All the world is one big Chelm."
- Isaac Bashevis Singer
Lublin | Opatow | Parczew | Piaski | Radzyn | Rejowiec | Sawin | Swierze | Szczebrzeszyn | Tomaszow | Tyszowce | Wlodawa | Zamosc | Zolkiewka
Chełm is located in southeast Poland and has a current population of 67,700.
The city is southeast of Lublin, north of Zamosc, and 25 km. from the border with Ukraine. The
first mention of Jews living in the city is in the 14th Century. The first Jews arrived in Chelm was
in 1205. By 1630 the Jewish population was 30% of the total city population. From 1648 to 1657,
there was a Cossack war of liberation from Poland called the Khmelnytsky Uprising,
during which 400 Chełm Jews -- approximately 75% of the population at the time -- were killed.
Most Jewish Ukrainian communities were devastated by the uprising and ensuing massacres.
The community had been revived by the beginning of the 18th century, when the Jews of Chełm
played an important part in the export trade. The Jewish community numbered 1,500 in 1765,
1,902 in 1827, 2,493 in 1857, 7,226 in 1897, 13,537 in 1931, and more than 15,000 in 1939.
The Jewish population in 1921 was 12,064 out of 23,221 total. By 1939, the Jewish population
rose to more than 15,000. Chełm was highly regarded as a center of Torah study in Europe.
The region of Chelm-Belz sent delegates to the Council of Four Lands in 1677, 1711, 1724, and 1762.
In some of those years it was the Chelm-Zamosc delegation. In 1880, a train line was established
between Brisk and Chelm, and later the line included Wlodawa. Among the business operations in
Chelm were: oil works, which belonged to Kalman Frydman; the tannery owned by Szlomo Szajer;
and two workshops manufacturing brass articles owned by Chil Uger and Pinkas Lew. Later on,
dentists Dwojra Lorber, Chana Birenbaum and Chaim Liszczyn had their own practices. There were
three pharmacies in town, run by Jakub Horowitz, Szloma Birenbaum and Berek Gutharc. Printing
houses were operated by Wajnsztajn, Josef Bronfeld and Erlich. Before the outbreak of WWI,
the community owned one synagogue, a house of prayer, six religious schools, two mikvot and a
cemetery. The kehilla financially supported the orphanage at 80 Lubelska Street and an old people's
home. An amateur Jewish theatre was active in the town. Newspapers in the town were the Unsere
Shtime, the Chelmer Folksblat weekly, and the Unser Tsukunft daily.
Houses of prayer (cheders) were operated by W. Berger at 6 Budowska Street; S. Glencer at 4 Budowska;
H. Moncarz at Podwalna; David Sobol at 53 Lubelska; B. Bibel at 11 Pokrowska; M. C. Oksman at
24 Pokrowska Street; P. Buksman at 11 Siedlecka; S. Grinberg at 19 Siedlecka; I. Lejber at 15 Siedlecka
L. Friedman at 26 Pocztowa Street; G. Hipszman at 22 Pocztowa Street; A. Nuclack at 7 Seminarska Street;
B. Goleman at 16 Pocztowa Street; K. Morgensztern at 14 Budowska Street; A. Ochman at 6 Seminarska;
B. Sznol at 28 Pocztowa; I. Recter at Pocztowa; A. Grinberg at 8 Pocztowa; M. Sztajnberg at 7 Seminarska;
J. Sznajderman at 7 Seminarska; S. Sznajderman at 28 Pocztowa Street; and A. Zak at Pocztowa Street.
In Chelm, a Talmud-Torah school was founded in 1922 and located at Mlodowskiej 15 and a Beit Yaakov
school for girls was also created. In 1915, a common school for Jewish children, led by Klara Morgenstern,
was created. It was located at Budowska 14 (now Narutowicza). There was also a Tarbut school.
Starting in 1918, the Jewish community had its own co-educational gymnasium at Budowska 9. The
leader of the school was Edward Fuhrman and other teachers were: Hersz Friedman-Reinbarz, Yaakov
Jakub Heiter, Maria Heiter-Oberfeld, Anna Hoffmann-Taaska, Kazimierz Jaworski, Gustaw Gerson
Mandelkiern, Klara Mandel-Corps, Moses Morgensztern, Debora Rottenstreich, Adam Sunderland,
Jakub Zinneman, Jakub Grynberg (secretary), and Doctor Yaakov Iwry. In 1919, the Chelm Library was
founded and located at Pijarska 5. In addition to collecting books and creating magazines, it also
organized cultural and educational events. In time it was moved to Lubelska 70.
The influential conservative religious party Agudas was founded in Chelm in 1931 by Anszel Biderman.
The Bund Workers Union was established in Chelm around 1917. Srul Frajd (carpenter) and his brother
Mordko, Moszko Szimel, Perec Szyfer, Bajla Traist, Majer Guss (Hus) and Chava Tuchman were
active in the local chapter of the Bund. The Tarbut Jewish Cultural and Educational Association, a
Zionist school organization, was based in Chelm on Narutowicza Street 14.
In 1934, the newly elected Town Council was composed of 20 Poles and 12 Jews. In 1936, in the Board
of the Jewish Community of Chelm had 5 Orthodox representatives: Judka Mendelson, Abram
Frydman (labourer), Anszel Biderman (real estate owner), Jankiel Korenblit (merchant) and
Szymon Sajkiewicz (merchant). Poale Zion-Left introduced three of its representatives to the Board:
Mordko Ela Goldman, Chaim Jankiel Bekier (upholsterer) and Berysz Akselrod (teacher). Local
Zionists were represented by Abram Aron Szajn, while the Revisionist Zionists by Szyja Tenenbaum.
Before World War II, the Jewish Merchants Association was operating in Chelm at Lubelska 47 and
was led by the notable Chelm industrialist Isaac Lederman. The Intellectual Club in Chelm met at
Bella Lewensztajn's house, Lubelska 8. The Jewish Social Club was located at Lubelska 70 in Chelm.
A branch of the Jewish Health Care Society (TOZ) in Chelm was located at 6 Sienkiewicza Street.
The Jewish charities Linas ha-Cedek and Committee for Helping the Poor existed. The charitable
organization Hachnasat Kala, which collected funds for wedding and dowries for poor Jewish bridesmaids,
operated at Uscilugskiej 13. The Hachnasat Orchim Organization, which was providing aid to traveling
Jews, was based at Mlodowska 15a. The charitable organization Gemilut Chesed also existed. The
Malbisz Arumim Association, which provided poor Jewish children with shoes and clothing, had its
headquarters in Chelm at Uscilugskiej 13. The Chelm Bikur Cholim Society supported the sick.
In 1916, at the initiative of I. Achtman, N. Goldfaden, J. Rozenblat and I. Zygielbojm, a Jewish dramatic
circle was established in Chelm. There was also a Jewish Students' Choir in Chelm, which was
especially supported by the Zionist organizations in the city. A chess club was established in 1914
by S. Eliasberg, Sz. Farber, M. Sekular, A. Dajzman, Ch. Cegelman and E. Erlich. In 1927, the Jewish
Gymnastic and Sports Association "Makabi" was established. There were sections for tennis,
gymnastics, and other athletics. It was located at Lubelska 50. The Jewish Sports Club "Jordan"
operated in Chelm between 1925 and the Holocaust. It included swimming and athletics sections.
The Chełm Ghetto was established in 1940 and lasted until November 15, 1942. It included
~11,000 Jews from Chełm and 2,000 from Slovakia. The street borders of the ghetto were:
Lwowska, Uscilugska, Wojslawicka, Partyzantow and Pocztowa. Nazis took over the city on Oct. 7, 1939
and immediately initiated a series of pogroms in which scores of Jews lost their lives. Included
in these massacres were executions of Jews at the cemetery. On Dec. 1, 1939, 1,800 Jewish
men from Chełm and nearby Hrubieszow between the ages of 15 and 60 were driven in a death
march to the Soviet-held town of Sokal. En route, 1,400 of the men were shot. Only 150 survived.
Judenrat members in Chelm county included Anshel Biderman, Mechel Frenkel, unknown Dreszer,
unknown Frajberger, unknown Kleinhaus, Dr. Maurycy, unknown Tenenboim, and Dr. Eliyahu Tisch.
On 31 May 1941, 1,800 Jews from Chelm were forced to work on road/railway construction projects,
in forestry labor, at a quarry, at a sawmill in Zawadowka, and for the military. Another 250 Jews
from Chelm were interned at labor camps, the majority at a camp established by the Inspectorate of
Water Regulation (Wasserwirtscharfsinspektion) in Kamien. In June 1941, 100 additional ghetto
residents became the first inmates of another Water Inspectorate camp, established in Chelm for
the purpose of reclaiming swampland. Another 1,440 Jews from Chelm performed forced labor each
day at a forced labor camp in Chelm, where they worked on land renewal. Some Jewish women
worked as domestic servants for German civilian and military authorities, while men worked on public
works projects, unloading coal at the railway station, removing gravestones from the Jewish cemetery
to use as pavement, and extending the municipal water system. In April 1942 -- after Aktion
Reinhardt was developed -- many able-bodied Chelm Jews marched to Wojslawice, Sawin, and
other places in the Chelm district for slave labor.
A vast network of labor camps were set up in and around the Chelm area. Jewish slave labor was used
at these locations, and few Jews survived the sadistic conditions of them. Among the labor camps
were: Bialopole Labor Camp, Busno Labor Camp, Kanie Labor Camp, Kulik Labor Camp, Liszno Labor
Camp, Rejowiec Labor Camp, Zawadowka Labor Camp, and a group of labor camps near Wlodawa
(Adampol, Hansk, Holeszow, Horodyszcze, Rossosz, Swidnik, Swierze, and Ulany). Additionally, many
Jews from Chelm were transferred to the Sobibor sub-camps of Dorohusk, Dorohucza, Kamien, Luta,
Nowosiolki, Ossowa, Ruda Opalin, Sajczyce, Sawin, Siedliszcze, Staw, Trawniki, Ujadzow, and Zmudz.
Those who did survive these camps were ultimately sent to the gas chambers at Sobibor.
Prof. Stanislaw Batawia of Poland says that the Chelm Lubelski Hospital patients -- including 128
women, 304 men, and 18 children -- were shot on the hospital grounds, and then mass-buried under
the eyes of the Polish hospital staff in Jan. 1940. The S.S. wanted the hospital for its quarters.
The Chelm Jewish community, until 1942, was working to support its destitute members in an
impossible situation. By late 1941, the Jewish community had established three community kitchens,
a medical clinic, and a 25-bed hospital for infectious diseases. After a typhus epidemic in November
of 1940, the medical staff in Chelm were caring for 6,828 impoverished community members.
In December, 1939, S.S. man Richard Nitsche of Wlodawa sent 50 Jews from that town as hostages to
Chelm -- where they were beaten up cruelly and the next day they were allowed to return. Additionally,
around 20 Jews from Rejowiec who were found in Izrael Werman's ice cellar were dispatched to Chelm,
including Motel Eisenberg with his family, Shimon Derlichman, Avraham Derlichman, Feyge and
Avraham Finkelstein, and others.
On April 11, 1942, a deportation of Jews from Chelm to Belzec took place. The 'transport watchers' knew
it took place because an empty train returned to Zamosc. The following day, 2,500 Jews were evacuated
from Zamosc to Belzec. After this, there was a lull in the evacuations for the rest of April -- probably
due to Belzec's limited reception during the reconstruction of gas chambers.
Another mass deportation from Chełm took place in May of 1942, and ~4,100 Jews (including
2,000 Slovakian Jews) were sent to the Sobibor death camp. On October 27, ~3,300 Jews were sent
on a forced march to Sobibor, some 50 km. north of Chełm. On November 6, 1942, around
10,000 Jews of Chełm were sent to Sobibor for extermination. Around 500 Jews were left in
Chelm at this point, and used for slave labor. Rabbis Gemaliel Hochman and Jehuda Zund Richl were
assassinated in early 1943. Hundreds of Jews were deported to Sobibor again in January and February
of 1943. Only a handful of Jewish workers were left in the city's prison; of these, 15 survived and were
liberated on July 22, 1944. Several Jews lived in Chełm until the 1950s.
The Nazis destroyed most Jewish buildings, including the synagogue located on the corner of Krzywa
and Szkolna Streets. A small synagogue in Chełm was built in 1912 from donations of the
Jewish population. In 2006 the synagogue was turned into a Polish bar called "McKenzie Saloon".
About 21 houses of prayer in the city were private. Most of them were situated on Adrjanowska,
Lubelska, Szkolna and Wesola Streets. The oldest house of prayer, owned by Fiszel Lowensztajn,
stood at 8 Adrjanowska Street and dated from 1852. In 1862 another prayer house that belonged
to Mr. Rajtman was established at 2 Siedlecka Street. In the 1880s new prayer houses owned
by the families Rozenter, Engel, Wajc, Horowic and Nuwendsztern were established.
The Nazi murderers also killed an estimated 30,000 Soviet Prisoners of War and Italian Prisoners
of War and buried them in the Borek woods, near Chelm. Josef Reznik, a Jewish soldier in the Polish
Army who had been incarcerated in Majdanek, was forced to bury these victims with 300 other Jews.
The Nazis in charge of the deportations and murders in Chelm were Hans Ansel, Hans Augustin,
Adelbert Benda, Hermann Benzler, unknown Berger, Artur Bernat (Bernard) from Silesia,
Bielisch (or Max Beulich), unknown Braunmiller, unknown Dietrich, Alfred Eggert, Kurt Engels,
unknown Fisher, Dr. Gerecht, Gerhard or Erhard Hager, Claus Harms, unknown Holtzheimer, unknown
Horn, Werner Kalmus, Stanislaw Koltun, Johannes Krauz or Kraus, Erich Langer, Karl Leistikow or
Leistiko, Rolf Mauer, Ludwig Pruckner, Hugo Raschendorfer, Adolf Reinert or Reiner, Emmanuel Schafer,
Schlesinger (Szlesinger), Konrad Schloegl, Erich Scholz, Selch, Eduard Shutt or Schmidt (Schmidt),
Bernhard Staszek (Staschek), unknown Steinert, unknown Stoffel, Rudolf Rudi Theimer, unknown Urban,
and Dr. Workman. Hermann Rohlfing was the chief of the death camp in Borek near Chelm during
1943-1944, was responsible for the murders of thousands of Chelm Jews. The Yizkor book mentions
Jewish collaborators Bochenski, Feldman, Pinkhassel, and the chief of Jewish police named Szwarcblat.
The Chelm cemetery is located at Kolejowa Street and dates back to the 17th Century. Fifty graves
are still visible at the cemetery and a memorial has been erected to memorialize the community.
In 1935, the caretakers of the cemetery included: Jakub Zalctreger, Abram Szerer, Lejb Lejzerowicz,
Bajla Nudel, Menacha Kupfersztok, and Stanislaw Hajczuk. Once a thriving Jewish city, today there
is no Jewish population or sign of Jewish life in Chełm.
Please review the site content below. Zachor - We Remember.
[History] [Surnames] [Notable Residents] [Wikipedia - Chełm] [Holocaust]
[Personal Accounts] [Yizkor Books] [Synagogues] [Education]
[USHMM Photos] [Unidentified Jews] [Chełm Photo Recovery Project]
[March of the Chelm Jews to Sokal]  [Martyr List (incomplete)] 
[Ghetto Uprising] [Pre-War Jewish Property List (incomplete)]
[Yizkor Translation Project ] [English Draft of Yizkor Book] [Donate!]
[Yahad-in-Unum Investigation in Staw near Chelm, 2011]
[Photos of Chelm Today] [Family Research in Southeast Poland]
[Chełmer Organization of Israel] [Chelm: Tracing the Lost Shtetl (in Hebrew)]
Click to subscribe to Chelm
Learn more at the Sobibor Remembrance Project
Pre-war views of Chelm.
The interior of the Chelm synagogue, before it was destroyed.
Anszel Biderman, the leader of the Chelm Jewish community. He was murdered in the Holocaust.
Two unidentified residents at the gravestone of Moshe Holcblat.
Jewish orchestra in the Russian Army, 1898. Includes David Rojter, from Rejowiec, a trumpet player.
Chelm elders, early 1900s.
murdered at Sobibor; Itzhok Cyberman (b: 1895), murdered at Sobibor. The family picture is him & his family.
Pre-war photo at Chelm Jewish cemetery, Szuchmacher family pictured.
A summer camp in Uhrusk where Chelm youngsters went.
A photo of Chełm survivors. 5th row, 2nd from the right is Leibl Rybajzen.
6th (top) row, 2nd from left is a child, Pola Engel Moncznik Munn. 4th row, 5th from the left
is Rajzla Rybajzen. 1st row, right side is Yakov Alster/Elster. Contact us if you can identify others in the image.
Chawa Trager in a slave labor camp, 1940, near Chelm.
Dugouts, which served as living quarters for prisoners in Stalag 319 -- a Nazi-built camp
for Soviet prisoners of war. Photo taken in Chelm, between 1941 and 1944..
Learn more about the Sobibor Survivors here.
Escapees from the Sobibor Death Camp, including several from Chelm.
Jewish partisans in Chelm: Abram Kohn, Itke (Ilana) Safran, Israel Trager.
Here lie the prisoners from Stalag 319B and the Jews from the ghetto in Chelm. About
three hundred people from the Chelm Ghetto are buried at this location.
Malkow, Poland -- the site where 50 Jews were buried on the march from Hrubieszow to Sokal.
Zbigniew Nizinski from The Lasting Memory Foundation is working to memorialize these victims.
Join the Chełm group on Facebook!
City of Chełm:
Article: A 60 Year Old Treasure is Found in Poland
Autograph Book from Haya Berger of Chelm (from Eli Morav)
Book: To Sobibor and Back: An Eyewitness Account
The Chassidic Route: Chelm
Chelm Yizkor Books Online (no English)
Chelm Yizkor Book Translation
Foundation for Preservation of Jewish Heritage: Chelm
Yizkor Book Memorials
Chelm Death March Victims - "Sefer Ha'Zvaot"
"Child of the Holocaust" by Jack Kuper
Tribute to Jews killed at the Chelm Death March
Yizkor Book Chelm #1
Yizkor Book Chelm #2
Yizkor Book Wojslawice near Chelm
Zydzi w Chelmie (Book, 2010)
There were two Chelm shuls on the lower east side of Manhattan:
Chelmer Erste Congregation, with 27 members; President, Baruch
Rosenbaum; Secretary, Gabriel Raiff; and Shomrei Ha-dath Anshei
Chelm, 22 members + cemetery. President Alter Saltz, born 1877.
List of Chelm Surnames Buried in NYC Plots
Mount Pleasant Cemetery (Duvernay, Quebec)
Families of Chełm:
More unidentified people
Majdan Tatarski Ghetto Victims (Lublin) from Chelm:
Estera Szajndla Bromberg
Sura Rywka Herszenhorn, nee Listinger
Sura Rywka Lerner
Moszko Josef Rozen
(source: Brama Grodzka - Teatr NN)
Rabbis of Chełm:
- Judah Aaron, 1522
- Szymeon Auerbach
- Elijah Ba'al Shem ben Judah Aaron, 1570-1583
- Samuel Eidels, 1606-1615
- Shlomo of Chelm
- Yitzhak Hochgelernter
- Shlomo Yehuda Lederer
- Hershel Jozefowicz
- Josef Mincer, 1890-1903
- Josef Kagan, 1910-1918
- Majer Najhaus (Meir Neuhaus), 1922-unknown
- Mosze Adamaszek
- Binem Dychtrart
- Gawriel Hochman
- Chaim Nuta Mandelbojm
- Yehuda Lejb Milner
- Israel Najhojz
- Gedalia Leiner
- Moshe Adamchyk
- Yehuda Mendelson
- Gemaliel Hochman
- Yakov Nisenbaum
- Piney Szaijdwajser
Survivors of Chełm:
Note: Additional survivors listed in Pinkas HaNitzolim II
and Chelm Jews Escape from the Borek Forest
Anna Bankierer Friedman
Felicia Berland Hyatt (testimony)
Wolf "William" Borenstein
Chava Cherniak Biber (testimony)
Bajla Czesner Szerer
Liba Czesner Rubinstein
Malka Czesner King
Bessie Drecksler Punsky
Rachel Ejber Birnbaum
Celia Feldman Bankirer
Esther Feldman Icikson
Saul Friszman (Fryszman)
Fajga Fruchter Zernitsky
Nella Gelberg Juffe
Fira Geller Silberbach
Sarah Geller Akerstein
Bernice Goldman Stemer
Sylvia Greenspan (video testimony)
Fajga Handelsman (went to Israel)
Ester Hertz (video testimony)
Szaja Sydney Herc (Hertz)
Tauba Herz Binstzock (went to El Salvador)
Hanka Kent (video testimony)
Miryam Krajzel (Krayzel)
Ester Rywka Libhaber
Tsivia Korenzyer Levy
Esther Ajzen Lewin
Josef Milner (went to El Salvador)
Icek Mitzflikier (Micflikier)
Moshe Mitzflicker (Micflikier)
Maria Ochlewska (born Estera Horn)
Sara "Sheila" Perec Bernard Etons
Chuma Rendler, aka Natalie Gonenn
Sonia Ribeizen Hurgin
Renata Sobel Reisfeld
Sara Rozen, aka Christine Damski
Josef Sierczuk (Serchuck)
Simcha Silberblech (Simon Silver)
May Szerman Kaplan
Henry Sztokfisz (Stockfish)
Lejba Szyf (went to Belgium)
Alter Benzion Terner
Israel Srulke Trager
Dr. Naum Wortman
Mimi Yurfest Kanner
Survivors of Rejowiec
Survivors of Sawin
Survivors of Siedliszcze:
Regina Feldman Zielinska (video testimony)
Zelda Kelberman Metz
Yehuda Idel Terner
Esther Terner Raab (video testimony)
Survivors of Wierzbica:
Survivors of Wojslawice:
Estera Dafner Tenenbaum
Szandla Fierman Wagenfeld
Rabbi Shlomo Hochler
Yitzchak Irving Raab (Rab)
Yakov Zisman (Sussman)
Notable Residents of Chelm:
Full Listing: Notable Residents
(Note: Full listing excludes those listed below.)
Rabbi Baruch Rabinowitz
Rabbi Yehuda Leib Rabinowitz
Professor Renata Reisfeld
Celia Zuckerberg Zylbercweig
Righteous Gentiles of Chelm:
- Jedlina Modesta Baranek
- Grzegorz Czyzyk
- Leon and Helena Palaszewski
- Wrona family
Jewish Records Indexing Poland - Chelm
Jewish Vital Records in the Polish State Archives
Remember Your Family:
The DNA Shoah Project: Connecting Descendants
Central Judaica Database - Museum of History of Polish Jews
Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors on Facebook
Guide to the YIVO Archives
Holocaust News/Events from Generations of the Shoah Int'l
Holocaust Survivors and Victims Database
JewishGen Family Finder
JewishGen Holocaust Database
JRI-Poland: Search for Your Family
Museum of History of Polish Jews Introduction
Yad Vashem: Search for Your Family
Yad Vashem: Submit Names of Your Family Members
Yad Vashem Requests Photos of Shoah Survivors and Families
ISRAEL: Shaun Waksman, email@example.com
Kish 42, Petah Tikva 49235 ISRAEL
Jewish - Chelm . org
U.S.: Aaron, LublinJewish@gmail.com