Chmielnik Old Jewish Cemetery
The first Jewish settlement in Chmielnik likely dates back to the 17th century. In 1939, 5,908 Jews lived in the town, which was 87% of the total population. The majority of them were murdered by the Germans in 1942.
The cemetery is located at Sienkiewicza Street, near the synagogue, and covers an irregularly shaped plot. The cemetery was likely established in the 17th or 18th century. In 1819, the administrative authorities ordered the Jewish community to close it and create a new burial place. In 1820, after negotiations and attempts of further burials, the authorities finally ordered the permanent closure of the entrance to the cemetery. Before 1939, the cemetery was fenced. It can be assumed that the facility was neglected and some tombstones gradually eroded.
The devastation of the cemetery likely began after the extermination of the Jews from Chmielnik. From 1946, a marketplace was located on the site.
On June 22nd 1964, the Minister of Communal Economy, responding to the resolution of the Presidium of the Municipal National Council in Chmielnik from September 14th 1962, issued a decision to close the cemetery. The accompanying documentation states that the cemetery covered a plot of 0.96 hectares, the last burial took place in 1910, and that it had been closed due to “the passage of time and the expansion of the town.”
The area of the cemetery was divided. Its fragments were located within the geodesic plots numbered 1197/3, 1197/5, 1197/6, 1197/7, 1197/8, 1197/9, and adapted for private estates and a kindergarten square.
In 1987, the description of the cemetery stated: “There are no […] elements typical of Jewish cemeteries. […] In the old cemetery, fragments of the gateway and fencing have been preserved.”
In 2014, as part of the project of the former synagogue revitalization, at the initiative of the city authorities and local community activists, the so-called Shadow House commemorating the cemetery and the Jewish community of Chmielnik was opened at the cemetery. It is a shallowly embedded steel structure in the form of a cube.
The plots separated from the cemetery are the property of the Chmielnik Council and private owners.