Chmielnik is a town in Kielce County Poland. It has a population of 3,743 (2018), and lies in historic Lesser Poland. Before the Second World War, over 80% of the 12,000 inhabitants were Jews. After capturing the town in 1939 the Germans slowly discriminated against the Polish and Jewish population, which swelled during the war as Jews fled from other towns arrived at Chmielnik. Over several months Germans transported Jews to concentration camps, mainly Treblinka, where they were exterminated. The Germans also deported over 1,600 people for forced labor, and, still in Chmielnik, carried out executions of Poles and Jews from the town as well as from other places. The Polish resistance movement was active in the area, secret Polish teaching was organized.
Just after the war, only four Jewish residents residing in the town had survived. The remaining Holocaust survivors emigrated, mostly to Israel, Canada and the United States. There is renewed interest in Chmielnik’s Jewish heritage although no Jew has lived there for decades. The synagogue has been renovated and transformed into a museum to the memory of the Jews of the region.
Photo credit: MOs810, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons