Ciechanowiec New Jewish Cemetery
The new Jewish cemetery in Ciechanowiec was most likely established around 1850, east of the town and south of the Catholic cemetery at Sienkiewicza Street. The cemetery was destroyed during World War II. After the war it was used as an illegal sand mine. Currently, the area is covered with forest. Matzevot recovered from the town were stored for a long time at the local Krzysztof Kluk Agricultural Museum in Ciechanowiec. In 2008, at the initiative of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland with the aid of local authorities, the cemetery’s borders were marked with erratic boulders. In the cemetery there is moreover a fragment of a stone wall with a gate, an information board, and a monument dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust. About 30 recovered tombstones have been returned to the cemetery, which are dated between 1853 and 1934. There are sandstone stelae and tombstones made of erratic boulders, as well as slabs used after the war as grinding wheels.
The first information about Ciechanowiec dates to the 13th century. Ciechanowiec was granted Magdeburg town rights at the beginning of the 14th century. In the 16th century, the town was an important centre of the Arian movement. The first written information about Jews in the town dates to 1523. The Jews of Ciechanowiec initially belonged to the kehilla (organized Jewish community) in Tykocin, and an independent kehilla was likely established in the second half of the 17th century. In the second half of the 18th century, Jews constituted about 60% of the town’s population and were the fourth largest kehilla in the Podlasie Region. After 1807 and following the Treaty of Tylża, the town was divided: the eastern part came under Russian rule and the western part under Polish rule.
About 900 Jews (about 75%) lived in the Polish part of Ciechanowiec (the so-called New Town). On the Russian side, the community numbered about 2,500 people (less than 70%). There were two separate synagogue boards and many well-known Orthodox rabbis, including: Szabtaj ben Eljezer Zussman, Chajim ben Perec ha-kohen, Jaakow Lejb Heller, Eliiachu Baruch Komaj, Dawid Kamin, and Mosze ha-Lewi Rubinstein. During World War II, refugees from other occupied Polish towns flocked to Ciechanowiec, some of whom were incorporated into the Red Army. In October 1941, a ghetto was established in Ciechanowiec, where Jews from the surrounding villages were also gathered. A year later, shortly before the liquidation of the ghetto, the Germans carried out a mass execution of about 285 Jews in nearby Pobirki. The rest were transported to the extermination camp in Treblinka II, and some to Majdanek in Lublin.