KIELCE: świętokrzyskie Print

Coat of arms of Kielce Alternate names: Kielce [Pol], Keltz [Yid], Kelts, Kilts, Kiltz, Kel'tsy. Russian: Кельце. קילץ- Hebrew. 50°50' N, 20°40' E, 99 miles S of Warszawa, 61 miles NNE of Kraków. 1900 Jewish population: 6,399. Yizkors: Al betenu she-harav--Fun der khorever heym (Tel Aviv, 1981) and Sefer Kielce. Toldot Kehilat Kielce. Miyom Hivsuduh V'ad Churbanah (Tel Aviv, 1957). JOWBR burial list: Jewish Cemetery. This city in central Poland with 202,609 inhabitants in 2006 It is also the capital city of the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship since 1999, previously in Kielce Voivodeship (1919-1939, 1945-1998). The city is located in the middle of the Świętokrzyskie Mountains (Holy Cross Mountains) at the banks of Silnica river in the north of Lesser Poland province. Once an important limestone mining area, Kielce is now a center of trade and commerce. [June 2009]

In the second half of the 19th century was the rapid development of Jewish settlement in Kielce with the kahal (Jewish community) in need a new place of burial. Previously, the few Jews buried their dead in the cemetery in nearby Chęcinach. In 1868, land was purchased at the Pakosz farm at the junction of today's streets: ulic Pakosz Dolny and Kusocińskiego, but at that time it was located outside the plot. Majer Balaban, who published "Historical Monuments of Jews in Poland" in 1929, wrote that Kielce Jews "bought a place for the cemetery away from the city and there hide their dead today." The first documented burial took place in 1670, managed by the Chevra Kadisha with Chesed Szel Emet, which covered the cost of a funeral of the poorest. Over time, the pre-burial mortuary house was built (tahara), a gravedigger hired, a caretaker dwelling built, fences erected, and a road arranged. The initially small area of the cemetery was enlarged in the 1920s. Up to WWII, Kielce had a significant Jewish population: in 1897, out of the total population of 23,200, Jews were 6,400 (~27%). On the eve of WWII, 24,000 Jews were in Kielce, about one-third of the population. In September 1939, action taken against the Jews by the Nazi occupiers included fines, confiscation of property, slave labor, and more. In April 1941, the ghetto was established. Many were forced to work at a nearby German ammunition plant. In August 1942, the extermination of the Jewish ghetto began. In five days, only 2,000 were left, only to be sent to another forced labor camp before going to the Treblinka. After the war some of the Jews came back to Kielce. On July 4, 1946 allegations of blood libel arose over 35 Jews murdered by the local Polish population. On July 8, 1946,  a burial ceremony was held in the cemetery for these 37 Kielce pogrom victims. Coffins were made for the bodies in the mass grave. Several thousand people including representatives of national and international Jewish organizations, political parties, army, and military companies attended the funeral ceremony. Public authorities included Minister Stanislaw Radkiewicz. A few archival photos were taken during the funeral. Jews gradually left the city. [June 2009]

CEMETERY: The cemetery is the burial place of many people who played a significant role in the life of Kielce like in 1915 Szmuel Chaim Horowitz, grandson of the great seer of Lublin, and two years later, Motel Twerski and Mordechaj Kuzmirera from the Chassidic dynasty in Chernobyl. Graves of tzaddikim attracted a number of pilgrimages. In 1931, the book called Home of Living by Moshe Menechema made an inventory of gravestones from the Jewish cemetery including information on eminent personalities. During WWII, the Nazis executed Jews in the cemetery and buried them and dead Jews from in Kielce ghetto in mass graves. Adam Helfand's memoir published in Eugene Fąfary book entitled The Jewish Population of Hell, tells that he was forced by the Nazis to collect corpses of murdered Jews from the streets during the liquidation of the ghetto. At the cemetery he had "to work at a feverish pitch at  large deep pits dug to dispose of the victims (....) Before the corpses were buried, we had to strip them naked, burn clothing after the Nazis searched for gold. Some of the other team members were forced, in terror and pain of deat,h to the collect gold teeth." After liberation, the remains were reburied in the Jewish cemetery in years 1945-1946 from various points of the city. The cemetery, devastated during occupation and abandoned cemetery fell into oblivion. In 1956, Social and Cultural Association of Jews in Poland, in a letter to the Bureau of the National Council of the City in Kielce cautioned: "The cemetery is held by the state. The wall was systematically demolished, many tombstones broken down and scattered, the tombs desecrated. Put a memorial to the victims of the pogrom with different subtitles. "In the same year, officials of the National Council of Kielce in a confidential letter to the Office for Religious Affairs reported that " cemetery in Kielce has been illegally occupied by the Work Cooperative 22 July", which takes coal, coke, slag, sand, clay from in the cemetery. From the morgue (.....) Cooperative Management Board did changes." In 1965 the cemetery was officially closed by the authorities. Ohels in which were buried Kuzmirera and his nephew Moshe Jehuda Lejb arranged as a bench. In the 1970s a second, terrible issue arose as kielece Communists at the behest of Warsaw defiled the Jewish cemetery by removing all other matzevot with the help of the nearby military unit. On Sundays, trucks removed gravestones in an unknown location. The money came from the defense budget for the state. Tombstones were probably treated as a material in the construction of foundations, stairs, walks in a ‘red willach baron [willach czerwonych baronów]. What changed this state of affairs was the Nissenbaum Family Foundation's effortsin the 1980s with native-born Kielce Jews abroad. The cemetery was restored. The remaining matzevot became a lapidarium. A rededication ceremony took place on August 23, 1987, the forty-fifth year anniversary of the liquidation of the ghetto in Kielce. A few hundred people, including representatives of the Catholic church with Bishop Henryk Muszyńskim, participated. Still later, in 2007, thanks to the efforts of Rabbi Lejb Surkis, the ohel of Kuzmirera was restored. The chapel building was refurbished and fenced, the tombs set inside, and informational sign mounted at the entrance. Today, several hundred matzevot and their fragments, used in the construction of the monument, are set in rows. A monument commemorating the children from the labor camp at ul. Jasnej i ul. Clear and ul. Stolarskiej destroyed in May 1943 contains the names of the victims and the inscription: "Here lie the sacred ashes of our greatest loss - 45 innocent children, murdered in a savage war by Germany on 23 May 1943, youngest 15 months to 15 years." Collective graves of victims of the pogrom were marked were a simple matzevot, with a Star of David and inscription in Hebrew and Polish: "Here lie the remains of 42 victims - Kielce on 4 July 1946, part of their memory." In the cemetery are many fragments of destroyed tombs. Mr. Irena Kowalczyk, who lives near the cemetery on ul Marmurowej 9, tel. 041 361 62 10, tel 041 361 62 10, holds the key to the cemetery gates. Photos. [May 2009]

Map and website of Kielce-Radom SIG. [January 2001]

Yizkor book for Kielce

REFERENCE: They Lived Among Us: Polish Judaica, a travel brochure: Arline Sachs, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

REFERENCE:: Gruber, Ruth Ellen. Jewish Heritage Travel A Guide to East-Central Europe. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1992. p. 50

US Commission No. POCE000274

Kielce is located in Kieleckie at 50°52 20°38, 176 km. from Warszawa. Cemetery location: Pakosz St. Present town population is over 100,000 with no Jews.

  • Town: Prezydent Miasta Vielce, 25-953 Kielce, Pl. Partyzantaw 1, tel. 42665.
  • Local: Wojewodzki Konserwator Zabytkow, ul. IX Wiekow Kielc, Kielce, tel. 45634.

Earliest known Jewish community was 1866. 1931 Jewish population was 18,083 (31.2%). The Jewish cemetery was established in 1867 with last Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform burial in 1946. Landmarked: (Register Wojewodzki Konservator Zabythei w. ?iecach /r. 10.1/). The isolated urban flat land has no sign, but has Jewish symbols on gate or wall. Reached by turning directly off a public road, access is open to all. Walls with locking gate surround. The size of the cemetery before WWII and now is 3.12 hectares. 100-500 gravestones, 25-50% toppled or broken, date from 1873-20th century. The marble, granite, limestone, and sandstone flat shaped stones or finely smoothed and inscribed stones, some with traces of painting on their surfaces, have Hebrew, Yiddish, and Polish inscriptions. The cemetery contains special memorial monuments to Holocaust and pogrom victims. There are marked mass graves. The municipality owns site used for Jewish cemetery only. Properties adjacent are recreational and residential. Frequently, organized Jewish groups and individual tours, private visitors, and local residents visit. The cemetery was vandalized during WWII, but not in the last ten years. Jewish groups within the country and abroad (Foundation "Rodzina Nissenbaums") did re-erection and patched stones, cleared vegetation, and fixed wall and gate in 1989-90. Authorities clean or clear occasionally. There are no structures. Security, pollution, and incompatible nearby development are moderate threats.

Dr. Adam Penkalla, ul. Gagarina 9/24, Radom, tel. 48 - 366 35 34, using his own documentation, completed survey and visited site. [date? 1990?]

Last Updated on Monday, 01 June 2009 20:40