HISTORY OF PLACE
This forgotten multi-faith urn cemetery is located on the Szubieniczna Góra hill (German: Galgenberg), 55 metres above sea level, looming over Traugutta street, which is one of the oldest streets in Wrzeszcz. The Galgenberg hill used to be an execution site. From 1529 to 1804, the hill had a huge gallows – hence the name which translates as ‘Gallows Hill’. Back then, the site had no trees so the scaffold could be seen from the west road leading into the city, advertising the effectiveness of the Gdansk judiciary. The last execution (beheading) was carried out on Galgenberg in 1838. From 1914 to 1945, at the foot of the hill, along Traugutta street, there was a cemetery for people of different creeds, and for atheists. Around the end of 1920s – when there was no place for more burials – the cemetery was expanded onto the hill.
The crematory built in 1914 at the foot of the hill was owned by the cremation society called ‘Die Flamme’ (German for ‘flame’) which operated until 1945. After World War 2, for the obvious associations with the German death camps, the crematory was closed down and the site was given to the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession and later to the Orthodox Church. The retort was disassembled and destroyed in the 1980s and 1990s. In the mid 1990s, the building became the church of St. Nicholas. The cemetery once located by the former crematory is gone. All that is left are the grass terraces hinting at the past land use.
After the World War 2, all the former necropoleis in Gdansk were closed down. The terraces of the urn cemetery were turned into a park (later called Traugutt’s Park) commemorating the 25th anniversary of the People’s Republic of Poland. In 1945, the city stopped administering the former cemetery. It was not used as the city’s burying ground and no burials took place there. The few surviving tombstones were lucky because they were covered with ivy and forgotten. The off the beaten track location contributed, however, to the destruction of the graves as the urns were easily excavated, and the tombstones – stolen or smashed into pieces.
The last relatives stopped visiting their dead in 1950s. For some time, a history teacher (name unknown) with his students from the 29th secondary school in Gdansk (currently, the primary school no. 43 in Gdansk) would come there to clean the site and take care of the graves. Since he retired in 2012, no one has come here anymore.
In 2017, as part of the Gdansk Waterworks Route project, the Stary Sobieski water tank located near the former cemetery was restored and a vantage point was created there. The remains of the urn cemetery were cleared and named Nostalgia Park.