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Sokolka District towns with Jewish population in Bialystok region in 1921: Buksztel, Kruhly, Jalowka Folward, Nietupa, Palestyna, Podsokolka, Wodokaczka. ShtetLink 2007 photos, description, directions: 53°25'N 23°30'E. Size: c.3 acres (suburban pine forest with varied vegetation). Number of matzevoth: c. 1000. Sokolka Gallery (photographed in 2003, 2004, 2006)/ The cemetery has a broken cobblestone wall on its eastern side, with a broken masonry wall near the intersection at Ul. Zamenhofa (Image 10). On entering at Ul. Zamenhofa, a rusted chain link fence bounds the western side with an opening to an industrial area (Image 4). Various worn paths run throughout this heavily overgrown cemetery, with varied vegetation (Images 1,5,6) . A four-sided tombstone literally stands beside Ul. Zamenhofa (Image 7). Hundreds of matzevoth are still extant, although many inscriptions are no longer legible (Images 1,7-9,11,12). The western side looks out over the city, literally down into a new subdivision (Image 13). The area is used for walking dogs and other recreation - a bonfire was burning unattended on this visit. The greatest threats are vegetation and natural wear to matzevoth, but more urgent are the dangers from the new housing development and recreation. [May 2009]

SOKOLKA:     US Commission No. POCE000125

Sokolka is located in the Bialegostoku region at 53º25' 23º30', 45 km from Bialegostoku. The cemetery is located at Zamenhofa St. in the NE [NW?] part of town [on a hill]. Present population is 5,000-25,000 [19,872 in 1993] with no Jews.

  • Town: Urzad Miasta, Plac Kosciuszki 1.
  • Regional: region Konserwator Zabytkow, Biatystok, Dojlidy Fabryczne 23, tel. 41-23-32.
  • Interested: Pizyjacior Sokolki, Museum Spoleczne, 1 Warynskiego, te. 11-20-18. Mosze Werbin, Kibuc Jakum 6972, Israel and Szmuel Bunim, Kibuc Miszmar Haneget 85315, Israel.

The earliest known Jewish community was second half of the 17th century. 1921 Jewish population was 2821. In 1698, King August II gave the Privilege to Jews. Rabbi Berko Srolewicz Frydberg and Rabbi Seuster lived here. The Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jewish cemetery was established in 1698 with the last burial about 1942. The community of Lak, Okoliczne Wsie, 15 km away, also used this cemetery. The isolated urban/suburban/ flat land, hillside and crown of a hill has a Polish sign that mentions the Jewish community. Reached by turning directly off a public road, access is open to all with a broken masonry wall without gate. The size before WWII was 2 hectare. It is now 1.7 hectare. 500-5,000 gravestones, 1-20 not in the original location with 25%-50% toppled or broken, date from 1806 or possibly 1751-20th century. Vegetation overgrowth is a constant problem, disturbing stones. Water drainage is a seasonal problem. The granite, limestone, sandstone, slate and concrete rough, flat shaped stones, finely smoothed and inscribed stones, double stones, sculpted monuments or multi-stone monuments have inscriptions in Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish and German. Some stones have traces of painting on their surfaces. There are no known mass graves. The municipality owns property used for Jewish cemetery, agriculture, and recreation. Adjacent properties are agricultural, residential, and a hospital. The boundaries are smaller due to new roads or highways, agriculture and vandalism during WWII. Frequently, private visitors and local residents stop. The cemetery was vandalized during WWII and occasionally since. There is no maintenance. Occasionally, authorities clear or clean. There are no structures. Security, weather erosion and vandalism are slight threats. Vegetation and incompatible nearby existing and planned development are moderate threats. Vegetation overgrowth is a constant problem disturbing stones; and water drainage a seasonal problem.

Tomasz Wisniewski, Bialystok ul. Berna 95 m 99, tel. 212-46 completed survey on 09/25/91 after visits in 1986, 1988 and 1990. Documentation with photographs was used.

NOTE: According to his 1998 book Jewish Bialystok, Wisniewski reports the Sokolka Jewish community was subject to the Grodno kahal until the end of the 18th century and that the Jewish population of the town never exceeded 50% of the population. The 1897 Jewish population was 2,848 or 37%. The pre-WWII Jewish population was 3,000. About 1,000 mazevot date from 1751. The Jewish farming community of PALESTYNA, one of three settled in 1850 near Sokolka by six Jewish farmers, probably used this cemetery. The other two colonies were KOLONIA IZAAKA near ODELSK, Belarus and KOLONIA CHANAAN. [October 2000]

UPDATE: Grzegorz Daszuta wrote that may have additional information. [February 2003]

UPDATE: Cemetery photos [January 2006]


Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 May 2009 09:59
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