Mława Old Jewish Cemetery
Mława was granted the Chełmno city rights in 1429. Jewish settlement began to emerge in the 15th century along with the city’s development that was based on trade with Russia. Economic competition between Christians and Jews resulted in many conflicts, including accusations of ritual murders from the mid-16th century. In 1564, out of 429 houses, only 5 belonged to Jewish families. In the following years, the community developed. There was already a synagogue in the city at that time. Until the mid-18th century, the local Jews belonged to the Ciechanów kehilla. In 1776, the Catholic inhabitants ordered the expulsion of Jews from the city.
The Jewish settlement began to renew after 1790. In 1824, the so-called Jewish district – a separate district intended only for Jews – was established, but it was too small to accommodate the Jewish people. Conflicts between nations were also fueled by pro-Russian sympathies of Jews after the November Uprising. In 1827, Jews constituted 35.5% of the total population (792 people), and in 1857 – 50.2% (1650 people). An additional revival in trade and the development of industry was caused by the opening of the line of the Nadwiślańska Railway in 1877. By 1910, the number of Jews in the city increased to 7,017 people (44.7%).
In the interwar period, part of the community emigrated abroad. In 1931, 6,143 Jews lived in the city. At the beginning of September 1939, one of the major battles of the September campaign took place near Mława. The city was also defended by Jews. In October 1939, Mława was incorporated into the Reich. At the turn of 1939 and 1940, about 3,000 Jews were transported to the camp in Działdowo, and another 4,000 to the ghettos in Biała Podlaska, Kosów Lacki, Winnica, and Michów. In their place, the Jews from Szreńsk, Drobin, Radzanów, Zieluń, Maków, Przasnysz, Kuczbork, Bieżuń, Lidzbark, Rypin and Lipno were relocated to the ghetto established in December 1940. A labor camp was also established.
In 1942, a number of executions took place in the ghetto. At the end of that year, approximately 6-7 thousand Jews were transported to the extermination camps in Treblinka (old and sick people) and Auschwitz-Birkenau. After the war, a group of 20 survivors returned to the city. Most of them left the city quickly, and one of the last ones who stayed there was Józef Poznański (who died in 1956). The date of establishing the first Jewish cemetery is unknown. Certainly, it functioned in 1775 (and most likely it operated for at least half a century) east of the city center, in the so-called Zabrody area, near the Jewish quarter.
It covered an area of about 1.3 ha. The cemetery functioned until the second half of the 19th century when the military training grounds and the barracks of the 6th Donetsk Cossack Regiment were not enough anymore. The devastation of the necropolis began in 1941. The Germans used the matzevot to build the so-called “Second Berlin” – a complex of military facilities on the premises of the training center in Krzywonos near Nosarzewo. Pieces of matzevot embedded in concrete are visible on the two columns that still stand there.