Suwalki Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Podlaskie Voivodeship
Site address
The cemetery entrance is across the road from 29, Zarzecze Street.
GPS coordinates
54.09642, 22.91743
Perimeter length
817 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
Type and height of existing fence
There are different types of fence around the cemetery. There is a new masonry wall along Zarzecze street, 1.5-1.7m high; a damaged old stone wall in the woods along the northern border, 1.7-2m high; a concrete wall along the southern border, 1.7-2m high as well as a metal fence along the western border, 1.7-2m high.
Preservation condition
Fenced and protected Jewish cemetery
General site condition
The Jewish cemetery of Suwalki is located in a meadow, surrounded by private residential properties, an Eastern Orthodox cemetery, a small agricultural field and a football stadium. The cemetery is fenced. There is a main entrance and a path through the damaged stone wall fence from the side of the Orthodox cemetery. The area is well maintained, with no garbage, the grass is regularly mowed and there are no thick bushes. A few tombstones have been preserved in situ. However the majority of the tombstones (more than 300) are placed in 3 lapidarium.
Number of existing gravestones
Our field team has discovered 370 tombstones, however only 19 were in situ. Some intact tombstones lay on the ground and the majority of the tombstones (more than 300) are interred in three lapidarium. The first lapidarium (containing around 100 tombstones) is a concrete pedestal on the ground, in which pieces of tombstones are embedded. Two other wall lapidaries (containing around 200 tombstones) in the central part of the cemetery. The final burials in the cemetery took place in the 2010’s.
Date of oldest tombstone
1852 (by, 1882 (by ESJF)
Date of newest tombstone
2012 (by ESJF)
Urgency of erecting a fence
Land ownership
Preserved construction on site
Drone surveys

Historical overview

Jews first settled in Suwałki in 1802. In 1890, 12,540 Jews (60.9% of the total population) lived in the city, and 5,747 in 1921 (34%). At the start of World War II, some Jews from Suwałki managed to escape to territory occupied by the USSR. The rest were deported at the end of 1939 to Biała Podlaska and Kock and killed in the following years. After 1945, several Jewish families lived in Suwałki. The cemetery is located about 500 metres southwest of the market square, at Zarzecze Street, and covers a plot shaped like a rectangle, with an area of approximately 3.82 hectares. There are Muslim, Roman Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox, and Old Believers’ cemeteries in the vicinity. The cemetery was established around 1820. At the beginning of the 20th century there was a funeral house at the entrance. There were tombstones of various forms at the cemetery, including stelae, obelisks, and ohels. The cemetery began to decay during World War II. Some tombstones were used by the Germans to build a swimming pool and to pave the streets. In the 1950’s, the area was used as a horse market and for cattle grazing. Despite the degradation, there were still burials at the cemetery as of 2010 and 2012. In the 1980’s, at the initiative of Rabbi Dawid Lifszyc, the cemetery was fenced and cleaned up. Lapidaries were arranged using the preserved and recovered tombstones. A monument commemorating the rabbis from Suwałki was also funded. Within the cemetery, there are about 300 tombstones, including about 220 with legible inscriptions (the list is available at, in various states of preservation. There are mostly destroyed ones gathered in lapidaries. The cemetery is fenced, and the side entrance is always open. It is covered with grass and, in the central and eastern parts, there are rare pine trees. The owner of the cemetery is the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage. The facility is listed in the Register of Immovable Monuments of the Podlaskie Voivodeship.