Wałdowo KrólewskieBorough of Dąbrowa Chełmińska , Bydgoski District, Kujawsko - Pomorskie Voivodship
Type of placeA forest
Information about the crime
In the spring of 2021, we visited Wałdowo Królewskie for the first time. We returned there several times to determine the location of the grave of two Jewish women murdered during the march of Jewish prisoners from KL Stutthof to one of the labor camps near Toruń or during the evacuation in the last months of the war. A local tourist guide informed the Foundation about the existence of the grave. Thanks to him, we were able to contact people who knew the history of the grave from their family members. Most likely, the history of this grave is connected to the women’s labor camp in Chorab, commemorated in 2017, although the location of the graves of the victims of this camp is still unknown. There is extensive literature on the history of the camp in Chorab. Here is an account of how the camp is remembered by the inhabitants we met.
“We spoke to a woman in Horab. There is a house near this monument [commemorating the victims of the camp]. This woman did not witness these events, but her aunt lived in this house. She moved into this house after the war. She said: Sir, we call this forest the bones [kości]. Those are her words. There are bones here. There are unexplored areas around, but the camp is commemorated, because it is known where it was located. […] She said they cooked potatoes for them and passed them over the fence. Because there was indeed barbed wire on the border of the camp. When the Latvians weren’t looking or were somewhere else, the Polish women from this farm gave them potatoes. And these girls, because they were young girls, ate everything. They were beautiful, from good families of intellectuals. It was the flower of intelligence. They were sent to Sztutowo from various regions:Hungary, Estonia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, probably even Finland. Poland of course, Russia too. [The female prisoners] worked on behalf of the Baukommando Thorn, it was the Todt organization, which took orders from the Wehrmacht, camps and the SS. It was a deal, colloquially speaking. The Todt organization needed people to work, so women prisoners who were able to work were brought here, to Bocień and Chorab, from the camp in Sztutowo. They came by train. The station was here in Górsk, just across the road, you’ll see it, there’s a house next to it. Some of the prisoners left the train earlier, near Chełmża, and walked through the forests to the facility in Chorab. There was the largest camp there. Prisoners dug trenches. There is a large fortification here called przysiecki rampart [wał przysiecki]. This is a huge anti-tank bulwark that stretches for several kilometers from Przysiek. (June 17, 2021)
On June 17, 2021, we went with our guide to the forest in the Forest Inspectorate in Toruń. “These prisoners, mainly Jewish women, were led through the forests. Some of them died on the way because they were weak. Some were shot when they tried to escape into the forest. I hope that I will find this grave when we go to Wałdowo. But we know there’s a grave there. Someone buried two people there. I heard that there was even a fenced garden until the 1970s. From time to time, the local people put candles there. Then after the ’70s, ’80s, it has been forgotten”. (June 7, 2021)
In the fall of 2021, we visited a resident of Dąbrowa Chełmińska, born in 1955:
“Once we were walking through this forest and my mother said: Look, here are the graves of two Jewish women who were murdered. Although I don’t know for sure whether they were killed or died during the march. A group of Jewish women was walking from Ostromecko, probably in the direction of Toruń. I still remember those two graves. Some local must have piled these mounds to commemorate the place. There were two separate graves.
- So, you were born in 1955 and you went there with your mother. When was that?
- Early 1960s”. (October 7, 2021)
The place of the grave was marked with a wooden matzevah in 2022 as part of the project “Reference points – marking 25 Jewish war graves with wooden matzevot”. The project is an attempt to find a way of marking these places before they can be commemorated. Marking forgotten Jewish war graves with wooden matzevot is a subtle intervention in the landscape reminding about what remains invisible, yet present in the memory of local communities. Being only a temporary commemoration, wooden matzevot invite local communities to discuss and take action, to discover the places, and perhaps to start their own memory practice related to them or to initiate a permanent commemoration.
You can read more about the project here: https://tinyurl.com/2p9ar52f
The project was implemented thanks to the funding from The Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland (Stowarzyszenie Żydowski Instytut Historyczny) and The Matzevah Foundation.
IDENTIFICATION OF THE GRAVE BASED ON NON INVASIVE RESEARCH
On October 27, 2022, a site inspection was carried out in the presence of a witness (2nd generation) to indicate the location of the mass grave of 2 victims. This place is located in a wooded area, right next to the road leading from west to east, at the intersection of forest paths marked with the post number 2/172 (approximate GPS coordinates: N 53°08.567′ E 018°15.424′).
Near the place where the victims were buried there are two trees. A small mound was piled in the place of the grave.
The LiDAR survey is not helpful in this case.
Aerial photography query for this area wasn’t ordered.
Contact and cooperation
We are still looking for information on the identity of the victims and the location of Jewish graves in Wałdowo Królewskie. If you know something more, write to us at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recording of the Zapomniane Foundation (audio file), name: Arnold, resident of Dąbrowa Chełmińska, subject and keywords: Jewish grave in Wałdowo Królewskie, interviewed by: Agnieszka Nieradko and Andrzej Jankowski, October 7, 2021
Recording of the Zapomniane Foundation (audio file), name: Marcin L., subject and keywords: Jewish grave in Wałdowo Królewskie, labor camp for Jewish women in Chorab, interviewed by: Agnieszka Nieradko and Andrzej Jankowski, June 17, 2021
Sylwia Grochowina Toruński Holokaust: Losy żydówek z podobozu KL Stutthof o nazwie Baukommando Weichsel (ot Thorn) w świetle relacji i wspomnień ocalałych ofiar i świadków, Toruń, 2016
We have collected the materials about this village thanks to the funding provided by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance as part of the project “The rural Holocaust. Collecting and safeguarding the never recorded testimonies 100 forgotten Jewish graves 2021-2022”. The materials for this website were developed, digitized and made available as part of the project “Development of a digital archive of Jewish war graves outside the extermination camps and educational use of archive resources” thanks to funding from the Minister of Culture and National Heritage from the Cultural Promotion Fund.