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Jewish cemetery (Pakosz Dolny Street)

Heritage Sites – Cemeteries
Polska / świętokrzyskie

In the second half of the nineteenth century, due to the rapid development of Jewish settlement in Kielce, the local Jewish community faced a necessity of orginising a new burial place. Previously, few Jews of Kielce burried their dead in the cemetery in nearby Chęciny. Because of this in 1868 land in the farm Pakosz was purchased at the junction of the current Pakosz Dolny and Kusocińskiego Streets. At that time it was a parcel of land located outside built-up areas. Meir Baraban in his published in 1929 essay „Zabytki historyczne Żydów w Polsce” (“Historical Monuments of Jews in Poland”) wrote that the Jews of Kielce “bought the square for the cemetery very far from the town and there they burry their dead even today”. The first documented burial took place two years later. The brotherhood of Chewra Kadisza took care of organization and management of the cemetery. In Kielce also functioned a society called Chesed Shel Emet, which covered the cost of funerals of the poor and lonely. With time, a mortuary was built, which was called in Hebrew beyt tahara, the accommodation for the caretaker and gravedigger was furnished, the fence was built and the access road was hardened. Initially a small area of the cemetery was enlarged in the twenties of the 20th century.

The cemetery is the burial place of many people who played a significant role in the life of Kielce. In 1915 buried there was Chaim Szmuel Horowitz, known as the tzadik of Chęciny, the great-grandson of the famous Seer of Lublin, and two years later they also buried there Motele Twerski ie Mordechaj Kuzmirer originating from the Chernobyl Hasidic dynasty. The graves of both tzaddikim became a place of pilgrimage of many religious Jews.

In 1931 a book entitled "Dom żywych" ("The house of the living") was published. It contained the inventory of tombstones from the Jewish cemetery in Kielce, which was written by Mosze Menechem Mendel and it also contained the information on the buried within prominent personages.

During the Second World War on the terrirory of the necropolis Nazis performed numerous executions on the Jewish population. Bodies of the murdered Jews and of those who died in the ghetto in Kielce were buried there as well. During the Second World War on the terrirory of the necropolis Nazis performed numerous executions on the Jewish population. Bodies of the murdered Jews and of those who died in the ghetto in Kielce were buried there as well. We will quote here an excerpt from the memories of Adam Helfand, published in the book of Eugeniusz Fąfara entitled "Gehenna ludności żydowskiej" (Gehenna of the Jewish population"). Adam Helfand, who was forced by the Germans to collect from the streets the corpses of Jews shot during the dissolution of the ghetto, saw on the cemetery "feverish work on digging huge pits, to which were thrown the victims of the operation. (...) Before the dead were burried, we had to strip them naked. The clothing was burned, and in the ashes the Nazis were looking for gold. Some of our mates were forced by terror and death threats to strike out the golden teeth from the bodies". After the liberation, the remains of the Jews exhumed in various spots of the city between 1945 and 1946 were buried in the cemetery.

On the 8th July 1946 the cemetery was the place of the funeral of the victims of the Kielce pogrom in 1937. Coffins with the bodies were laid in a mass grave. The funeral ceremony was attended by several thousand people, including representatives of national and foreign Jewish organizations, political parties, army, militia and workplaces. The state authorities were represented by minister Stanisław Radkiewicz. A few archival photos taken at the funeral can be viewed on the website www.gexweb.com .

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50.8566° N / 20.6081° E
50°51'23" N / 20°36'29" E
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