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Visiting Info
Opening Hours:

Sunday to Thursday: ‬09:00-17:00

Fridays and Holiday eves: ‬09:00-14:00

Yad Vashem is closed on Saturdays and all Jewish Holidays.

Entrance to the Holocaust History Museum is not permitted for children under the age of 10. Babies in strollers or carriers will not be permitted to enter.

Drive to Yad Vashem:
For more Visiting Information click here

The History of the Chełm Jewish Community

The historic city of Chełm, the provincial capital in the district of Lublin on the eastern border of Poland, had a large Jewish community with a vibrant Yiddish and Hebrew culture, Jewish education and a rich religious and political life.

During the Second World War the Germans conquered Chełm and murdered almost the entire Jewish community. Within less than four years, a community that had formerly numbered over 15,000 people was reduced to several dozen.  A few hundred other Jews had succeeded in fleeing in September 1939 when the Red Army retreated after the implementation of the Ribbentrop-Molotov agreements dividing Poland between the Soviet Union and Germany.

Today the city has no known Jewish residents.

The Fridling family in Chełm before the Holocaust

The Jewish Community of Chełm until the Second World War

The city of Chełm lies by the banks of the Ochrza River, a tributary of the Bug, in eastern Poland, not far from Lublin. It seems that as early as the beginning of the 13th century, when Chełm was still under Ukrainian rule, a Jewish community had already established itself within the city. During the 14th century Chełm became part of the Kingdom of Poland. During the 16th century, the city experienced major growth and developments, notably in commerce and transportation. At this time, the Jewish community of Chełm was one of the largest and most important Jewish communities in the Kingdom...
The synagogue in Chełm 

Jewish Society, Education, Culture and Religion in Chełm before the Holocaust

Chełm was home to a branch of the TOZ (Towarzystwo Ochrony Zdrowia - Society for Safeguarding the Health of the Jewish Population), an organization founded in Poland in 1921. Several volunteer doctors were active in the Chełm branch of TOZ – they supervised the nutrition of the Jewish school children and provided them with vaccines against contagious diseases. The TOZ branch in Chełm continued to operate until it was disbanded by the Nazis during the Holocaust. In addition Chełm had a number of traditional mutual aid charitable foundations.
The May Day rally in Chełm, 1930

Jewish Political Parties and Movements in Chełm before the Holocaust

Zionist activity in Chełm increased after the Balfour declaration, on 2 November 1917. A branch of the Zionist Histadrut Labor Union was established, and donations were collected for the Jewish National Fund and Keren Hayesod. The Zionist movements tried to convince the Jews of Chełm to send their children to Hebrew-speaking schools. 10 out of the 12 Jews elected to the city council were members of Zionist parties. The historian and Zionist activist Itzhak Shiffer was elected to the Sejm - the Polish parliament - as the representative for Chełm and its environs; Shiffer was later murdered in the Holocaust.
German armed forces in Chełm during the occupation

The German Occupation and the Establishment of the Ghetto in Chełm

At the beginning of September 1939, Chełm was occupied by Nazi Germany, but on 25 September, the Germans withdrew in advance of Soviet forces. The Ribbentrop-Molotov agreement stipulated that Chełm should be under German control, and on 9 October the city was ceded back to Nazi Germany. During their brief period in Chełm, the Soviet authorities established a civil government under a Jewish major, who was a Soviet sympathizer. Fearing reprisals from the Polish residents in Chełm, hundreds of Jews fled together with the retreating Red Army. Immediately following the German occupation, the...
The Destruction of the Chełm Jewish Community

The Destruction of the Chełm Jewish Community

On the eve of the Shavuot holiday, 21 May 1942, the first roundup of Jews in the Chełm ghetto took place. As a prelude to the roundup, the Germans had ordered the Judenrat to employ all able-bodied Jews in cleaning attics and cellars. This was intended to hinder Jews from hiding within the ghetto. During the two-day roundup, which lasted until 23 May, the Jewish Order Police collected some 3,000 Jews who were to be deported. The Jews were kept under guard in the shtiebel (prayer room) of the Belz Hassidim and the ghetto’s Beit Midrash (study hall), until the arrival...