Sokolow Podlaski Old Jewish Cemetery
Jewish settlement in Sokołów Podlaski began to develop the 16th or 17th century. 7,745 Jews lived in the town in 1910 (70% of the total population), and 4,430 in 1921. Most of Sokołów Podlaski’s Jews were murdered in 1942 by the Germans in Treblinka. After the end of the war, several dozen Jews returned to Sokołów Podlaski, and in the following months, they left the town for security reasons.
The cemetery is located about 250 metres southwest of the market square, between Magistracka Street (formerly Bóżnicza Street) and Wiatraki Street. The cemetery’s establishment date is unknown, though presumably it was established at the end of the 16th or 17th century, simultaneous to the development of the local Jewish community, and was in active use until the opening of the second cemetery (between 1880 and 1920). After World War I, the cemetery was fenced thanks to funds from Bucze Rubinsztejn and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. In the interwar period, the cemetery fell into disrepair.
The cemetery was destroyed during World War II. By order of starost Ernest Gramss, the tombstones were used for construction works, including for paving Węgrowska Street near the seat of the starosty. The cemetery was moreover leveled. This work was carried out by Jewish forced labourers. The Germans also carried out executions in the cemetery. After 1945, the cemetery was used as a municipal park. A hotel and the indoor swimming pool of the Sports and Recreation Centre were built within the area. As a result of the destruction, all the above-ground elements of the cemetery have disappeared. There is no fence. In the southern part, there is a granite stone with a plaque commemorating the cemetery and the local Jewish community. There are small information boards at the edge of the cemetery. The maintenance work in the park is carried out by municipal services. Dozens of tombstones recovered in recent years are in the warehouses of City Hall and the Museum of the Bug Lands in Sterdyń.