Melnytsya Old Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Country
Ukraine
Region
Volyn
District
Kovel’
Settlement
Mel’nytsya
Site address
35, Holovna Street. The cemetery is in the woods behind the house.
GPS coordinates
51.15453, 25.09833
Perimeter length
523 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
no
Type and height of existing fence
No fence
Preservation condition
Unfenced Jewish cemetery
General site condition
The cemetery is strongly overgrown. Three gravestones were found (GPS coordinates 51.15470, 25.09966; 51.15445, 25.09812; 51.15498, 25.09906). More gravestones could possibly be found after clearing the vegetation on the site.
Number of existing gravestones
3
Date of oldest tombstone
Date of newest tombstone
Urgency of erecting a fence
High
Land ownership
Property of local community
Preserved construction on site
Drone surveys
Yes

Historical overview

The estimated period of the cemetery’s establishment dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries, accompanying the emergence of the local Jewish community. The cemetery appears on Russian maps from the mid-19th century. According to Yizkor Mel’nytsya, two Jewish cemeteries were located next to each other in this area, 100 metres from the town’s beit-midrash. In 1908 to 1909, the old cemetery had reached its limits and was closed. By WWII, both cemeteries were severely overgrown.

After the destruction of the Jewish community during WWII, the cemetery sites were abandoned. At least three gravestones are preserved, and further clearing and research may be useful.According to some sources, Jews were living in Mel’nytsya by the year 1569. In 1787, there were 54 Jews in the town, and by 1867, the community had a synagogue. The Jewish population had reached 1,599 (62% of the total population) by 1897. In the early 20th century, one of the town’s rabbis was Avrom Finkelshtein. In 1914, Jews owned a pharmacy, a tavern and three dozen trade places in Mel’nytsya. During WWI, many Jewish houses were destroyed. In the first years after WWI, Jews suffered greatly from pillage and violence of the Petlura troops and Belachovzes gangs. During the interwar period, there were four synagogues, two libraries, and a drama group, as well as an active heder for children’s education. The Jewish population numbered 875 (63% of the total population) in 1921. During the 1930s, the Zionist movements Ken Betar, Halutzim and Young Halutzim began operating in Mel’nytsya. In early July 1941, Germans murdered 60 Jews in the town. The total Jewish population at this time is estimated at 1,040. On July 16, 1941, another 280 Jews were shot. By September 3, 1942, all the Jews of Mel’nytsya had been executed.

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