Siedlce New Jewish Cemetery
The new Jewish cemetery in Siedlce is located to the west of the city and was likely established by 1807, although the official documents for the purchase of land for the cemetery date to 1926. From 1869 to 1939, the cemetery was gradually enlarged. Currently, it covers an area of approximately 3 hectares and is shaped like an irregular polygon. The oldest found tombstone dates to 1855, although pre-war sources mention a matzevah from 1827. The latest burials took place in 1988. There is also a mass grave of Jews murdered in the 1906 pogrom in the cemetery. During World War II, the cemetery was used for carrying out executions and mass murders. It is estimated that in 18 graves (5 and 10 metres long) dating from 1942 to 1943, there are approximately 3,000 Jews. The cemetery also contains the remains of Jews from Radom who died during the transportation and 39 Jewish soldiers of the Red Army, killed by the Germans in a POW camp. In 1944, to erase traces of their crimes, the Nazi occupiers dug up mass graves and started burning the bodies.
After the war, the area of the cemetery was largely devastated. The tombstones were used for building roads and curbs, while some were smashed on the spot. After the war, bodies of Jews who were buried in various parts of the city and its vicinity were exhumed and reburied in the cemetery. In 1946, at the initiative of the Jewish Committee, a monument commemorating the victims was erected in the cemetery. During the period of the People’s Republic of Poland, the area remained abandoned and continued to fall into disrepair until the 1980s. There was a pasture in the eastern part of the cemetery. Restoration work was carried out in the cemetery in 1987–1989. As a result, the brick fence was restored, and the area was cleaned up. In February 2009, a plaque commemorating the Jews of Siedlce, funded by the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage and the Jewish Community in Warsaw, was placed at the gate of the cemetery. About 1,000 tombstones have survived in the cemetery. In recent years, the process of returning recovered individual matzevot from the city to the cemetery has also been ongoing.
The first records of the city of Siedlce date back to 1448, although settlement in the area already began by the 9th and 10th centuries. Siedlce was granted town rights in 1547 around which time the first Jews settled there. In the 17th and 18th centuries, during which time Siedlce was under the rule of the Czartoryski and Ogiński families, the town underwent significant economic development. An independent Jewish community existed in the town as early as the 17th century. In 1756, 631 Jews lived in the town, and 3,072 in 1820, constituting 70% of the total population. For a long time, the city was an important centre in the sociocultural life of the Podlasie Jews. During World War I, invaders attacked the Jewish population, and several dozen Jews were killed.
In 1918, Jews constituted 54.7% of the population (16,820 people), and 36.1% in 1931 (14,793 people). During World War II, the Germans burned down the synagogue. They created an open ghetto in 1940, and a closed ghetto in August 1941. In addition to the Jews of Siedlce, Jews from Kalisz and nearby towns, as well as a group of Roma, were relocated to the ghetto. The ghetto was liquidated in August 1942. The Jews were then gathered in the old Jewish cemetery, where approximately 2,000 Jews were shot, and over 15,000 people were transported to the Treblinka II extermination camp. Until November 28, 1942, there was a residual ghetto and a forced labour camp in the city.