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During my trip to Poland last summer I discovered a few areas that needed attention. There was the accidental uncovering of the Old Cemetery in Lodz and the excavations at the Chelmno Death Camp. A third place of interest was the discovery in Lubachow of a major mass grave of Holocaust victims. At that time I wrote about the findings and received a lot of mail asking about the current condition of the places in question.
Last week I had occasion to sit and talk with Chief Rabbi of Poland, Rabbi Michael Schudrich, and we discussed these and other issues regarding the Jewish community in Poland.
The exposed Old Jewish Cemetery in Lodz as it looked this past summer.
When I visited Chelmno with Chief Rabbi of Galicia, Rabbi Chaim Baruch Gluck, we discovered that there had been recent archaeological probing in the scope of the mass graves. While no large bones were found, we saw many exposed bone fragments lying on the ground, as well as large open pits. This situation at a Jewish cemetery is intolerable, against Jewish, and even, Polish law.
I asked Rabbi Schudrich what was being done there and he said that he had sent an engineer to the site and received a report from him, but work to preserve the site had to be put off until after the winter.
The archaeological digs in the area of the mass graves at Chelmno.
I am happy to report that at the Old Lodz Cemetery the situation has been rectified and all bones have been returned to the cemetery. The area was covered and a halachic solution was found regarding the tramway.
In Lubachow, which I visited with Rabbi Gluck in July, an agreement has been reached with the townspeople, as well as the local parish, as how to safeguard the site. Even though it is in the middle of an agricultural field, a line of trees will surround the mass grave, and a monument will be built to commemorate the victims.
Artist’s rendition of the site of a mass grave of Holocaust victims in Lubachow.
All the work was done with the help of Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi Of Poland, Rabbi Chaim Baruch Gluck, Chief Rabbi Of Galicia, the local Jewish communities, as well as local and national governments.