Re: Jewish Cemeteries in Bialystok Region #poland
<< If anyone knows of any preservation activities in these
Cemeteries, please share them with the group
In the last two years I have been to Eastern Poland twice and
have taken some photographs of the cemeteries in Bialystok,
Grodek, Krynki, Michalowo, Sokolka, and Tykocin
I will place these photos on the Internet and provide links to
the group later today or tomorrow
Mark Halpern >>
This is the situation with cemeteries in Zabludow.
Before the war there were at least four. Two were very small with just a
handful of very, very old stones, and were located right next to the wooden
synagogue, built in 1638. A young couple were buried there together after
they both died of "plague" after collapsing right under the wedding canopy.
This occurred in late 1600s. Many superstitions arose in the community
from this incident. Both these very small cemeteries were blown to pieceswhere the synagogue was blown up on June 26th 1941.
There was also a much larger "old" cemetery. Many Rabbs and righteous
ones were buried here. This cemetery doesn't exist at all. I haven't even
been able to figure out exactly where it was located. Eber Perelgut in
Chicago visited this cemetery right after the war when he returned from
service in the Soviet Army. He told me that he spent several hours there
looking for Matzevahs but found none. He did however find many bones.
On the grounds of the cemetery cows were grazing. After this he left and
told himself that he would never again return to Zabludow where he was born and raised.
The next cemetery was the "New" cemetery. I think the first burial there
was in the late 1800s. Many of my family members were buried there
including my grandfather, and two uncles who died very young. This
cemetery has no Matzevahs at all, just the stones upon which they sat which are now partly covered by weeds. There is a small stone wall around the cemetery which is in poor condition. Towering over this scene is a monument to Rabbi Avraham Akiva Subotnik, Rabbi in Zabludow 1904-24. It also is very damaged.
Next to this "new" cemetery are large farming fields. In 1940 the Soviets
built a small military airport there. In June 20 of 1941 the Soviet
Commissar of Zabludow named Margolin (a Jew, not >from Zabludow, and whose
father was a religious scholar) announced that he was going to take part of
this cemetery and plow it under to expand the military airport. A
delegation of mostly elderly Jews >from the community went to speak to him
He listened to them and told them to come back to see him again on June
27th. They left feeling that they were likely going to now be sent to
Siberia. Of course the war broke out and the town was burned on June 26th.
Early in the German occupation the Germans made a group of Jews including
a relative of mine by marriage take apart the statue of Lenin that the
Russians had built in the market square. They made them take it to this
Jewish cemetery for a "Jewish" burial. On the way they were abused and
beaten. On the way back a group of Poles had assembled and came at them
with pitchforks, axes, etc, and tore some of them to pieces while they
made them pray to god to save them. During the period of the Zabludow
Ghetto Jewish slave laborers were made to remove the Matzevahs >from the
Zabludow cemeteries. They were taken by the Germans crushed and used to
widen the road out of Bialystok toward Moscow. A German company called
Cercov (best translation >from Yiddish) had the contract for this work. I
spent a lot of time trying to trace this company but without success. As
of a couple of years ago one of these slave laborers was still alive in a
nursing home in Texas but in very poor shape. He gave his video testimony
to his grand daughter several years earlier, but won't let his story be
told to anyone outside the family. Turned down Shoa Visual History
Foundation, etc, and also won't let any information be given to me.
It appears that at the end of the war there were a small number of
Matzevahs left in this cemetery that the Germans had not removed. They
appear to have been removed by Poles. When I was in Zabludow one of my
Polish friends offered to show me where one of them was and had been used
as a knife sharpener, but I was already pretty overwhelmed and refused.
Tomasz Wisniewski a number of years ago located a Matzevah that was in a
pile of old concrete. It is >from somewhere in Zabludow, and is as far as
I can tell the only one left >from Zabludow that can be read. I have it on
It's very hard to figure out emotionally and also physically how to best
deal with this remaining almost totally wrecked cemetery in Zabludow. A
young Polish farmer across the street offered to mow it and apply a weed
killer a couple of times a year for $300. Someday I'd like to plant a row
of shrubs around its perimeter (approx cost 2,000) and also put up a
historical marker on it's grounds explaining what it is and memorializing
the community. I've probably spent $20,000 of my own money on all my
Zabludow projects, and for the time being am pretty tapped out. Maybe
someday I'll find someone who can help, but there are actually higher
priorities. Below are links to some of my webpages about Zabludow