KNYSZYN: Podlaskie Print

Coat of arms of Knyszyn Alternate names: Knyszyn [Pol], Knyshin, Кнышин [Rus], Knishin, קנישין [Yid], Knisin, Kniszyn. Jewish population in 1900: 3,542. 53°19' N, 22°55' E, 16 miles NW of Białystok.

JOWBR burial list: Jewish Cemetery.

This town in NE Poland 16 miles NW of Bialystok is situated in the Podlaskie Voivodeship (since 1999) and was formerly in the Białystok Voivodeship (1975-1998). Gmina Knyszyn is an urban-rural administrative district in Mońki County, Podlaskie Voivodeship in NE Poland with villages and settlements of Chobotki, Czechowizna, Grądy, Guzy, Jaskra, Kalinówka Kościelna, Knyszyn-Cisówka, Knyszyn-Zamek, Lewonie, Nowiny Kasjerskie, Nowiny-Zdroje, Ogrodniki, Poniklica, Prostki, Stoczek, Wodziłówka, Wojtówce and Zofiówka. Formerly a part of Podlachia and for many centuries in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania as the property of Court Marshall of Lithuania Michael Glinski, the town was confiscated and passed to the Grand Chancellor of Lithuania Mikołaj Radziwiłł in 1507. In 1569,the Polish crown annexed it, then Prussia annexed it in 1795. In 1806, Russia annexed it until it was returned to Poland in 1919. From 1939-1941 the Soviet Union controlled the area, then the Nazis. Of Knyszyn's relatively sizeable Jewish population until WWII, only about fifty survived. ShtetLink: "3 acres (heavily wooded/vegetation; on ridges of old manor pools). Matzevot: +500 (300 counted; most with legible inscriptions). Bagnowka.com: Knyszyn Gallery (photographed in 1988, 2001-02, 2005). [October 2000 and May 2009]

Jews were first documented in the vicinity of Knyszyn in the 16th century with the oldest written mention being in October 1605 regarding 14 years of Jews living there. The townspeople, fearing competition from Jewish merchants in the 17th century, obtained a de non tolerandis Judaeis privilege that allowed Jews to settle in Knyszyn, but not trade. Not strictly observed, in 1679 Jews comprised 0.9% of the population. In 1719, an agreement was reached between the Church and the local Jewish community. In exchange paying taxes, the Jews received the privilege allowing Jews to settle in the city and trade. In the early 19th century, attempts to limit the presence of Jews in the city were withdrawn when burghers concluded that an exodus of Jewish merchants and craftsmen would adversely impact the economy. Gradually, the local Jewish community increased. Jew population: 1807-308; 1879-1,878; 1921-1,235. They owned the majority of shops and establishments and almost all houses in the market. Two synagogues, beit midrash, mikvah, rabbi's house, and cheder in ul. Szkolnej belonged to the Jewish community. Tomasz Wisniewski in Synagogues Białostocki wrote: "The oldest wooden temple located at ul. Tykockiej burned down in a city fire in 1915. In the vicinity of Szkolnej Street, Berka Joselewicz erected a new brick synagogue "Bejsa Jaszur", intended for poor Jews. The Germans damaged it during the last war; it was dismantled in 1950-55. On street behind the market,  a brick synagogue "Orach Chaim" was built in 1898-1900. Simple and  covered with a sheet metal roof, it was built in neoclassical style. The top was visible with façade with Moses and the Star of David. In 1934-1935, the synagogue was rebuilt. During the Second World War, the building was destroyed and then rebuilt. In the Soviet occupation, the cover-covered roof and all the details and ornaments disappeared. The building was used as a feed store. In 1982-1986 the former synagogue was finally dismantled." town website. Town Office, 39 Rynek, Knyszyn 19-120, pow. Moniecki, woj. Podlachia, tel: 48.857279971 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it As the favourite residence of King Sigismund II of Poland and the Polish court's main hunting site In the 1560s, the king maintained a royal stud farm with over 3000 horses in Knyszyn including large numbers of Arabian horses. After Sigmund II died here in 1572, the place rapidly fell into neglect. Few signs of the former royal residence and extensive studs remain aside from unmarked foundations. [May 2009]

CEMETERY:

Located by the river Jaskranką in the former royal ponds [sadzawek] is one of the largest Podlasie cemeteries near Bialystok, Krynek and Sokółki, actually two cemeteries - the "old" established before 1750 and the "new" established in 1930. Kahał books from 1786-97 record the cemetery. A description written by Michael Wroblewski and published in 2004 in Czasopisu says: "The Jews of the growing municipality Knyszyński need a place to bury their dead. They could count only on the ground, and this was the former royal pond, in the mid-seventeenth century. Initially on Groblach land used illegally, but [ignored], not until 1786 was it officially the Knyszyń cemetery. ... Jews received relative autonomy from their parent kahal in Tykociń. Over almost two hundred years of stone gravestones are in the forest, an amazing landscape created in Baroque symbolic scenery. Gravestone styles are very diverse, but traditionally facing east, doubled with reflections in the ponds and a background in the hill..." Between the old and the new Jewish cemetery sections is a mass grave of Jews murdered in the Holocaust. photos YouTube videos of cemetery: VIDEO 1 and VIDEO 2. photo and location.
[May 2009]

2007 description, directions, and photos""The Jewish cemetery of Knyszyn is actually situated on the ridges of what were 16th century royal pools of a Polish manor house. The area is pine forest with dense vegetation, muddy, humid with standing water in the pools, thus (seasonally) heavy with mosquitoes and ticks (Images 1, 4-6). It is easy to get lost in the labyrinth of ridges. Most of the matzevoth are in situ, though some are fallen and partially covered with earth or moss, and quite legible (Images 7-11). The inaccessibility of this sight is its preservation, as attempts to remove matzevoth (as did occur at other Jewish cemeteries during and after WWII), would require enormous efforts. The greatest threat to this cemetery is the vegetation and potential for matzevoth to sink into the swampy pools. Note: The visitor should take precautions against the bugs, especially the ticks, certain varieties of which in NE Poland are known to cause serious illness." [April 2009]

I have knowledge of two cemeteries in the area of Knishin (Knycszyn). One is a very small cemetery with about 20 gravestones located just on the outskirts of the village. It is very hard to locate. After much inquiry by a young Polish physician who took us there, we found it behind a wooded area in a meadow so obscurely located that we missed it when we first passed by. Most of the graves appear to be older. There was, however, one obviously more modern gravestone that bore the date in Arabic numerals, 1941. I could make inquiries from one of several people in Poland to determine a name, caretaker, etc. At this point, we have a few photographs and videotape that was sent to us by the Polish physicians who squired us about. The second cemetery is a much larger one containing about 700 graves. Our young Pole did not know of the existence of this cemetery at the time we were there and, consequently, we missed the opportunity to visit it. I do have a map and a list of about 75 names that were translated from the stones by a Polish historian. The name on the map is as follows: ROZWOJ TERYTORLALNY. CMENTARZA ZYDOWSKIEGO W KNYSZYNIE. Submitted by Jackie Ziff to JewishGen Digest. [01-05-2000]

burial list and gravestone photos [August 2014]

US Commission No. POCE000115   Map

  • Knyszyn is located in Bialostockie at 58°19 22°55, 28 km from Bialegostoki. Cemetery location: 1 km. westward from town at Stoczek colony at intersection of the roads to Poniklice and Chraboly. Present town population is 5,000-25,000 with no Jews.
  • Town: Urzad Miasta i Gminy w Knyszynie, ul. 1 Maja, tel. 4.
  • Local: Towarzystwo Przyjaciot Knyszyna, Dom Kultury, Ul 1 Maja
  • Regional: Wojewodzki Konserwator Zabytkow, Bialystok, Dojlidy Fabr. 4, tel. 41-23-32.
  • Interested: Cecylia Piasecka, ul. Starodworna 4, Knyszyn, tel. 226 lub 383 and Jozef Maroszek, ul. Narewska 2A/2, Bialystok, tel. 510-478.
  • Jewish cemetery caretaker: Towarzystwo Przyjaciol Knyszyna Jak. w dkt. 10.
  • Others: H. Wandali, c. Piasecka, (M. Miszkinski, C. Eker, I. Beker-Izrael i adresy i Rontakt, M. Flikier, Yehud, Hagetaot 7, Izrael).
  • Earliest known Jewish community was 1605. 1921 Jewish population was 1235. Effecting the Jewish community was the 1672 Privilege "de mon tolerandis Judacis". Living here were Rabbi Miszkinski and Rabbi Mosze Landinski. The Hasidic Orthodox, Conservative, and Progressive/Reform Jewish cemetery was established after 1750. There was a symbolic burial in 1970. Trzcianne, Korycin, and surrounding villages up to 20 km away used this site. Landmark documentation is in the archives of the Konserwator of Monuments. The isolated agricultural and forested flat land has no sign or marker. Reached by crossing private property, access is open with permission with no wall or gate. The size of the cemetery before WWII was 2.8 hectares; now it is 2.75 hectares. 500-5000 gravestones, 1-20 not in original locations with less than 25% toppled or broken, date from 1806-20th century. The marble, granite, limestone, sandstone, slate, and iron rough stones or boulders, flat shaped stones, finely smoothed and inscribed stones, flat stones with carved relief decoration, or double tombstones, have Hebrew and Polish inscriptions. Some tombstones have traces of painting on their surfaces, iron decorations or lettering, or other metallic elements. The cemetery contains special memorial monuments to Holocaust victims. There are marked and unmarked mass graves. The municipality and private individuals own property used for Jewish cemetery, agriculture, and waste dumping. Properties adjacent are agricultural and residential. The cemetery boundaries are smaller than before WWII due to agriculture. Occasionally, organized individual tour, private visitors, and local residents visit. The cemetery was vandalized during WWII, but not in the last ten years. Local non-Jewish residents, other individuals or groups of non-Jewish origin, and local authorities re-erected and cleaned stones and cleared vegetation in 1989-90. Occasionally individuals and authorities clear or clean. There are no structures. Vegetation is a moderate threat.
  • Tomasz Wisniewski, Bialystok, ul. Bema 95/99, tel. 212-46 Completed survey 11 Aug 1991. Wisniewski and J. Maroszek visited the site several times in 1989-90. Interviewed in 1989 were H. Wandali and C. Piastecka.
  • Note: In his book Jewish Bialystok on p. 81, Wisniewski states: "...one of the most unusual Jewish cemeteries in Europe. To visit this cemetery, proceed south from the market square in the direction of Chraboly. After you cross the bridge over the Haskrzanka River, you will pass the first intersection of field roads before a densely forested areas comes into view on your left. This is the site of the Jews cemetery; however, to reach it, you must follow the path leading to the left. ... several Jewish tomstones from the so-called "new Jewish cemetery," which opened around 1930. ... the well-preseved older cemetery, which was established in the second half of the 18th century on the town's abandoned yoral ponds and built by Piotr Chwalczewski, who served as Knyszyb;s sarosta...Today the cemetery is mainted by, among others, scouts from the local schools. ... the cemetery escaped destruction. ...the dams function as cemetery paths, defining the overall space. The oldest mazevas are concentrated in the western portion of the cemetery. [sic]" [October 2000]

Last Updated on Saturday, 23 August 2014 21:48