Old Jewish Cemetery of Mielec
(Stary Cmentarz Żydowski w Mielcu, ul. Jadernych 39, Mielec, Poland – Link to Google Map)
The Old Jewish Cemetery of Mielec (Stary Cmentarz Żydowski w Mielcu) is on ul. Jadernych, a short walk from the old Mielec Synagogue and from the center of town (Rynek). The cemetery is currently maintained by a small group volunteers who are affiliated with the Muzeum Historii Fotografii “Jadernych” (History of Photography Museum “Jadernych”) which is across the street from the cemetery.
How to Visit
The cemetery gates are almost always locked. To visit the cemetery, go to the Muzeum Historii Fotografii “Jadernych” across the street and ask for the key. Please lock the gate when you leave and report any vandalism or trash to the museum staff. Donations to help maintain the cemetery can be made either on-site at the museum, or on this website via PayPal. Please indicate that funds are for the Old Jewish Cemetery of Mielec.
The Old Jewish Cemetery of Mielec dates back hundreds of years to the earliest Jewish residents of Mielec. It is not known exactly how many people are buried here but it is believed to be over 1000.
The cemetery was used up until the Shoah but at this point it was very full; new burials were more likely to be at the New Jewish Cemetery of Mielec on the outskirts of town on ul. Tragutta.
Soon after the German Army occupied Mielec in September 1939, they destroyed the cemetery and used the tombstones as paving stones in two locations:
- On the banks of the Wisłoka River in order to allow heavy vehicles to cross via barge (there was no bridge across the Wisłoka during WWII).
- In the center square (Rynek) of Mielec.
After 1945 very little is known of the state of the cemetery. According to researcher Krzysztof Bielawski, Shoah survivor Leib Sussel Feuer (chairman of the Jewish Religious Congregation in Mielec) raised funds to fence in the cemetery. It is unclear how long this fence lasted, however, as further notes indicate that the land was open and vacant. There was a letter written by the local government dated July 15, 1950 (see right) that states that the site was being considered for public use.
In the early 1960s it was decided to build a post office on part of the site of the Old Jewish Cemetery and leave the remainder untouched. Human remains were found while building the post office and were reenterred at the local Catholic parish cemetery. These included the remains of Rabbi Jacob Horowitz and his son Rabbi Yehuda Horowitz (these remains were again reenterred in a Jewish cemetery in Nowy Sącz many years later).
Starting in 1993, the cemetery began a restoration process that started with donations by Rachel Sussman (née Stroch) and the Blasbalg-Rubin family that resulted in a new locked gate and fence, a sign, and a large black marble obelisk memorial.
Upkeep of the Old Jewish Cemetery of Mielec has lately been taken over by local Polish volunteers led by Janusz Halisz and Beata Ślemp-Kwoka at the Muzeum Historii Fotografii “Jadernowka” which is across the street.
[historical information source: Krzysztof Bielawski, cmentarze-zydowskie.pl]
On the right is a sketch of the Old Jewish Cemetery, superimposed on a current Google Map.
Note that the cemetery used to be about 40% larger prior to the war. In the 1960s, the local Polish government built a large post office on the lower portion of the cemetery that remains to this day.
It is believed due to numerous sources and researchers that the original resting place of the two original Mielec rabbis: R. Jacob Horowitz and his son, R. Yehuda Horowitz, is under the south-west corner of the post office (in an ohel). Descendants of the Horowitz rabbinical dynasty are in discussions with the local government to find a way to relocate the post office and restore the original ohel.
There have been many efforts over the years to restore, catalog, and maintain the current tombstones that reside in the Old Jewish Cemetery in Mielec. The most comprehensive effort is being taken on by Prof. Leszek Hońdo at the Institute of Jewish Studies at Jagiellonian University in Kraków who agreed to write and publish a printed book catalog of all existing stones in cemetery, similar to other ones he has published before (e.g. Tarnów).
The full collection of photos were uploaded to the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) by Scott Genzer in 2018.
Meanwhile we have attempted to create pages that will take the place of this book here on this site. Please refer to the map above to understand the block locations relative to the cemetery.
Restoration and Recoveries
Summer 1994: Fragments from the River
The initial recovery effort began in the summer of 1994. Local Polish residents noticed some stones in the Wisłoka river during a particularly dry summer period. Working with only their hands and some ropes, they recovered approximately 62 tombstone fragments from the river and placed them back in the Old Jewish Cemetery of Mielec.
2018-2019: Fragments from the Rynek
While renovating the central square (Rynek), local construction workers discovered hundreds of fragments that had sunk below ground after the Shoah. All fragments were loaded onto wooden pallets and transferred to the Old Jewish Cemetery.
In 2019, Scott Genzer cleaned, catalogued, and set the fragments upon the ground in an orderly fashion. Kaddish was recited for these fragments as well as the others.
As part of the “Shtetl Mielec” exhibition at the Muzeum Historii Fotografii “Jadernowka” in November 2019, new signage was added to the Jadernych cemetery.
During the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, local Polish residents again noticed some stones in the Wisłoka river during another dry period. With face masks and their hands, they recovered two more tombstone fragments from the river and placed them back in the Old Jewish Cemetery of Mielec.