Siedlce Old Jewish Cemetery
The second “old” Jewish cemetery in Siedlce was established before 1798, and perhaps even as early as the second quarter of the 18th century. It was located on the western outskirts of the city. The cemetery was in use until the beginning of the 19th century (around 1807) when, for sanitary reasons, it was decided to create another cemetery, even further west from the developing city. The cemetery was completely destroyed during World War II. In the period of the Polish People’s Republic, the cemetery was built over and developed. There are now service buildings and apartment blocks in the area.
The first records of the city of Siedlce date back to 1448, although settlement in the area already began by the 9th and 10th centuries. Siedlce was granted town rights in 1547 around which time the first Jews settled there. In the 17th and 18th centuries, during which time Siedlce was under the rule of the Czartoryski and Ogiński families, the town underwent significant economic development. An independent Jewish community existed in the town as early as the 17th century. In 1756, 631 Jews lived in the town, and 3,072 in 1820, constituting 70% of the total population. For a long time, the city was an important centre in the sociocultural life of the Podlasie Jews. During World War I, invaders attacked the Jewish population, and several dozen Jews were killed.
In 1918, Jews constituted 54.7% of the population (16,820 people), and 36.1% in 1931 (14,793 people). During World War II, the Germans burned down the synagogue. They created an open ghetto in 1940, and a closed ghetto in August 1941. In addition to the Jews of Siedlce, Jews from Kalisz and nearby towns, as well as a group of Roma, were relocated to the ghetto. The ghetto was liquidated in August 1942. The Jews were then gathered in the old Jewish cemetery, where approximately 2,000 Jews were shot, and over 15,000 people were transported to the Treblinka II extermination camp. Until November 28, 1942, there was a residual ghetto and a forced labour camp in the city.