Ciechanow New Jewish Cemetery
The third, new Jewish cemetery in Ciechanów was established to the east of the town, in the area of the Aleksandrówka neighborhood. The area, which is rectangular shape with dimensions of 150 x 25 fathoms, was purchased in 1873. Later, the cemetery was expanded (to the south) following the purchase of land from Wojciechowski and Żbikowski, after which it covered a total area of approximately 2.25 hectares. The first burials likely took place there in the 1880s. Regular funerals took place until November 1942. During World War II, the cemetery was also used as a place for numerous executions and burials of bodies from mass murders in the town. Non-Jews, whose bodies were exhumed in 1945, were also buried there. In 1942, the Germans devastated the cemetery, dismantled the fence, and removed the tombstones.
The remains of the historic borders are rows of trees. In 1947, Jews from Ciechanów who survived the Holocaust established the Jewish Religious Association and tried to clean up the cemetery. On the grave of Sara Altus (exhumed from the murder site) and in the northern corner of the cemetery, they placed symbolic monuments in the shape of stepped pyramids, made of several matzevot recovered from the town. In 1949, they made an agreement for supervision of the area with a caretaker, which was in force until the 1980s (when the caretaker was evicted). In 1962, at the initiative of the Landsmanshaft of Ciechanów in Paris, the monument was rebuilt in the form of a mausoleum surrounded by a metal and brick fence. There is an inscription on the monument which reads the following: “Here, the ashes of Jews murdered by the Nazi occupiers in Ciechanów rest. Honor their memory!”
The cemetery is not fenced. It is surrounded by a housing estate of detached houses and the area is used as a square, a football pitch, and a place for walking dogs. In 2015, information boards were placed on the premises. In 2015–2016, the Rabbinical Commission carried out GPR research to confirm the location of the mass grave from 1942 and to specify the boundaries of the cemetery. In April 2019, a storm knocked down some trees and slightly damaged the fence of the monument. The matzevot recovered from the town are kept in the storehouse of the local museum.
The first mention of Ciechanów comes from the 11th century. A Jewish presence in the town was first mentioned in documents from 1507, though its likely that Jews lived there earlier. In 1567, 11 Jews paid taxes in the town. In the mid-18th century, the Ciechanów kehilla (organized Jewish community) was established after the 17th-century wars and was one of the largest in northern Mazovia. The Jewish communities of Maków, Mława, and Płońsk belonged to Ciechanów kehilla. After the town was incorporated into Prussia in 1797, the rights of the community were limited only to religious matters. In 1790, 240 Jews lived in the town. In 1808, the Jews of Ciechanów were the third-largest Jewish community in the region and constituted 85.6% (1,194 people) of the town’s total population. In 1857, the community numbered 2,241 people (67.1% of the total population). In 1829, Raw Abraham Ciechanower (Abraham Landau), recognized as one of the most outstanding Polish rabbis, became the rabbi of the town. His successors were: Seidenfeld, Mordechaj Motel, Abram Icchak Jehuda Trunk and the great-grandson of Ciechanower – Samuel Izaak Landau.
During World War I, the Jews of Ciechanów helped their coreligionists who had been displaced from Przasnysz and welcomed them into the town. In 1939, Jews constituted about 40% of the population (4,650 people). Following a large influx of Catholic people to the town from nearby villages, the Jewish population decreased. During World War II, Ciechanów became the capital of the district. The occupiers tried to Germanize the town by demolishing the Jewish district to build new “German” buildings. The work was carried out by Jews. A ghetto was established in the town. There were many public executions and in 1941, about 1,200 people were transported to Nowe Miasto. Jews from Dobrzyń, Raciąż, Żuromin, and Sierpc were relocated to Ciechanów. On November 6, 1942, about 1,500 people were deported to Upper Silesia for forced labour. Some of them (at least 68 people; other sources say about 200) were murdered on the spot. The rest were transported to the Mława Ghetto.