Rajgrod Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Country
Poland
Region
Podlaskie Voivodeship
District
Grajewo
Settlement
Rajgród
Site address
Cemetery doesn’t have an address. The cemetery is situated in a forested area between Okoniówek Street and Ślepe Lake. Heading south from the small village of Okoniówek on Okoniówek Street, the cemetery is located along the western side of the street.
GPS coordinates
53.7291152, 22.6558685
Perimeter length
594 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
no
Type and height of existing fence
No fence
Preservation condition
Unfenced Jewish cemetery
General site condition
The destroyed Jewish cemetery is located in a forested area, the territory is overgrown with trees and dense thickets. The cemetery has been destroyed and no intact tombstones have been preserved. There is a partially destroyed Holocaust memorial. The Holocaust memorial was partly destroyed by vandals. In 2016 the memorial was covered by graffiti writings with antisemitic statements. There are also old traces of digging up some of the graves.
Number of existing gravestones
Our field team found 3 large fragments of stones situated close to the road, which are likely to be the foundations of the tombstones. There are many smaller fragments. One small piece of tombstone has a Hebrew inscription on it.
Date of oldest tombstone
N/A
Date of newest tombstone
N/A
Urgency of erecting a fence
High
Land ownership
Other
Preserved construction on site
No
Drone surveys
Yes

Historical overview

Jews were first recorded in Rajgród at the end of the 16th century. In 1897, 1,625 Jews (54% of the total population) lived in the town and 745 in 1921 (34%), most of whom were murdered between 1941-1942, during a local pogrom in June 1941 and in Treblinka. The cemetery is located about 2.2 km west of the town centre, between Okoniówek Steet and the Ślepe Lake, and covers a plot of land shaped like a rectangular trapezoid, with an area of approximately 1.47 hectares. The date of the cemetery’s establishment is unknown, though the earliest mention of its existence dates to 1719. The cemetery was involved in a dispute between the Jews of Rajgród and the Chevra Kadisha from Tykocin. The Chevra Kadisha brotherhood was established in 1747. The cemetery was expanded around 1835. The decay of the cemetery began during World War II. By order of the Germans, some tombstones were used to reinforce the roads and Jews were used as forced labourers. The tombstones were also used to fill the foundations of the house of the water mill administrator on the Wojda estate. The degradation of cemetery continued in the following decades and the area was afforested. In 2014, at the initiative of the descendants of Rajgród Jews, in cooperation with the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, the cemetery was cleaned up. A monument commemorating the local Jewish community and the cemetery was unveiled at the edge of the cemetery. Between 2014 and 2015, the monument was destroyed several times. Currently, there are only solitary, damaged sandstone tombstones within the cemetery. At Okoniówek Street, there is a damaged monument and there is no fence, though the boundaries of the cemetery are visible thanks to a preserved earth embankment. The area is covered with coniferous forest. The cemetery is listed in the Provincial Register of Monuments.

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