Miechów – the Jewish cemetery

Borough of Miechów, Miechów District, Małopolskie Voivodship

Type of place

The Jewish cemetery.

Information about the crime

At least two unmarked graves of Holocaust victims are located in the area of Miechów. One of the places of mass burial of Holocaust victims is the Jewish cemetery in Miechów on Polna Street. Józef W., a resident of Miechów born in 1926 and a witness, provided us with information about the murder of several dozen people in the ghetto in Miechów:

“It was in February and they stopped me. I was walking to get lunch on a February afternoon. [A German] looked at my ausweis, saw that I worked here and said that he was taking me to work for two hours. Would you say that you wouldn’t go? […] We went to get Riedinger [Filip Riedinger – the chief of the Gestapo in Miechów]. There was a gardener who had been shot. Later we took him there [to the Jewish cemetery.] We went further, passed the secondary school, there was another shot man but I don’t know who he was. We took him and we entered the ghetto – and it was a butchery… […] The militia men, craftsmen, Jewish civil servants were all gathered in a yard. They were ordered to lie down and they were shot. The Gestapo men shot everyone, I saw that… […] Later two Gestapo men ordered us to search their pockets, take everything out and put it in a briefcase: watches, gold, money, whatever these poor people had. They filled two briefcases. There were around 40 Jews, craftsmen. I remember Gruszka, he was an electrician, an elderly Mr Gruszka, I remember him. […] If someone covered their head when they were shooting, they lost their fingers… And they also ordered [us] to undress the bodies and take them to the cemetery in their underwear. They are buried there. I ran away and could eat or sleep for a week! I couldn’t… To [treat] a man like that… It was a massacre! They were people!” (Miechów, June 2014.)

The Jewish cemetery in Miechów lies between Piłsudski Street and Powstańców 1863 Street. The common grave in which bodies of the people murdered in front of Józef’s eyes are buried is meant to be located about 15 metres from the Piłsudski Street, in the middle of the plot. Currently this is a private land and an arable field. Before the war it was cemetery’s reserve.

According to the documents kept by the Chief Commission for the Investigation of Hitlerite Crimes in Poland, the Jewish cemetery in Miechów was often the site of burial of the bodies of murdered Jews. In the second half of September 1942 Chaim Pinczowski (27 years old, student), Max Beller (48 years old, civil servant) and his wife Luba, 8 months pregnant at the time of death, were killed. The victims came from Miechów and their bodies were buried on the Jewish cemetery. Also in 1942 the military police from Miechów shot to death 32 people – men, women and children – for “going into hiding.” The victims were buried in one grave on the Jewish cemetery.

In January 1943 two murders of Jews took place in Miechów:

  • On 15 January the Gestapo and the criminal investigation police shot 20 people in the ghetto.
    Among the people killed on that day were: Abram Żaronowiecki, Liber Posłuszny, Dawid Szpigiel, Izrael Szpigiel, Samuel Szpigiel, Aron Szwajcer, Mojzesz Koplewicz, Icek Koplewicz, Hersz Grosfeld, Altman, Herszlewicz, Wolf Brener, Majer Majerczyk, Hendel Wolberg, Alter Rajnsztain, Chaim Ickowicz, Wolf Kajzer, Ber, Maksymilian Menasche (barrister), Izaak Szajnfrucht, Rafalowicz, Pinkus. The victims were Jewish militia men, members of the so-called Liquidation Corpus which operated in the ghetto as well as craftsmen.
  • In the second half of January on the prison yard in Miechów 30 Poles and Jews were shot to death. Among the victims there were: Izrael Lis, Ajzak Olmer, Sesek/Jesek Olmer, A. Apfelbaum, Jakub Perec Lejzorek, Herszel Sztajnic, Matys Friendenberg, Majlech Zieledrzewowo, Majer Lewit, Wolberg, Szmulker, Towje Cyglar, Judke Matuszyński, Pergierycht, Gertler, Gerszonowicz, Posłuszny and others. Most victims were Jewish militia men. They had spent several days in prison where they had been tortured. They were killed alongside several Polish prisoners.

The bodies of people murdered in both January executions were buried on the Jewish cemetery in Miechów.

 

Identification of the grave based on research

During the local visions carried out in 2014-2016 the approximate location of the mass grave located within the historical borders of the Jewish cemetery was possible to indicate. Currently, this part (southwest) of the cemetery is a farmland. The witness indicated the location with approximation to several meters (GPS: N50°20.919’E020°01.961′).
No GPR survey have been conducted.
The LIDAR survey indicate ground disturbance caused by cultivation field. Does not indicate changes that can be interpreted as the place of the mass grave.

Sources

Contact and cooperation

We are still looking for information on the identity of the victims and the location of Jewish graves in Miechów. If you know something more, write to us at the following address: fundacjazapomniane@gmail.com.

 

Bibliography

Recording of the Zapomniane Foundation (audio file), name: Józef [eyewitness], b. 1926, place of residence: Miechów, subject and keywords: Jewish graves in Miechów, interviewed by Agnieszka Nieradko, Miechów

IPN BU 2448/456, s. 1-5, Questionnaires of the Chief Commission for the Examination of German Crimes in Poland and the Regional Commission for the Examination of German Crimes in Warsaw collected in 1968-1972. Questionnaires regarding krakowskie province- VII. Miechów district: questionnaires.

IPN BU 2448/456, s. 1-9 Questionnaires the Chief Commission for the Examination of German Crimes in Poland and the Regional Commission for the Examination of German Crimes in Warsaw collected in 1968-1972. Questionnaires regarding krakowskie province- VII. Miechów district: questionnaires.

IPN BU 2448/457, Questionnaires of the Chief Commission for the Examination of German Crimes in Poland and the Regional Commission for the Examination of German Crimes in Warsaw, collected in 1968-1972. Questionnaires regarding krakowskie province- VII. Miechów district: questionnaires.

Note from 2 July 2013, “Żyd Szlomko”, Katarzyna Odrzywołek and Witold Jagocki from the Pedagogical University in Krakow.

Publication of the Ministry of Justice, Executions in the Krakow province during the occupation of 1939-1945, Warsaw 1975.

Newsletter of the Chief Commission for the Examination of German Crimes in Poland, volume IX, Wydawnictwo Prawnicze: Warsaw 1957.

IPN GK 163/9 Questionnaire. Executions. Graves. Krakowskie province; Volume II; Questionnaires about mass executions and mass graves – krakowskie province.

Photocopies of the investigation material ref. no. Ds. 26/68:

  • Report of the investigation Ds 26/68 against Władysław Olejak.
  • Report of the main hearing of 26 May 1948.
  • Excerpt from Philip Riedinger’s own testimonies of former German military policeman Olejak.

Photocopies of the investigation material reference number Ds. 1/69 against F. Schmidt, Kreishauptman’s deputy, suspected of carrying out numerous killings in the Miechów district, vol. I, p. 20-29, 73-76.

Letter from the Institute of National Remembrance, the Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation, the Regional Commission for the Examination of Crimes against the Polish Nation in Krakow to the Branch Office of Document Access and Archiving in Warsaw summary of the analysis of the files of investigations with file no. Ds 26/68 and Ds. 1/69.


Materials regarding Jewish war graves in Miechów (transcripts of witness testimonies, video and audio files with eyewitness accounts) were prepared thanks to funding from the association of Jewish Historical Institute as part of the project: “Jewish War Graves. Documentation.”