Zelow Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Country
Poland
Region
Łódzkie Voivodeship
District
Bełchatów
Settlement
Zelów
Site address
54, Leśna Street.
GPS coordinates
51.4753824, 19.2197442
Perimeter length
351 meters. The perimeter is approximate.
Is the cemetery demolished
yes
Type and height of existing fence
No fence
Preservation condition
Demolished and overbuilt Jewish cemetery
General site condition
The cemetery area was partially built up by private estates, the rest was converted into a sand mine. There is an unmarked mass grave of the Jews killed by Germans during WWII.
Number of existing gravestones
No tombstones preserved.
Date of oldest tombstone
N/A
Date of newest tombstone
N/A
Urgency of erecting a fence
High
Land ownership
Private
Preserved construction on site
No
Drone surveys
No

Historical overview

The Jewish cemetery in Zelów is located at Leśna Street, approximately 25 metres from the road (at the crossing with a dirt road), and approximately 1.7 km north of the town centre. The cemetery’s exact establishment date is unknown. The Jewish community of Zelów received permission to establish it in 1878, so it was likely established around that time. During World War II, the cemetery was significantly damaged. The tombstones were used, among other things, to construct pavements in nearby Buczek and to build the entrance gate to the building where the Gestapo had its headquarters at Kościuszko Street. In the post-war years, the cemetery fell into further disrepair. In 1965, by decision of the authorities, a sand mine was established in the cemetery and was in use until 1975. After the mine was closed, the area was used as an illegal landfill. No tombstones or other traces of the cemetery have survived. Until now, the cemetery has not been marked and is not commemorated in any way.

Zelów was granted town rights in 1957. It previously was a village which was (probably) founded in the 13th century. The oldest records of Jews in Zelów date to 1817. The Jewish population increased in the second half of the 19th century. Around 1867, 40 Jewish families lived in Zelów, and 100 in 1877. In 1909, the local community was granted permission to establish an independent synagogue district. In 1921, 1,859 Jews lived in Zelów. During World War II, in 1940, a ghetto was established in the town, in which, according to German sources, about 4,000 people were imprisoned (later this number increased to 6,000). After the liquidation of the ghetto in 1942, the Jews were transported to the extermination camp in Chełmno nad Nerem.