Kleszczele Jewish Cemetery
The Kleszczele Jewish cemetery is located about 1.5 km southwest of the town center, behind the property at 5 Stacja Kolejowa Street. The exact date of its founding is unknown. The cemetery was established in the 19th century. It was in use until World War II. At that time, six Jews that were shot by the Gestapo on November 5, 1942 were buried there. The devastation of the cemetery likely began during the Second World War and was continued in the following decades. During the Polish People’s Republic, the area was used as a pasture. In records from 1986, in the “General State of Preservation” paragraph, the following was written: “The cemetery is overgrown with young pines. The preserved tombstones are in poor condition.” The following was also indicated: “The complete obliteration of the tombstones and graves,” a possible threat and foreboding of what was to come.
In 1993, a monument was erected at the cemetery. In 1996, a fire broke out at the cemetery. Currently, there are only a few single tombstones in the form of sandstone steles and granite fieldstones, dated 1885-1938, and a cuboid monument with two plaques with the inscriptions: “In memory of the Jews of Kleszczele murdered by the Nazis. On the 50th anniversary of their death. Kleszczele 1993 “, and ”They Survived the Ghetto: Josef Białostocki, Izak Kleszczelski, Zelman Waserman, Symche Bursztyn, Lejzer Melamed.” There is no fence and the borders are invisible. The area is overgrown with untreated vegetation (grass and shrubs). The facility is listed in the Municipal and Provincial Register of Monuments and in the Register of Immovable Monuments of the Podlaskie Voivodeship. The register contains an incorrect location for the cemetery.
The first records of the presence of Jews in Kleszczele are from the 16th century. From 1688, Jewish settlement in the town was forbidden. The development of the Jewish community began only in the post-partition period. In 1807, 75 Jews lived in Kleszczele, in 1897, 710 Jews, and in 1931, 645 (31% of the total population). Most of them were killed by the Germans at Treblinka in 1942.