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. 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 perished. 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 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 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 1,200 Jews from Chelm performed forced labor each
day. Many of the 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 grave-
stones from the Jewish cemetery to use as pavement, and extending the municipal water system.
In April 1942 -- after Aktion Reinhard 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.
The first 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. Only a handful of workers were
left in the city's prison; of these, 15 survived and were liberated on July 22, 1944. Those who had left
for Russia in 1939 probably joined the army. 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.
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]
[Jewish Cemetery]  [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.
Chelm elders, early 1900s.
Unidentified Jewish girls from Chelm. Includes Bela Winnick Nihuz, left side.
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, circa 1950. Contact us if you can identify anyone 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
- 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
- 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
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
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 People of Chelm:
- Grzegorz Czyzyk
- Leon and Helena Palaszewski
- Jedlina Modesta Baranek
- 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
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Kish 42, Petah Tikva 49235 ISRAEL
Jewish - Chelm . org
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