Okuniew Jewish Cemetery
Jewish settlement in Okuniew began to develop at the end of the 19th century. Abraham Ostrzeg—an artist, sculptor, and architect of avant-garde monuments in Jewish cemeteries in Warsaw and Łódź—was from Okuniew. In 1921, 498 Jews lived in the town (26% of the entire population). In March 1942, most of Okuniew’s Jews were deported by the Germans to the Warsaw Ghetto and were later murdered in Treblinka. The Jewish cemetery in Okinawa is located about 800 metres from the market square, near Cmentarna Street and the Roman Catholic cemetery. It is located within the geodesic plot no. 827 and covers an area of 5,209 square metres. Presumably, it was established in the mid-nineteenth century, though the exact date remains unknown.
During World War II, the Germans carried out executions in the cemetery, and the bodies of the victims were buried there. The cemetery probably fell into disrepair at that time. The tombstones were used by locals as building material and for windowsills. On October 9, 1964, the Minister of Municipal Economy issued an order to close the cemetery. In the 1990 cemetery charter, in a paragraph titled “General state of preservation,” it is stated that, “Only a few tombstones in fragments have been preserved,” and there was the threat of the “complete obliteration of the traces of the cemetery.” The cemetery suffered extensive destruction. Only 20-30 tombstones have survived in various conditions, and most of which were moved from the actual place of burial. Until around 2005, there was a metal cross above one of the graves. The cemetery is unfenced, and the borders are imperceptible. The area is covered with forest.
Since 2001, some basic cleaning work has been carried out at the cemetery by students at the Junior High School in Okuniew, Junior High School No. 2 in Sulejówek, and volunteers of the “Klub Ośmiu.” The owner of the cemetery is the Commune of Halinów and it is listed in the Provincial Register of Immovable Monuments. The list of preserved tombstones is available at https://cemetery.jewish.org.pl/list/c_17.