is that of the Sobotka family which dates from 1911 and is built in the distinctly e decorative classicizing style. The grave's curb stone with two steps in the front has a high decorated bronze railing and, in the middle of the tomb, a high curb stone of the grave, which is decorated with a motif of curls. The tomb itself has a deep recess at the wall, with a bronze plaque with names of the buried. In the tympanum above is a colorful mosaic with a decorative motive.

The tomb of the Schwabacher family at the wall in section 7 was built in the classicizing style in about 1913. In the middle of the grave which is rimmed with granite there is a flower pot designed as a cut hollow column with a pedestal. A regular ashlar holds a cylindrical obelisk with an ornamental frame around inscriptions, which is also decorated with a motif of flowers. The capital consists of intersecting triangular gables.

At the wall in section 7 is the tomb of the Schick family which was made of black granite. It is situated on a narrow lot. It has two simply profiled small pillars in the front, and in between there is the gravestone as a heraldic gable with two bronze heraldic ornaments. On the grave in the middle there are two elliptic flower pots. A bronze plaque with names of the dead is inlaid on the pilaster structure of the tomb. The tombstone's pedestal leans against two stone triangles. The grave which was built in the late Art Nouveau style dates from about 1911.

The large tomb of the industrialist as well as supporter of Czech-Jewish religious efforts named Bondy which dates from about 1907 was designed by the prominent architect of Czech Art Nouveau J. Fanta. The tomb consists of a central piece with five gravestones. The central one contains a large motif of flowers with names of the deceased. In terms of style, design, lettering as well as the bronze ornaments, it is a homogenous and refined work.

The magnificent tomb of the Glauber family which dates from 1911 was also built in the late Art Nouveau style by architect Ad. Foehr. The simple grave with a stone curb has two pillars with an ornamental bronze door in the front. The tomb paneled with horizontally grooved plates consists of a pedestal and a three-part asymmetrical main unit. There is a flower pot in the bottom part. On the left on a rising pedestal there is a pilaster structure with an ornamental grating and concave lintel, and in the recess we can find names of the deceased and a bronze portrait plaque. The tomb's dominating point is an ornamental pedestal with three bronze flower pots decorated with an ornament of curls.

The tomb of the Sonnenschein family at the wall in section 7 was built in the Greek-like Art Nouveau classicism in 1913. The tomb consists of a simple grave lined with a low railing with simple pillars ; a monumental tombstone behind, and a tall massive pillar structure with a transverse beam and dates of birth and death of the deceased in the recess.

Three other tombs preserved as monuments are situated at the wall in section 8.

That of the Meindl family which dates 1918 was built in the late Art Nouveau style. It is a proportionally well-elaborated structure with an intimate impact. It is homogenous in terms of the architectural style, lettering as well as artistic elements. The simple grave has a curb stone and ornamental iron railing, and the tombstone is oval-shaped, with names of the deceased in the recess.

The tomb of the Eisler family was built in about 1923 in the monumental classicizing style. It is a homogeneous piece in terms of its elements. Behind, the curb-stoned grave there are two tombstones - one is a pillar recess containing names of the deceased and with an equilaterally triangular gable. The other tombstone in the front consists of a pedestal with a name of the deceased, and with a Greek-like war mask with a helmet as an obvious reminder of the recent war lot.

The tomb of the Waldes family dating from 1933 can be appreciated as an excellent classicizing design. The grave is rimmed with a curb stone and the marble tombstone has a tall pilaster shape with a bronze gravestone plaque, names of the deceased and two life-size bronze vignettes. The gable is supported with brackets with a vegetable motif.

At the wall in section 9 is a remarkable tomb of the Lechner family dating from about 1913. The grave is designed as a garden with a high granite railing and two-part bronze door ornamented on its front side.

The tombstone has a flat pillar shape with a triangular gable, and a pedestal with a sculpture of a dying owl with books on its right side.

There is also the tomb of the Petschek family from 1919, one of the largest and most monumental classicizing tombs at the cemetery, of an excellent artistic quality. The austere concept of the Greek-like structure is enriched by a high-quality decorative grating. The grave planted with flowers is surrounded with a tall tombstone and an open arcade of Doric columns of light granite. The arcade has an entrance door in the middle, and decorative gratings in between the columns. The tombstone is a Doric pillar structure with a plaque with names and dates of the deceased, and a flower pot of black polished granite. It has a triangular gable on top, which is supported with brackets in a transverse beam.

At the wall in section 10 is the inventive tomb of the Beck family, dating from 1939, which is of a remarkable quality in terms of arts and crafts. Behind the grave with a curb stone, and two decorative flower pots with vegetable ornaments in the front, there is a tombstone shaped as a tall isosceles triangle with the data on the deceased. The middle of the bottom part holds a bronze door with vegetable and symbolical motifs and two sculpted portraits, and simple plaster on an ashlar on the peripheral cemetery wall behind the tombstone. (It comes from Joh.. Zinngross's stone-cutting shop in Pilsen).

Between sections 10 and 25 near the wall there is the classicizing travertine tomb of lawyer Julius Petschek which dates from 1932. It is a conspicuous and accurately finished monumental structure, one of the most impressive ones at the cemetery. The recessed tombstone with the name of the deceased is bordered with two side open pillar arcades with a transverse lintel. There are steps with side plinths leading to the grave which is planted with flowers and very well-kept.

The last of the preserved tombs near the northern wall of the cemetery is the narrow longitudinal tomb of the Andres family in section 25. It is a simple structure in the classicism of the 30s, dating from about 1935. On its sides, the pillar tomb has high open arcades with round front parts. There is a plaque with the data on the deceased in the recess, and little seats in the middle. The monumental design gives a certain chamber impression.

BEAUTIFUL TOMBS IN OPEN-SPACE LOTS

Let us pass from the graves near the northern wall to lots in the open space. Mostly neo-Renaissance tombs were built in the cemetery's first decade ; the tomb of the Kämpf family (1892) 3-14-1 has a small sarcophagus on small volutes seated on an intricately profiled pedestal but it is a dominating architectural and urbanistic element on the important crossroads in the main alley. The tomb of the Ederer family is the last in row 3-14. The pillar structure is situated on a high pedestal, with Corinthian columns which support a corrugated pediment with a vase and side capitals. The proportionately well-balanced structure dates from 1893. Grave 4-7, 8-1 of the Altschul family is a tomb with a railing and two-side pillar structure with classical proportions and a low side balustrade. It dates from about 1896. There is also the excellent classicist tomb (5-1,2) of Hersch-Petschek dating from 1894, which is a tall tombstone based on a stone ashlar three-step pedestal whose middle part supports segmental pediments with volutes with bronze bowls and ever-burning fire. The tombstone is ended with a tall and thin conical obelisk.

The proportional design of grave 5-1-24, 25 of the Porges family which dates from 1895 resembles the conventional production but is amended with a high-quality sculpted portrait plaque. (To see a photo, click here)

Tombstone 5B-1-10 of the Benies family from 1898 is unique as to a motif : the pillar structure that is seated on a step-like pedestal contains a landscape relief with a broken tree and a railing in front of which a basket with scattered flowers is situated. Dates of the deceased are inscribed on two volutes in front of the tombstone.

VIENNESE AND PRAGUE ART NOUVEAU

Architect E. V. Gotthilf designed grave 5B-1-3 of Sophie Pollak in 1899 as a unique example of Viennese Art Nouveau at this cemetery : on a recessed pedestal sits a conical tetragonal tall obelisk ended with a ledge with a bronze band with rosettes and a segment with a bronze application of twigs and flowers. In the obelisk's top third is a band decorated with a meandrous pattern with four brackets with wreaths. The Art Nouveau concept is based on the Empire. Tomb B3-14-8,9 of the Sommer family from 1901 consists of a pilaster-shaped tombstone with a flat profiled lintel, and a relief plaque with a portrait of the deceased by J. Grubner in the recess. Grave 3B-13-11 of the Löwy family dating from 1900 is, in terms of style, a homogeneous Art Nouveau tombstone ; it is oblong and conical, situated on a profiled pedestal, with a bronze application of a flower pattern, ended with a capital with volutes and a segment with a bronze application of a wreath. Turnau's grave at the end of row 7-4 is a unique historizing structure ; it has three profiled columns with decorated paneling on the sides, at the head of the grave is a Ionic column with side brackets with bronze wreaths and on top of the column there is a bronze urn veiled in a funeral pall - all designed by architect Theodor Schreiter in 1901.

Perutz's grave at the end of row 7-5 was also built in the Art Nouveau style in 1902 by the prominent Czech architect Jan Kotera. The tall slender tombstone is ended with a lancet arch, at the head there is a Gne relief vegetable decoration which is a replica of front pillars of the Robittschek family grave (at the wall in section 2). Perutz's grave at the end of row 11-1 is another excellent design by Kotera - a late Art Nouveau piece from 1904. There is a profiled black granite curb stone with a step around the grave, and the tombstone with side profiled pedestals is set between two pillars which are ended with a small frieze of colorful mosaic. The tombstone with names of the deceased is ended with a decorated extended piece with brackets and a colorful frieze.

Three tombs dating from 1903-1907 were also built in the Art Nouveau style, namely that of Stadler family (11-11-1) which is the usual type of tombstone but it is exceptional in terms of workmanship and the simple modification of details. The top of the prismatoid tombstone is ended with a bronze flower pot on a prismatoid pedestal which contrasts with side surfaces that recede backwards. Grave 19-1-13 is an altogether unique example of the Art Nouveau concept - it is the grave of painter Max Horb (1882-1907), member of the artistic group called OSMA (Eight) whose painting probably served as a model of the sandstone gravestone which, unfortunately, has been damaged - it bears a relief of a willow tree with a peacock. The tombstone was designed by the famous Czech sculptor Jan Stursa.

Also grave 15-14-12 which is that of the Heller family was built in the Art Nouveau style. Stylized volutes on the side project from the flower pot to the sides of a tall tombstone which is also ended with two volutes, with bronze applications on the sides.

Grave 15-14-9 of the Wehle family from 1906 was built in the classicizing style but it also uses Art Nouveau and artistic elements. Two conical pillars with bronze ornamental capitals decorated with flowers bear a triangular pediment. The tombstone with names of the deceased holds a bronze portrait plaque. There are wrought ornamental flower pots on a pedestal on the sides. The rare original tombstone of the Pick family (12-8-28) dating from 1909 was designed by architect Mühlstein with a monumental impact ; it is a granite gravestone with broad pillars projecting obliquely forwards, with another two triples of stylized pillars in the middle of a narrow recess. The structure is ended with a concave lintel. In general, the tomb is homogeneous in all its parts.

Another twelve remarkable tombstones from 1901-1911 are also affected by the Art Nouveau style - Gerstl's grave 7-11-1 is a simple structure with two flower pots and a gravestone in between with names of the deceased. Russ's tombstone 7-1-12 has a high artistic quality. Shaped as a stylized vegetable volute with four front projections, it is as exceptional as the grave of painter Horb. Remarkable ornaments attract attention to the third grave in row 7-1 - that of the Pollak family - where a rich bronze application on all over the stone tombstone as well as a vegetal motif on its sides are a style representation of the period style. On the contrary, the fourth grave from the end of row 7-1 - that of the Fanta family - is a dignified and simple, profiled in the Art Nouveau style, and oblong and conical tombstone which is ended with a decorative superstructure, and has a metal railing on the curb stone all around the grave cut in the pure style. Grave 7-8-36 Herrnheiser has a portrait plaque of the deceased. The tombstone is set on a profiled pedestal with two side tall pillars, and with a bronze decoration with a vegetable motif on top. The plaque - designed probably by A. Rieber - resembles the works by sculptor Sucharda. The second grave from the end of row 8-1 -Roth - is a granite tombstone whose prismatoid pedestal bears two octagonal pillars supporting a canopy lintel with a profiled ledge. A bronze of the deceased is set between the pillars and there is a flower pot in the upper part. The tombstone was built in Art Nouveau style and is homogeneous in all of its parts. Architect Zasche designed another tombstone 11-1-8,9 - Krasnopolski's - whose grave is covered with a tablet and surrounded with a high granite railing with a two-wing door which is decorated with a simple pattern. The tombstone with bronze pillars on the sides is ended with a triangular gable. The tombstone has an obli9ue plaque in the middle with names of the deceased. Surfaces are decorated with a rich linear vegetable motif, and a metal lamp hangs down on chains below the lintel. The tombstone is built in the classicizing Art Nouveau. A magnificent Art Nouveau structure with high-quality artistic elements is grave 12-15 -end of row of the Kraus family, where prisms ended with quadratic flower pots gradually descent from the tombstone's grave. Names of the deceased are inscribed in the recess with bronze ornaments and an obli9ue plaque, while side pillars are ended with a frieze with bronze decoration. Grave 15-14-13 of the Heller family is a monumental peak Art Nouveau structure where stylized volutes are projected from front stone flower pots to the sides of a tall tombstone. The gravestone with names of the deceased which is ended with two volutes on top has a pedestal in its lower part, and bronze ornaments on the sides. Architect A. Foehr has designed the second tombstone at the end of row 15-1 - that of the Sohr family. It is an austere proportional structure with a high paneled granite railing and tall oblong tombstone as well as a front bronze door. On the sides are two prismatoid pillars with open semi-circular capitals as flower pots, with an area in between which is paneled with granite slabs, holding bronze ellipse-shaped railings in its upper part. Grave 4-1-16 of the Derblich family is an original structure. It is a tall oblong granite tombstone with the bronze application of a medallion hanging down on stripes and bordered with a wreath, and with names of the deceased within. In the front, the gravestone is decorated with two low pedestals with wrought bronze flower pots. Grave 5B-1-1-2 of the Weltsch family dates from the first two decades of the cemetery's existence, between 1891-1911, and is one of the preserved monuments. The first in the row by the main alley, it is a monumental exquisite tombstone with a distinct Czech inscription, which was designed by the Art Nouveau architect A. Balsanek in 1900. It is a granite square mausoleum with two Doric columns and a triangular pediment in the front, and roofed with a cupola. There are decorative motifs on the sides, with a three-part window underneath, and an ornamental forged grating as a door. Three steps with two side vases lead to the door. Grave 13-16-10 of the Heller family is one of less usual types of an Art Nouveau tombstone. It is a round lancet arch with an ornament of flat stylized volutes, dating from about 1910. Grave 12-13 - of the Strass family is characteristic of its proportionally austere design. The grave is bordered with four columns. It has a two-part door in the front and a metal railing paneling the balustrade. It is a pillar structure on a tall oblong pedestal, ended with a segmental gable with a bronze application. In the bottom part there are decorative flower pots on pillars in front of the tombstone. The design was made by architect Neugebauer in 1910 in the classicizing style. Tombstone 12-14, 13 of the Egerer family is a valuable piece of architecture dating from 1910 with a uniquely designed ornamental bronze canopy supported with four conical prismatoid pillars. The regular prismatoid tombstone of Pollack (16-3-1) was built one year later. A low pedestal with double pillars support a medium-sized tomb and above it, a transverse beam and a segmental profiled pediment, and in between pillars a portrait plaque of the deceased. A certain architectural resemblance to the above mentioned Heller tombstone (15-14-12) bears tomb 6-12-20 of Pollakova dating from 1914 which was made by the same stone-cutting shop (E. Radnitz). It is a simple grave with a granite curb stone which gradually rises on the sides to the tombstones' top. It is decorated with relief applications of flower bands at the end. The simple oblong gravestone with a relief plaque with names of the deceased is ended with a massive wide band wound in a volute. There is a wrought flower pot in the bottom part. Tombstone 19-1-3 of the Reinisch family dates from about 1910. It is a tall granite pylon on an ellipsoid plot, with a bronze medallion with dates of the deceased in its top third, and a funeral veil hanging down. The tombstone has a classicizing tendency.

FROM CLASSICISM TO CONSTRUCTIVISM

The preserved tombstones dating from the following three decades of the cemetery's existence, namely from 1911 to the period of Nazi transports, show the development of the feeling for style from the disappearing Art Nouveau and come-back classicism to purism and constructivism. Tombstone 2-16 of Katz which is shaped as a recessed pillar structure was built in the post-Art Nouveau style in 1914. It is ended with a straight lintel with a bronze decoration of targets in the frieze, and a bronze ledge with volutes and palm-leaf motifs. The Greek-like design of Tomb 6-14-12 of Bendiener dating from about 1913 is also refined. The pillar structure with a relief of stylized Corinthian columns with a transverse beam decorated with triglyph, is bordered with a Hellenistic meandre. A concave recess contains the names of the deceased. The classicizing tomb at the end of row 7-1 of the Winterberg family was built in the decorative style of the end of World War One. It is a massive medium-size tomb with three tombstones, decorated with two bronze flower pots based on projecting pedestals, and with a large bronze application and an ornamental superstructure with a Hebrew inscription. In the neo-Renaissance style is the two-part tombstone (11-15, 16-1) of the famous actor of the German Theatre of Prague Gustav Löw who probably adjusted the name of the famous Löwy family who is also buried here, to that of the famous German family of actors. The actor's tombstone has a relief plaque with an ornament and his portrait. The tall gravestone consisting of two parts has pillars and capitals on the sides and a bronze vase on top. The design of tombstone 12-1-8,9 of the Schmolka family which was designed by architect Paul Albert Kopetzky in 1915 jumps ahead the creative concepts of the 20s. The tombstone set on an oblong pedestal consists of a high triangle with surfaces spreading from the top and ending at the pentahedral recess with a plaque with names of the deceased.

Tombstone 20-1-3 of the Bacher family is another of architect Kopetzky's designs in the post-Art Nouveau style dating from 1913. It consists of a pedestal-based travertine unit which is broken in sculpted vertical parts. It contains two circular medallions and names of the deceased. The superstructure copies the ornamental motif of the stone railing. The famous artist of Prague as well as Berlin Emil Orlik was apparently involved in the design of the Orlik family's tombstone in lot 20-1-11 which dates from about 1914. It is affected by the late Art Nouveau ; the grave's railing is made of simple ashlar-shaped pillars with a forged railing and ornamental flower pots with a relief ornament of flowers. The tombstone's front pillars are profiled in a complex method, and its recess contains a plaque with names of the deceased with a bronze application of bands of flowers. The design by architect Max Spielmann, the unique grave of the Epstein family (17-14-4) was built in the classical style of the end of the second decade of our century. It is a tall tombstone which consists of two marginal and two central Doric columns with a simple transverse beam, and with a triangular pediment above the central part.

SCULPTORS' WORK

The most significant sculpted piece at the New Jewish cemetery is the tombstone of artist Max Horb (19-1-13) which was made by sculptor Jan Stursa. Sculptor Emanuel Kodet left behind two pieces of work dating from 1917 and 1918 ; grave 13-16 of Winternitz has a three-part tombstone set on a low folded prismatoid pedestal ; its central part with a fine-cut semi-circle is higher while the side lower parts end with a tall gable with an open work on top, and slender pillars of a square ground plan, with a simple geometrical decoration, in between individual parts. The design is affected by the Mayan art - and the tombstone's homogeneous, reflecting tendencies of the 20s. Tombstone 17-1-8,9 of Smolková which is one year its junior holds a relief plaque of the deceased woman, designed by Kodet. The three-part tombstone also reminds of the preceding grave - its central part is set on a profiled pedestal which bears pedestals consisting of double pillars that support a profiled frieze. There are similar pillar structures on the sides.

Singer's three-part tombstone (13-16) dating from 1918 is an average work. Nevertheless it holds a life-size portrait plaque of the prematurely deceased girl by the excellent sculptor C. Vosmik. A bronze plaque of a girl designed by the same sculptor decorates the otherwise austere tombstone of Salus (17-8-1) which dates from 1923. Another piece of artwork - a distinct oblong bronze relief with a falling swan wrought by A.. Stolba in 1918 decorates grave 17-1~-9 of Nohelova. On the sides, the tombstone has tall pillars with an obliquely projecting ledge, and the high curb stone contains a hole with a bronze door decorated with a relief with birds and a vegetable motif. The tombstone's dominating and mutually interconnected elements make an excellent architectural composition.

Architect K. Jara designed grave 20-14-2 of the Kalman - Blum families in about 1915 as a period decorated tombstone on a three-step pedestal. The low and thick gravestone holds the dates of the deceased, and a bronze emblem ending with an ornamental profile. It is surrounded with a low railing which is bronze in the front. Tombstone 20-14-2 of Teller dating from 1918 is connected with the Jewish weltanschauung. In front of the rear oblong part with wide edges and the dominating Tablets of the Law in the middle, there is a lower smooth part with oblong open edges and dates of the deceased. (The element of the Tablets of the Law can be seen more that once at the cemetery.)

Cubism left its traces on the tombstone of Marta Weiner (19-10-31), sister of poet Richard Weiner, who died in 1918. It was designed by sculptor Vaclav Vokalek (1891-1978). The tall and slender stela holds a sculpted relief of a stylized tree from which a star is rising. The tombstone's foot bears a musical motif inscribed in the musical score.

Architect P. A. Kopetzky's cemetery artwork culminates with two beautiful structures - the last tombstone in row 17-14 of Leipen dating from 1921, and tombstone 29-1-3,4 of Freund which dates from 1930.

Grave 14-1 of Koserak is an original tombstone designed in a spirit of the decorative style of the 20s. It is a flat conical gravestone with a segmental ending with a ledge shaped as opening volutes, and on top, with a medallion with a relief of grapes - the symbol of the tribe of Israel.

Grave 14-13-7 of the Bergmann family dates from 1927. With its basic Art Nouveau element it is not typical of the time of its origin - it is a tombstone with elements of a lily ; a stela from whose pedestal which looks like a flower pot a slender vegetable shape is growing - it is finely cut and twisted to the sides in the peak. The convex front tear-shaped surface holds the names of the deceased. - The classicizing tendency in a spirit of the 20s has the third grave from the end of row 18-14-18 of Wagner which has an accomplished design and dates from 1923. Behind the grave's high curb stone with two steps there are short pillars based on high pedestals, that support a triangular pediment. The projecting plaque in the recess bears the names of the deceased. The design of tombstone 21-12-5 of the Eiseofner family dating from 1921 is an original one. The finely cut torso of a column is tied with a smooth band bearing the dates of the deceased and two vegetable bands, and the column supports a stone vase decorated with a Hellenistic meander, also as an influence by the classical style. The same classicizing style is that of grave 22-1-9 of the Hoffmann family which dates from 1927. It is a simply profiled arch filled with a bronze forged grating in front of which, on a pedestal, there is an oblong plaque with the dates of the deceased. Another beautiful piece of architecture made in 1936 is the Böhm family's tombstone at the end of row 27-16. It consists of a profiled pedestal which supports a slender pillar with the dates of the deceased, and with a bronze relief of a dove flying towards the sun - a unique composition at the cemetery. Purism of about 1930 is represented by architect Lud. Hilger's design of twin-grave 29-9-6 of the Abeles family. It is a regular oblong tombstone with two circular holes with a simple bronze grating. The dividing prism supports a superstructure with bordering rings and a six-point star, and the data on the deceased on the right side. Distinctly religious elements are typical of the classicizing design of grave 29-14-1 of the Wurm family dating from 1928. The grave is surrounded with a bronze railing with a door with menorahs, and a profiled pedestal supports a tombstone shaped as the Tablets of Decalogue, with the bronze Star of David on top. The style of the 20s is represented by the unique design of grave 29-14-8 of Paulus . It is a pilaster tombstone which has a beautiful sculpted relief of an exotic landscape in the recess. A unique gravestone belongs to a deceased person without any Latin Inscription in lot 30-14-15. It is a piece designed in a spirit of modern architecture of the 20s - a tall granite tombstone with a richly profiled central piece and a Hebrew inscription in the recess. Grave 1-1-23 of the Haas family was designed in a spirit of constructivism in 1931. The granite pedestal supports three pillars which are round in the front, with a lintel that bears a regular oblong ashlar with the data on the deceased. All the above mentioned graves as well as those dating from the following decades of the cemetery's existence testify to a high level of our community's cemetery architecture and its artistic trends influenced by the contemporary artistic development.

Tombstone 5-1-2 of Anna Pollak is a remarkable example of an intimate design of the grave of the 40s. It has a conical shape with beveled edges, which is divided by three horizontal grooves as a symbol of crystal. The front wall holds the data on the deceased woman and the Star of David in a pentahedral recess. Architect L. Ehrmann who also restored the synagogue in Smichov designed the unique tombstone of the head of Prague's Jewish Board and member of parliament dr. L. Singer - the lot between 18-29, row 14, No. 1 - who died in 1931. At the head of the grave, a pedestal holds by means of five strips a tall slender column with a vegetable capital, while the frieze bears a continuous Hebrew inscription which is encircled all around it. Another Hebrew text which is almost as rich as that on the preceding tombstone is inscribed on the classicizing gravestone of the Kohn family (30-5, 6-1) dating from the 30s. It is a large tomb with a prismatoid granite tombstone which consists of two side low parts with the data on the deceased, while its middle part is covered with a cut Hebrew Inscription. The superstructure holds a sculpted sign of the Kohanim tribe - the hands.

Kafka's tombstoneA grave which is most frequently visited by foreigners is that of writer Franz Kafka (21-14-21). It is a preserved monument also for its artistic value. It was designed by architect L. Ehrmann. It is shaped as a hexahedral truncated crystal with the data on the deceased on the front face.

The opposite wall holds the preserved bronze plaque commemorating Dr. Max Brod (1884-1968), saver of Kafka's work and pioneer of Czech culture abroad. The plaque was installed by Prague's Jewish community.

The past generation has left behind an artistic aftermath which was recorded for preservationpurposes but never described or assessed in terms of its artistic and historical values. This is also how the first attempt at a list of monuments at the New Jewish Cemetery should be viewed.

Since the dead were not always buried in new cemetery lots chronologically but sometimes in the graves of their already deceased relatives, we can often find a tombstone which dates from a much later time than the particular lot. That is why this survey of tombstones preserved as cultural monuments had to follow the development of their architecture in terms of time, or their resemblance in terms of style, not to describe the cemetery lots as they follow one another. Nevertheless, the survey also follows the chronology of burying in individual lots at the cemetery.

 

Franz Kafka's grandmother was born Esther Porias. Franz Kafka's family tree.


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