Cholera Cemetery and New Jewish Cemetery of Mielec

Aerial photograph from 1942 showing the location of the Jadernych (left) and Kolejowej cemeteries (right)

NOTE: Information shown on this page is sourced primarily from documents stored at the Polish State Archives (Branch Archiwum Akt Nowych w Warsawie, Zespol 15, Sygn. 704).

Extensive research using these and other sources has been carried out by Krzysztof Bielawski, Andrzej Krempa, and Stanislaw Wanatowicz and presented here with permission and gratitude.


Overview

The “Cholera Cemetery and New Jewish Cemetery” was formerly located on ul. Kolejowej in Mielec. It was used first to quickly bury victims of the cholera epidemic of 1873, and used again decades later between December 1930 and August 1938 for all burials after the Old Jewish Cemetery was full. There were 213 burials from the cholera epidemic, and 232 burials in the 1930s – 445 total.

How to Visit

You cannot visit this cemetery as it no longer exists. A Polish hospital is currently in its place.

History

Part 1: The Cholera Epidemic of 1873

This is an excerpt from an article written by historian Andrzej Krempa describing the history of the burials due to to the cholera epidemic of 1873 in Mielec:

"The cholera epidemic erupted in Mielec at the beginning of 1873. The first two victims of the epidemic of the Jewish community were buried on January 3 (Joseph Gross and Miriam Esther Gross)*. In January, 108 people of Jewish nationality were buried, in February 22 people, in March 8 people for cholera and 2 people for typhus. In the next two months, the epidemic has already waned, in April there were only 8 burials, including 6 for typhus, while in May and June there were no fatal cases. In July, 6 people who died of typhoid and one person for cholera were buried in the cemetery. Unfortunately, in August 1873, there was a recurrence of the epidemic, 46 people died, including 6 people suffering from typhus. September was the last month of the burials of the Jews who died for cholera - 13 people were buried then. The last person buried in the cemetery was Shprintze Kanner, who died of typhoid in October. All 213 people were buried in one grave, without tombstones, a mound was built. On the preserved maps of Mielec from 1887, the cemetery is marked as "a trench"."

Andrzej’s full article can be viewed in PDF here (in Polish), and via English translation here.

Click here to open a Google Sheet containing all the names and dates of those buried in this cemetery.

* Archiwum Akt Nowych w Warszawie (dalej: AAN), Zespół 2/15/0, Ministerstwo Opieki Społecznej w Warszawie, syg. 704, Zamknięcie cmentarza Żydowskiego w Mielcu. Odwołania, obwieszczenia, plan sytuacyjny terenu, wyciągi z metryk zmarłych. Opinia sanitarna.

Part 2: Burials from 1930 to 1938

Decades after the cemetery at ul. Kolejowa was used for the cholera epidemic, it became necessary to use it again for all Jewish burials due to lack of available space in the Old Jewish Cemetery on ul. Jadernych. The first burial was on December 4, 1930 of a baby, Chiel Freidman, who died at age 3 months. The burials continued without interruption until August 1938 when the Polish Army decided that the land on and around the New Jewish Cemetery on ul. Kolejowa was needed for military purposes.

Click here to open a Google Sheet containing all the names and dates of those buried in this cemetery.

Part 3: Legal Battles from August 1938 to March 1939

The forced acquisition of land for military purposes was legal at the time, and in cases where cemeteries needed, the law provided funds to exhume and relocate the burials. Unfortunately this is not allowed under Jewish Law. Hence in August 1938 the Jewish leaders in Mielec fought the military in order to preserve the integrity of the burials at ul. Kolejowa. Fortunately for historians, this back-and-forth struggle between the Jewish leaders, the military, and the local Polish leaders is fully documented and shows the dynamics and power struggles at play.

** NOTE – links to high-res scans of each document are below each paragraph. **

Source: Archiwum Akt Nowych w Warsawie, Zespoł 15 (Ministerstwo Opieki Społecznej), Sygnatura 704 (Zamknięcie cmentarza żydowskiego w Mielcu. Odwołania, obwieszczenia, plan sytuacyjny terenu, wyciągi z metryk zmarłych. Opinia sanitarna).

Scans obtained in June 2021 by Scott Genzer via funds donated to Mielec Yidn. If you wish to donate to support these effors, please click the DONATE button on the top of this page. Thank you!

August 26, 1938

Kraków V Corps Informs Mielec Governor of Cemetery Expropriation

Major Konarski, Head of Construction of the 5th Corps based in Kraków, informs the Provincial Governor of Mielec (Starosta) that the land occupied by the New Jewish Cemetery, and much of the land around it, will be expropriated by the military “for the purposes of State Defense”.



August 26, 1938
August 27, 1938

Lt. Governor Golkowski Informs Jewish Council

B. Golkowski, Lt. Governor of the Mielec Province, writes a letter to the Council of Jewish Leaders of Mielec, informing them of Major Konarski’s orders and their legal right appeal within 14 days.


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August 27, 1938
August 30, 1938

Jewish Council Acknowledges Receipt

R’Chaim Hermele, President of the Jewish Counsel, acknowledges receipt of Lt. Governor Golkowski’s letter on behalf of the Council.
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August 30, 1938
September 1, 1938

Jewish Council Send Telegram to Kraków Governor

R’Chaim Hermele sends an urgent telegram to the Regional Governor (‘Voivode‘) in Kraków, asking for assistance.
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September 1, 1938
September 5, 1938

Unidentified Letter

[short handwritten note – unable to decipher]
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September 5, 1938
September 6, 1938

Lt. Governor Golkowski Writes Kraków Governor

Lt. Governor Golkowski sends a confidential letter to the Regional Governor in Kraków, refuting arguments made by the Jewish Leaders that this was a sudden decision, stating that the Jewish community could bury people in Rzochów, and that there is still room in the Old Cemetery for burials. Of note he does not address the exhumation issue.
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September 6, 1938
September 8, 1938

Jewish Council Sends Formal Appeal

R’Chaim Hermele, President of the Jewish Council of Mielec, submits a four-page formal appeal of the expropriation of the New Jewish Cemetery on ul. Kolejowa to the Provincial Governor of Mielec and to the Regional Governor in Kraków, informing both that the Jewish community objects on both religious (i.e. exhumation is against Jewish Law) and legal grounds. He attaches eight pages of names of those buried in the cemetery in 1873, and two more pages of children buried between 1930 and 1938.
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September 8, 1938
September 12, 1938

Mielec Mayor Bows Out of Dispute

Mielec Mayor Franciszek Kazan, on behalf of the Mielec City Council, writes a letter to the Provincial Governor, informing him that they could not come to an agreement with the Jewish Council of Mielec on where to place a new cemetery. As a result, the Mayor tells the Governor that the City Council “renounces its culpability” in the matter.

September 12, 1938
September 16, 1938

Military HQ in Warsaw Comes to Mielec

Engineer Torún, Head of Army Construction Department in Warsaw, writes the Provincial Governor of Mielec, informing him that he is convening a meeting in Mielec on September 22, 1938 to resolve the dispute. In attendance will be representatives from the Military Police, Aviation Supply Mgmt., Army V Corps District Command in Kraków, Mielec Airport Manager, Mielec Provincial Governor, Mielec City Council, and the Jewish Council of Mielec. After the meeting he will go out to the site itself.

September 16, 1938
September 23, 1938

Provincial Governor Reports No Progress to Kraków

Mielec Provincial Governor Z. Schlichting himself writes a letter to the Regional Governor’s office in Kraków, stating that there were factual errors in R’Hermele’s letter (saying there were 232 burials total, not 232 plus 40 children), and that a potential compromise has been struck where the tombstones would be removed but the bodies would not be exhumed. Furthermore he states that a new site for Jewish burials would be identified by November 1, 1938.

September 23, 1938
September 24, 1938

Jewish Council Writes Ministry in Warsaw

The Jewish Council of Mielec writes the Ministry of Military Affairs in Warsaw, explaining that although it supports the Polish nation and is willing to sacrifice both lives and property for its existence, it is neither possible nor permissible to exhume the bodies from the cemetery – both on religious grounds and as a potential health risk (due to fear of contamination from the bodies who died of cholera or typhoid). The letter offers the military all the land owned by the Jewish community not currently occupied by burials, and also offers to build a park where the burials reside with trees and with an “aesthetic appearance”. It further states that the Jewish community will not bury any other persons there.

September 24, 1938
October 1, 1938

Regional Health Office in Kraków Weighs In

Dr. Karol Hessek, Head of the Regional Health Office in Kraków, sends a letter stating his opinion on whether or not the exhumation of bodies buried in 1873 present a health risk.

October 1, 1938
October 3, 1938

Regional Governor Shares Confidential Testimony with Kraków

Provincial Governor Z. Schlichting writes a confidential letter to the Regional Governor’s office in Kraków, stating that he received sworn testimony from a Mr. Wojciech Gawryś, a Catholic man who works in the cemetery and paid by the Jewish Community in Mielec, stating that although there have been no further burials since August 26, 1938, there have been approximately 30 tombstones placed on existing graves since that date [as is normal with Jewish burials].

October 3, 1938

Maps and Aerial Photos

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Burials

Original Images

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Cholera Epidemic of 1873 – Mass Grave

Adult Burials 1930 thru 1938

Child Burials 1930 thru 1938

Block Maps

These block maps were created as a “best guess” of the arrangements of the burials based on their plot #s.

Parcel / Block 1

Parcel / Block 2

Parcel / Block 3