During the construction work carried out in the city of Radom workers found a number of richly polychromatic (multi-colored) matzevot (tombstones) beneath the ground. This is the first time in many years that such a large number of tombstones, with perfectly preserved colors, was found in Poland.
At the time of the mass deportations in August 1942 hundreds of Jews fled to the forests to organize guerrilla units. These units were comprised mostly of persons who escaped from Radom. All the partisans fell in battle with the Germans. Many who escaped from Radom reached Warsaw and took part in the Warsaw Uprising (August 1944).
On the whole Radom District’s 380,000 Jews lost their lives during the German occupation, according to figures of the Radom Regional Commission to investigate Nazi Crimes. A few hundred Jews settled in Radom for a short time after World War II, but soon left due to the hostility of the Polish population.
Polychrome (multi-colored) matzevot
The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland immediately took action to protect the historic tombstones. In cooperation with the local branch of the Monument Conservators Office, and the building workers, the Foundation will assure that the matzevot will be given proper treatment and be transported to the Jewish cemetery in Radom.
To date, The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland saved 80 matzevot taken by the Nazis, from the Jewish cemetery in Radom, 60 years ago. The matzevot were discovered during road construction. The Foundation had received an anonymous phone call that, “Jewish stones” had been found. The Foundation sent its representative immediately, who contacted the site manager, and the information proved to be correct. We immediately notified the city’s Antiquities Authority, which arranged the conservation of the matzevot. The finding is very important because the tombstones are painted – a rare occurrence – in recovered matzevot.
Monika Krawczyk, the Foundation’s CEO said, “We get more and more information every year that matzevot, used by the Germans, are being found. In most cases we manage to save them. However it happens also that the workers prefer to take them for scrap. We believe they are important for Polish and Jewish culture and testify to the high quality of Jewish art. Discovered stones may be also important for Jewish genealogists or survivors of Radom.”
Matzevot discovered during roadwork in Radom
The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland has posted many pictures of the find on the Polish Jewish Heritage website, www.polin.org.pl, where photographs of the polychromatic matzevot were just uploaded. The POLIN web portal has over 5,700 pictures and nearly 60 short films, of great interest, from over 300 Polish localities.
Radom is a city in Kielce Province, Poland. Jewish residence in the city was banned in 1633, 1724, and 1746; a few Jews settled in the suburbs and numbered 67 by 1765. They were later permitted to reside in a special quarter. The settlement began to develop after 1814, and an organized community was formed; a cemetery was established in 1831 and the first synagogue built in 1884.
Before World War I and during the period between the two World Wars Jews played a considerable role in the development of commerce and industry in Radom, both as entrepreneurs and employed workers. Jewish organizations in 1925 included a merchants and artisans bank and trade unions; there were numerous welfare institutions, including the hospital, founded in 1847, and an old age home, founded in 1913.
Religious and secular educational and cultural needs were met by yeshivot, the first of which was founded in 1908, the Talmud Torah, and prayer houses for the chassidic community, as well as schools of various types, including a high school, and five libraries. Periodicals published in Radom during the interwar period were the “Yiddish Daily Radomer Tzeitung,” until 1925; the weekly “Radomer Lebn,” later “Radomer-Keltser Lebn” then, the “Radomer Shtime;” and the Trybuna (in Polish).
At the beginning of the 19th century, for the first time, the community had its own rabbi. Ensuing rabbis of note were Samuel Mohilewer and Simchah Treistman (1904-13), later rabbi of Lodz.
In 1939 over 30,000 Jews, comprising 30% of the total population, lived in Radom. During the German occupation it was the capital of the Radom District in the General Government.
Shmuel Ben Eliezer