Ciechanow Old Jewish Cemetery
The second, old Jewish cemetery in Ciechanów was established in 1771 in an area donated by the town. In 1784, the Ordinary of Płock issued a privilege allowing Jews to use the cemetery, and the first burials took place there in 1797. The cemetery covered an area of approximately 0.92 hectares. Due to the risk of overcrowding, from 1822, the community tried to buy neighbouring plots of land. In 1846, the tsarist edict came into force, ordering the relocation of cemeteries outside the town for sanitary reasons. This coincided with the community’s efforts to obtain new land, but as a result of several unsuccessful transactions, the land for a new cemetery was not purchased until 1873.
Burials in the old cemetery took place until at least 1875 when Tzaddik Abraham Landau was buried there. An ohel was erected over his grave. In 1940, the Jews secretly exhumed the remains of the tzadik and moved them to the new cemetery at Pułtuska Street. After the destruction of the Jewish quarter, the Germans also completely destroyed the cemetery. Using the Jews for forced labour, they dismantled the fence and leveled the area by over 2 metres, preparing the area for new buildings. The tombstones were used to build a sidewalk at 17 Stycznia Street. In 1939, while leveling the area, the Germans found the burial site of the Torah and some holy books, which were then burned by their orders. Four Jews were hanged in the courtyard of the castle who attempted to save the books. After the war, there was no trace of the cemetery. Currently, there are single-family houses in the area of the cemetery.
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.