Chodel Jewish Cemetery
Chodel was founded in 1517 by King Sigismund the Old, on the site of a former market settlement. The main source of income was agriculture and crafts. From 1570, the De Non Tolerandis Judaeis privilege was in force there, forbidding Jews from settling and buying houses in the town. At the beginning of the 17th century, Chodel became the property of the Jesuits (church town). The oldest document confirming a Jewish tenant’s residence in the town dates to 1746. In 1857, the number of Jews increased to 123, constituting 20.8% of the total population. During the second half of the 1930’s, Jews constituted almost half of the population of Chodel. During World War II, a ghetto and a forced labor camp were established there. In May 1942, an execution took place in Chodel, in which several hundred people were murdered. In the same year, Jews in the Chodel Ghetto were deported to Sobibór and Bełżec.
The Jewish cemetery was established no later than 1872 (right after the founding of the synagogue). Jerzy Chomicki in his book “Studium historyczno-urbanistyczny” (“Historical and Urban Study”) describes it as follows:
“The cemetery is located to the north of the settlement, by the road to Adelin, it initially covered a small area of approximately 50 x 50 cubits (approximately 900 square meters). With time, it was enlarged to approximately 1 ha [hectares], and in the interwar period it was surrounded by a bedrock wall”.
After the deportation of the Jews in 1942, the Germans began to destroy the cemetery. The fence was dismantled after the war by the inhabitants of Chodel. The unattended cemetery deteriorated in the following years. The remains of the tombstones were used for construction purposes. Thanks to an anonymous informant, it is known that at least one basement in a private house is covered with tombstones from the Jewish cemetery until this day. Over time, the area became an illegal rubbish dump as well as a sand mine. The area was also used for cattle grazing. No tombstones have survived in the area (of about 0.6 ha). In 2015, in connection with plans to build a sports field, the commune authorities commissioned professional field studies of the cemetery area. As a result, burial pits on the road adjacent to the cemetery and remains of the fence wall foundation were discovered. The construction of the sports field has been suspended, but until now (2021), the area remains unmarked and there is no form of commemoration.