Grabowiec Old Jewish Cemetery
Grabowiec was initially a ducal town (and later a royal town) in the Bełz region in Ruthenia (and from 1462 belonged to the Crown) which was founded in 1394 under the Polish and the Ruthenian law. In 1447, its foundation status changed according to the Magdeburg Law. There were no objections among Christian inhabitants to the presence of non-Christians’ in the town. Jews did not receive separate privileges but were treated favorably by the Starosts. In 1630, 1,840 people lived in Grabowiec, including 20 Jews who lived in one house. In the first half of the 18th century, the Jewish community officially bought properties near the market square where the synagogue complex was eventually built. In 1865, Jews accounted for 958 people of the 1,998 inhabitants in Grabowiec (48% of the total population), which significantly increased to 1,721 Jews among 2,750 inhabitants in 1921 (63%). During World War II, the Germans destroyed all of the Jewish community’s buildings and facilities. In 1942, they deported Jews from the Grabowiec Ghetto to the death camp in Sobibór.
The first Jewish cemetery in Grabowiec was established in 1720 and is located approximately 600 metres south of the market square, on the northern slope of the hill of the Góry suburb. Later, it was gradually expanded (in around 1772) in the northwest part of the cemetery. There is no further information about the history and appearance of the cemetery. It was in use until 1900 as a new cemetery was established in 1891. During World War II, the cemetery was wrecked by the Germans, and the matzevot were used for construction purposes. After the War, all traces of the cemetery disappeared. Currently, it is part of a large meadow and the boundaries are unidentifiable. The older part of the cemetery can likely be inferred from the area morphology. There is an irregular, elongated pentagon-shaped area in the cemetery measuring approximately 0.4 hectares with traces of the former embankment and trench. In recent years, tombstones found in the city and its vicinity have been gathered in the building of the Regional Remembrance Chamber. So far, 29 matzevot have been found, including three from the old cemetery (the oldest one dates to 1812) made of sandstone.