Jewish Cemeteries in Bialystok Region #poland


Bialystoker
 

Earlier this month, I posted a message about Cemetery projects in
our area and described these Cemeteries as decaying day by day.
As a result, Marjorie Holden suggested that priorities be
re-examined to address these Cemeteries and the discussion has
continued.

There are two sources of information about these Cemeteries that
are readily accessible. One is the IAJGS Cemetery Project. Access
the Poland section at
http://www.jewishgen.org/cemetery/e-europe/poland.html. The other
is Tomasz Wisniewski's book JEWISH BIALYSTOK AND
SURROUNDINGS IN EASTERN POLAND.

In his book, Tomasz provides the following information on the
number of Matzevot.

Bialystok 1 of 5 still exists with 5-7,000 stones
Bielsk Podlaski "remains"
Bocki 2 sites: one has 1 stone, other "remains"
Bransk 200 stones
Choroszcz 1 of 2 still exists with 259 stones
Dabrowa 1 of 2 still exists with 70 stones
Drohiczyn many stones
Grodek few "relics"
Jalowka 1 of 2 still exists with several stones
Janow Sokolski 200
Jasionowka 2 sites: one has 400 stones, other few
Kleszczele "ruins"/several stones
Knyszyn 700
Korycin several
Krynki more than 3,000
Michalowo 50
Mielnik 50
Milejczyce several
Narew 70
Narewka 230
Orla 2 sites: one has none, other 40 stones
Siemiatycze none
Sokolka 1,000
Suchowola "rubble"
Suraz 10
Tykocin 450
Wasilkow 3 sites: 2 have none, other has 13stones
Zabludow 2 sites: one has none, other "fragments"

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


bartmant@earthlink.net <bartmant@...>
 

<< 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 >>


Hi,

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 pieces
where 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
my website.

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
cemeteries.

http://www.zabludow.com/cemeteries.htm

Tilford Bartman


Bialystoker
 

In 2001, I visited Tykocin, Grodek, and Michalowo. In 2002, I
also visited Krynki and Sokolka. I have placed Cemetery photos of
my visit on the Adobe Shutterfly website, so they can be shared
with you and other interested people. Just use the links and URLs
below to gain access.

Grodek
http://adobe.shutterfly.com/osi.jsp?i=67b0de21b32fec36c44d

Krynki
http://adobe.shutterfly.com/osi.jsp?i=67b0de21b32ff4bcc4cb

Michalowo
http://adobe.shutterfly.com/osi.jsp?i=67b0de21b32ffd0105da

Sokolka
http://adobe.shutterfly.com/osi.jsp?i=67b0de21b32f0bf00550

Tykocin
http://adobe.shutterfly.com/osi.jsp?i=67b0de21b32fed0105d2

Comments are welcome.

I also have my personal photos of the Bialystok Cemetery and will
make those photos available as well.

Mark Halpern

----- Original Message -----
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


Bialystoker
 

I have now placed my photos of the Bialystok Cemetery on the
Adobe Shutterfly website at:
http://adobe.shutterfly.com/osi.jsp?i=67b0de21b32fce70452a.

This is the Wschodnia Street Cemetery, also known as the Bagnovke
Cemetery. It was opened in 1892 and operated into the 1960s. Of
the original 30,000 to 40,000 Matzevot, only 5,000 to 7,000 still
exist and many of them are in very poor condition. Parts of the
original Cemetery were turned into a housing development and
Matzevot were reportedly used for the street and the foundation
of these houses. The City now owns this property and it is
considered a public park.

Tomasz Wisniewski reports that there were once 5 cemeteries. The
large Jewish Cemetery that was used before 1892 is now under
Bialystok's central park near a puppet theater. There is one
Matzevot in the park which has been desecrated with graffiti.
Near that one Matzevot is a grass covered mound. Rumors exist
that remains >from the Jewish cemetery are to be found under that
mound.

The Jewish Cholera Cemetery is now the site of the ZUS building
and parking lot. ZUS is the state social security agency. An
expansion of this building created controversy in recent years.
The Jewish Communities of Poland complained about this
construction as it violated Polish law protecting burial sites.
Although the expansion has been completed, negotiations with the
City and ZUS continue.

The Zabia Street Cemetery -- the Ghetto Cemetery -- was used
during the War and was fixed up after the return of Jews. In
1971, during State sponsored anti-Semitic actions, the cemetery
was destroyed. The site of this cemetery is now a public park and
has two memorials to the Jews of the Ghetto.

Tomasz talks about another old cemetery that existed, but I do
not know its location.

Mark Halpern

----- Original Message -----
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


bartmant@earthlink.net <bartmant@...>
 

Original Message:
-----------------
From: Bialystoker Bialystoker@comcast.net
Subject: [bialystok] Re: Jewish Cemeteries in Bialystok Region


Dear Group:

Tilford Bartman provided some history about the 4 Jewish
cemeteries of Zabludow. Even though all these cemeteries have
been ravaged and only one Matzevah may still exist, the
cemeteries are still there and should be considered hallowed
ground.

Tilford mentioned his desire to somehow commemorate his ancestors
and memorialize the Jewish community of Zabludow by planting
shrubs and placing a historical marker.

In my opinion, all the Jewish cemeteries in the BIALYGen area
(and all in Eastern Europe), even those with no visible above
ground remnant, are part of the history of our ancestors. These
places are worthy of our efforts to memorialize our ancestors who
lived full and productive lives before the War.

If this is an objective of the group, we will have to decide how
to proceed. If you do not already know about the Polish Jewish
Cemetery Restoration Project (PJCRP), please see their website at
http://www.pjcrp.org/menu_eng.html

Mark Halpern

Hi,

I agree that all the cemeteries no matter their condition are wothy of some
effort. For me the question of the cemetery in Zabludow is a matter of
priorities, and right now it is not the highest one. Also I'm concerned
that even if I made the effort and spent the money to do something for the
Zabludow cemetery, without someone there locally to make some effort to
maaintain and protect it, it's a lost cause in the long run. That is why
I think ideally you need some interest and involvement of local well meaning Polish people. I've had contact with a couple of Polish people in zabludow who are troubled by the condition of the cemetery, and also one such person indicated to me that some of the damage was done post war by local Poles,and not just by Germans during the war.

I would like to see the site (or approximate site) of the Zabludow
"ancient" wooden synagogue recognized with a historical marker. To me it
is a shame that there is nothing for this synagogue built in 1638, and made a historical landmark of Poland in 1929. I've let them know at the
Association of Conservators of Historic Landmarks of Poland, that if they
build a replica of the synagogue at the Museum Podlaskie in Bialystok as
planned, I feel it will be a essential part of the project to appropraitely
mark the original site. They readily agree with this, but I think it is
primarily a question of funds. I will be going to the original site with
them next week.

Up to now no one seems to have located just where the foundations of the
synagogue were. I think I was very close in 2001. I was with several
elderly Poles >from Zabludow who remember the synagogue like it was
yesterday, but the area is so transformed that they can't quite figure it
out. I hope that perhaps the people >from the Conservators may be able to
do so. A Fire Station, perhaps built in the late 1970's or early 1980's is on or very near the site of the synagogue. This is certainly a bit ironic given that the synagogue was burned and blown up in a rather massive
conflgration by the the German army on June 26th 1941. Next week I hope
to at least begin a discussion in Zabludow regarding where might be an
appropriate and legally permissible location for a marker. I also plan to
let them known again that if the replica ever goes up without the original
site getting proper treatment there aren't going to be good feelings about
that. At some point I'll have to start figuring out how to pay for this,
but I think that is at least a year away.

There is so much that could and needs to be done throughout the Bialystok
region that it is rather overwhelming to think about. It's really
something that may outlast most if not all of us on this list. Hopefully there will be a next generation of Bialygeners, but I don't know?

Tilford Bartman


Bialystoker
 

Dear Group:

Tilford Bartman provided some history about the 4 Jewish
cemeteries of Zabludow. Even though all these cemeteries have
been ravaged and only one Matzevah may still exist, the
cemeteries are still there and should be considered hallowed
ground.

Tilford mentioned his desire to somehow commemorate his ancestors
and memorialize the Jewish community of Zabludow by planting
shrubs and placing a historical marker.

In my opinion, all the Jewish cemeteries in the BIALYGen area
(and all in Eastern Europe), even those with no visible above
ground remnant, are part of the history of our ancestors. These
places are worthy of our efforts to memorialize our ancestors who
lived full and productive lives before the War.

If this is an objective of the group, we will have to decide how
to proceed. If you do not already know about the Polish Jewish
Cemetery Restoration Project (PJCRP), please see their website at
http://www.pjcrp.org/menu_eng.html.

Mark Halpern

----- Original Message -----
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
cemeteries.

http://www.zabludow.com/cemeteries.htm

Tilford Bartman