Checiny Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Country
Poland
Region
Świetokrzyskie Voivodeship
District
Kielce
Settlement
Chęciny
Site address
The cemetery is located behind 58A, Radkowska Street. You can get from the market square to the cemetery from Radkowska Street, turning right into the Avenue of Love. At its end, turn left and follow the ever narrower path for about 300 metres, parallel to the ridge of the mountain. You can also reach the cemetery via the path that runs along the top of the castle hill and after passing the football field, near the electric pole, go left down a steep slope to reach the cemetery.
GPS coordinates
50.79572, 20.47102
Perimeter length
786 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
no
Type and height of existing fence
No fence
Preservation condition
Unfenced Jewish cemetery
General site condition
It is a cemetery with many tombstones preserved. It is located on a very picturesque castle hill. Some remnants of the original cemetery wall have been preserved to the north and west. Some areas of the cemetery are forested and overgrown, along with the path that goes through the cemetery, however it’s mostly clear and not overgrown.
Number of existing gravestones
228 tombstones have been preserved in their original place and 68 matzevot have been piled up in several places in the cemetery. There are fragments of matzevot and broken tombstones, that have been preserved in relatively good condition. Some tombstones, situated close to the path, have had their inscriptions painted, therefore they are easier to read the dates and names on them.
Date of oldest tombstone
1703
Date of newest tombstone
1930
Urgency of erecting a fence
High
Land ownership
Property of local community
Preserved construction on site
No
Drone surveys
Yes

Historical overview

The development of a Jewish settlement in Chęciny began at the end of the 16th century. In 1921, 2,825 Jews lived in the town, which was 56% of the total population. The majority of them were killed in Treblinka in September 1942.

The cemetery was established in the first half of the 17th century. It is located around 800 meters away from the market square, on the south-eastern slope of Zamkowa Hill. It was mentioned in the royal inventory from 1660 and in the privilege issued in 1668 by the head of the Chęciny district, Stefan Bidziński, and later confirmed by the Polish kings.

The cemetery served as a burial place for the inhabitants of Chęciny and its surroundings. In 1929, Majer Bałaban wrote: “There is a huge cemetery on the slopes of the castle hill, beneath Queen Bona’s castle ruins. You can see at first glance that the cemetery is too big for a small community of Chęciny. It was a collective cemetery for several communities, especially for the Kielce one, which had the De non tolerandis Judaeis privilege.”

In the interwar period, the cemetery was fenced with a hoarding with a shingled gateway. At the entrance, there was a building in which the caretaker and gravedigger lived. The last pre-war caretaker was a Christian, Karol Kiciński, who lived in the building until 1945.

During World War II, the cemetery was still in use. After the extermination action in September 1942, people killed in the town and its vicinity were buried there. From 1942, Guta Szynowłoga, Lilli Szynowłoga and Izaak Latrowski hid in the caretaker’s house.

In 1964, the Minister of Municipal Economy issued a decision to close the cemetery.

The cemetery covers a plot of approximately 3 hectares. The borders are partially visible due to the earthen embankment and the wall. As a result of the destruction carried out by the local population and the impact of natural forces, only around 300 tombstones have survived, which is a small percentage of the original amount. The oldest surviving tombstone dates back to 1638.

The cemetery is owned by the Municipality and the Communal Office of the Town of Chęciny, which takes care of regular cleaning works. The property has been entered into the Register of Immovable Monuments.