Rakow Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Country
Poland
Region
Świetokrzyskie Voivodeship
District
Kielce
Settlement
Raków
Site address
The cemetery is adjacent to 45, Kościuszki Street.
GPS coordinates
50.67775, 21.047638
Perimeter length
379 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
yes
Type and height of existing fence
No fence
Preservation condition
Demolished Jewish cemetery that has not been built over
General site condition
It is a demolished Jewish cemetery, where no tombstone has survived. There is a commemorative plaque dedicated to the former cemetery and several, beautifully engraved, richly ornamented matzevot fragments on the site.
Number of existing gravestones
There is a pile of fragments of matzevot in the area, containing around 100 pieces.
Date of oldest tombstone
1871
Date of newest tombstone
1905
Urgency of erecting a fence
High
Land ownership
State
Preserved construction on site
No
Drone surveys
Yes

Historical overview

Raków, founded in 1567, was an important Arian and Calvinist centre from the time of its founding until the beginning of the 17th century. The Sienieńscy—the owners of the town—were favourable to Jewish settlement and, as early as 1606, the Jewish community had their own synagogue. In 1663, there were 110 houses and 977 inhabitants, including 104 Jews. In 1827, the Jewish community numbered 966 people, constituting over 78% of the total population. In 1937, 1,040 Jews lived in Raków. In 1942, young Jews were sent to work in the Hugo Schneider Aktiengesellschaft Metalwarenfabrik factory in Skarżysko-Kamienna, and the rest of the community were deported to the extermination camp in Treblinka.

The Jewish cemetery was established at the beginning of the 17th century. It was located northeast of the market square, on the road to Łagów. In 1930, it was enlarged as the cemetery was overcrowded. It covered an area of 0.6 hectares and was surrounded by a brick fence. By the beginning of the 20th century there was a funeral house next to the cemetery. The community records show that it required renovation in the 1930’s. The cemetery was almost completely destroyed by the Germans during World War II. The area is now devoid of tombstones and served as a pasture. The matzevot were used for construction purposes. After the war, only the ground-level fragments of the wall remained in the cemetery, and it was officially closed for burials in 1957. The last burial most likely took place there in 1942. After 1987, a granite stone with a plaque and inscription which read: “There was a Jewish cemetery in this place until the 1940’s. Peace to Their Memory,” was placed in the cemetery. In 2017, several dozen fragments of matzevot that were recovered during the demolition of a barn and an abandoned building in the city were returned to the cemetery.