Strzegowo Jewish Cemetery
The Jewish cemetery of Strzegowo was established at the end of the 19th century. It is located about two kilometers southwest of the town center near the road to Radzanów and covers an area of 0.25 hectares. The cemetery was destroyed by the Germans during the Second World War. The last known burial took place in 1941 and the cemetery was officially closed for burial purposes in 1964. More than a dozen tombstones have survived. The oldest one dates back to 1911 and the youngest one is from 1931.
The cemetery is now overgrown with forestry. In 1948, descendants of the Jews from Strzegowo exhumed the bodies of twenty Jews murdered in 1942 and erected a monument dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust. The commemoration monument was renovated in 1962, but it was damaged again in 2004. From 2002–2004, at the initiative of Barbara Goldman, the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage, the Polish-Jewish Program for the Restoration of Cemeteries, and the local authorities, the cemetery was renovated. The area was fenced, and an information board was placed at the front gate. Behind the monument, there is also a memorial matzevah (sacred pillar or tombstone) devoted to the Pietrakowski family and the pre-war inhabitants of the town. A list of matzevot is available at: https://cemetery.jewish.org.pl/list/c_26.
The first records of Strzegów date back to 1349. Between the 17th and 19th century, the town was owned by the Mdzewski family. The first Jews began to settle in Strzegowo around 1775, but dynamic growth of the Jewish population only took place at the end of the 19th century. This period also corresponded to the rapid industrialization of the village. In the second half of the 19th century, 510 people lived in 46 houses, including about 80 Jews. In 1921, there were 591 Jews among the 1,853 inhabitants of Strzegów. The local Jewish community was independent at the beginning of the 20th century at the initiative of Rabbi Jicchak Majer Piotrkowski, who lived in Strzegów from 1904 onwards.
Before the outbreak of the war, about 600 Jews lived in Strzegowo, which constituted over 30% of the total population. At the request of local Jews who wanted to avoid deportation to Mława, the Germans established a ghetto in Strzegowo in November 1941. On January 6, 1942, over 1,000 Jews from Bieżun were relocated to the Strzegowo ghetto, and in February 1942, 200 more Jews arrived from Drobin and Sierpc. On September 2, 1942, the Germans hanged 20 Jews accidentally caught on charges of mutiny. They were buried in the Karwiński Forest. The ghetto was liquidated in November 1942 and the Jews were deported directly to the extermination camp at Treblinka or to the ghetto in Mława from where they were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. As a result of three later bombings, the entire town of Strzegowo was seriously damaged.