Tomaszow Mazowiecki Jewish Cemetery
Tomaszów was founded in 1830. Jewish residents began to settle there between the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. A kehilla was established in 1831. Between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, the kehilla facilities included a synagogue, temple, mikveh, cheder, shtiebel, kosher abattoir, and a hospital. In 1921, there were 10,070 Jewish residents, comprising 36% of the total population. In 1939, the number increased to 13,000. In December 1940, the German forces established a ghetto, where they gathered 16,500 people (including from Łódź, Płock and Warsaw). In 1941, some of the Jewish residents were transported to labor camps in Bliżyn by Skarżysko-Kamienna and Pionek. In 1941, around 15,000 Jewish residents were transported to the death camp at Treblinka. In May and September 1943, the remaining residents were transported to Starachowice.
The cemetery is located on an L-shaped plot between General Stefana “Grota” Roweckiego, Ugaj, Poprzeczna and Smutna Streets. To the north it faces the Roman-Catholic cemetery. The entrance gate is located by the General Stefana “Grota” Roweckiego Street. An informational plaque is on the stone wall beside the entrance. A main path leads directly from the entrance. Rows of tombstones are placed perpendicular to it. Further distinctions are unclear and the majority of the area is now overgrown.
The cemetery was founded in 1831 on a plot given to the Jewish community by the Duke Antoni Ostrowski. Earlier Jewish residents from Tomaszów were buried at the cemetery in Inowłódz. Due to the efforts of the then kehilla leader Dawid Halpern, the area was fenced, a caravan was purchased, and cemetery regulations were implemented. At that time, Rabbi Lejke Zilber organised a chevra kadisha.
The cemetery is the burial site of, among others: Szlamo Załmen Blanket, member of the January Uprising; Dawid Bornsztajn, merchant; Abram Jakubowicz, member of the Bund and local government official; Henryk Kamiński, poet and journalist; Chaim Kantorowicz, political and labor activist; Aleksander Landsberg, industrialist and social activist; Bolesław Szeps, industrialist, social activist, the first president of the Judenrat; Pinkus Sznycer, doctor, veteran of the January Uprising; Dawid Warzager, veteran of the January Uprising, painter, art coordinator of the great synagogue in Tomaszów Mazowiecki; Salomon Wasserman, finance expert, founder and director of the local People’s Bank; Jakub Eliasz Wieliczkier son of Abraham, tzadik, Rabbi of Tomaszów, leader of the religious court.
During the Second World War, the cemetery was the site of numerous executions. The victims were buried in mass graves. It was also the resting place of the victims who died or were killed in the ghetto. Additionally, it was the burial site of twenty-one victims killed during “Operation Purim,” which took place on March 21st, 1943.
The Germans used some of the matzevot for construction in the city. Some of them were later returned to the cemetery, such as those recovered from a courtyard of a property on Mościckiego Street in 1999.
The last person to be buried at the Tomaszów Mazowiecki cemetery was Stanisław Talman, who died in 1983. In 2002, the exhumed remains of several dozen victims killed by a group of Polish residents on the night of January 18th 1943 in the Czółno woods near the village of Lubochnia were buried in a mass grave at the cemetery. There is also a memorial commemorating the death of the 15,000 Jewish residents of Tomaszów killed by Nazis in Treblinka in November 1942, erected in 1947 on the fifth anniversary of the liquidation of the Tomaszów ghetto, and a memorial for the twenty-one Jewish residents killed by Nazis during “Operation Purim” on March 21st 1943. In the 21st century, the building that once was the funerary parlor house was demolished.
Today there are approx. 2000 tombstones preserved, with the oldest dating back to 1843 on the 2.9 hectares plot. The remaining tombstones vary in appearance: traditional matzevot, monuments, obelisks and stelae. The level of preservation varies; some are knocked over or cracked. Due to the efforts of Beniamin Yaari-Wald, an inventory was carried out on the remaining tombstones between 1995 and 1999. A full list as well as the history of the cemetery was published in Israel in the book Jewish Cemetery in Tomaszów Mazowiecki.
In 1989, the cemetery was added to the Register of Historical Landmarks under the designation 410.