Opatow Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Country
Poland
Region
Świetokrzyskie Voivodeship
District
Opatów
Settlement
Opatów
Site address
The cemetery is located opposite to 11, Krzysztofa Szydłowieckiego Street.
GPS coordinates
50.796972, 21.427444
Perimeter length
1,190 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
no
Type and height of existing fence
No fence
Preservation condition
Unfenced Jewish cemetery
General site condition
A few traces of the existence of the cemetery have survived. The area is neglected. A kindergarten and a community center were built on part of the area. The cemetery area has been largely transformed into a park. In the southern part of the park, many fragments of tombstones have survived. A monument commemorating the Jewish cemetery was also placed in the park.
Number of existing gravestones
25 fragments of tombstones have survived, 18 of which were embedded in a new concrete base in the shape of a matzeva and laid on the ground. One of them also has an inscription in Polish "In memory of Jews from Opatów 1989" (“Pamięci Żydów Opatowa 1989”).
Date of oldest tombstone
1867
Date of newest tombstone
1906
Urgency of erecting a fence
High
Land ownership
State
Preserved construction on site
Drone surveys
Yes

Historical overview

The first Jewish settlement in Opatów dates back to the 16th century. In 1921, 5,432 Jews lived in the town, which was 61% of the total population. The majority of them were murdered by the Germans in Treblinka in 1942.

The cemetery is located approximately 350m south-east of the market square, on a hill above the Kania River, near the intersection of Mikołaja Kopernika Street and Partyzantów Street.

The cemetery was established no later than in the fourth decade of the 17th century. The oldest record of its existence dates back to 1639, when Jews accused the Canon Szymon Zelewski, of participating in destroying tombstones.

Before 1939, the cemetery was situated on a L shaped plot, with an area of approximately 3 hectares. The area was fenced, a funeral home stood at the gate, and the graves of the tzadikim from Opatów were located near the entrance.

During the Holocaust, the cemetery became a place of execution. The Germans shot and buried about 300 people there, including several dozen Jews (mostly the members of the Judenrat and the Jewish Order Service) who were supposed to have been left to clean up the ghetto after the liquidation. In the following months, at the cemetery, the Germans murdered people caught while hiding. The last burial likely took place on September 5th 1945, after the raid of the house of Lejb Zilberberg.

The cemetery was destroyed by some residents and the city authorities. As the Presidium of the Provincial National Council in Kielce stated in 1958, the destruction took place after 1945 as a result of the theft of tombstones. On November 26th 1956, the Minister of Municipal Economy issued a decision to close the cemetery, and on January 27th 1962, to liquidate it. In the following years, two kindergartens, a community center, and a bandstand were built there, while the rest of the area was transformed into a park. A fragment of the stone wall has been preserved at the cemetery.

In 1989, thanks to the efforts of the Association of the Opatów Region Enthusiasts, a lapidarium was established at the cemetery. The owner of the cemetery is the State Treasury. The lapidarium has been entered in the Register of Immovable Monuments of the Świętokrzyskie Province (A.532, April 22, 1991).