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It is unknown when the first Jews settled in Zwierzyniec. Andrzej Trzciński, in his book Śladami zabytków kultury żydowskiej na Lubelszczyźnie (By the footsteps of Jewish landmarks of the Lublin Region ), writes that at the end of the 16th century individual Jews held leases for the inn and the mill in Zwierzyniec. Progress in Jewish settlements in Zwierzyniec dates back to the XIX century. Originally, Jews from Zwierzyniec were dependent on the kehilla in Szczebrzeszyn, and in the time between the wars they created their own kehilla .

Right after Zwierzyniec became occupied by the Nazi army, local Jews underwent a series of repressions. For example, they were used for forced labor for road construction. It was obligatory to wear an arm band with the Star of David. Every day, they faced persecutions and force. Even the smallest infractions resulted in executions (at the Jewish cemetery or in the Borecki forest). The fulfillment of the annihilation plan began in the fall of 1942. Halina Matławska, in her study Zwierzyniec, describes those tragic days: "In October of 1942, as a part of the Operation Reinhard , the extermination of the Jewish people began. In Zwierzyniec, it took place on October 21 st . Jews were shot in their homes and in the streets; those who were not killed were rounded up into a marching column and walked off to the railroad station in Szczebrzeszyn. From there, the journey to the Belzec concentration camp began."
Zwierzyniec - cmentarz żydowski
Zwierzyniec - cmentarz żydowski Zwierzyniec - cmentarz żydowski
Matzevot at the Jewish cemetery in Zwierzyniec.
Photos from 1974. The Archive of the Jewish Historical Institute.

The Jewish cemetery in Zwierzyniec is located at Monopolowa Street - near railroad tracks and a stadium. It is known that establishing the cemetery faced many obstacles. A citation by the known historian Majer Bałaban, published in 1929 in a book entitled Zabytki Historyczne Żydów w Polsce (Judaica in Poland ) serves as proof. In a chapter devoted to cemeteries, Bałaban wrote: "The kehilla of Zwierzyniec near Zamosc has been, to this day, in an interesting situation. To purchase land there was impossible due to legislation. The land was either "ordynacki" (which was not to be sold) or "wloscianski" (which was not to be sold to Jews)".

The cemetery was a burial place for the Jews of Zwierzyniec, Rudka, and of other nearby towns. During the years of the Holocoust the cemetery was where Nazi executions of local Jews took place. Several tombstones remain to this day on this small piece of land. The matzevaot are monuments rectangular in a shape with an arched top and a depression for inscriptions. The upper parts of the headstones are embossed with symbols of candles or cupboards with books (this symbol appears on the gravestones of Pinkas son of Henoch, and Zaaw son of Jezechiel). Some matzevot still have traces of polychromy. The cemetery is surrounded by a wooden fence.

text: K. Bielawski
translation: Ania Yorinks

Zwierzyniec - cmentarz żydowski macewy na cmentarzu żydowskim w Zwierzyńcu kirkut w Zwierzyńcu
Zwierzyniec - macewa cmentarz żydowski w Zwierzyńcu Zwierzyniec - macewa
photos: Anna Harkot
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