Swidin Jewish Cemetery Vandalized Again
Half of the 20 tombstones in the Jewish cemetery of Swidin were broken March 1, according to Albert Stankowski of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Warsaw. “This was done during the same time as the Claims Conference was visiting in Poland, and I have no doubt that the act against the cemetery was related,” he said.
Stankowksi was referring to a Claims Conference meeting last week with the government about compensation for Jewish property stolen by the Nazis and Communists.
“The articles in the press gave readers the feeling that the Jews were coming to take their property away, and an Evangelical priest in the town thinks the people who did this to the cemetery were reacting to that,” he said.
It was the third time in five years that the cemetery was attacked. Last year, when three tombstones were damaged, Stankowski asked the regional prosecutor to investigate. “The prosecutor told us it was the wind that caused the problem. So I brought it to a higher prosecutor and the case was still under investigation when this destruction happened,” he said. “But I can tell you that the police have shown no interest in really investigating the case.”
“Do Not Be Afraid To Know Me”
An exhibition recapitulating an international project, “Do not be afraid to know me” is presented in the Opole town hall. The project was completed by the Opole OHP (Ochotnicze Hufce Pracy) Association in June 2006, in cooperation with the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland. The main goal of the project was to search for traces of Jewish culture in the Opolskie province. In the exhibition, there are photos of the surviving cemeteries and synagogues of the province, taken by participants of the project from Poland, the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Germany.
Relics of Jewish Culture in Opolskie Province, a folder produced with the cooperation of the Foundation, is another article on exhibit. The publication will soon be sent to libraries and museums of the Opolskie province. It can also be obtained from the International Committee of the Opole OHP Association. The European Union Youth Program, Action 1 – Youth for Europe financed the project.
We are pleased to inform you that the building of the pre-war Jewish religious school in Siemiatycze is regaining its previous splendor while serving the local community. The building was leased by the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland to a local association supporting education and labor market development (Stowarzyszenie Wspierania Edukacji i Rynku Pracy). The association has already renovated the front elevation and parts of the interior of the building, where, in September 2006, a trade school opened.
The Gdansk branch of the Union of Jewish Communities, together with the Heritage Foundation for Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries (with whom the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland completed a project to renovate the cemetery in Dubienka, Lubelskie province), is finishing the fence around the Jewish cemetery in Gdansk.
We are glad to announce the latest update to the website devoted to the Losice Jewish cemetery: www.zchor.org/losice/losice.htm – “We Remember Jewish Losice.” It is the testimony of Eddie Weinstein, and is one chapter taken from his book, Quenched Steel, The Story of an Escape from Treblinka (Yad Vashem, 2002). Also included is a tribute by Weinstein to colleagues and family members without whom, he acknowledges, he may not have survived.
The monument commemorating the Jews of Brzeziny (Lodzkie province) was vandalized. A racist graffito defaced the plaque devoted to the Holocaust’s victims. The Jewish cemetery in Brzeziny (Reymont Street) was probably established in the 16th century, and had been used until the Holocaust. It was devastated during World War II and the savagery continued even after the war, when a sand mine was located at the area of the burial grounds.
Witnesses claim the sand, mixed with human bones, was used to produce material to build prefabricated apartment houses. Many tombstones were stolen and used for construction works, e.g. paving banks of fishing ponds. In 1992, at the initiative of the descendants of Brzeziny’s Jews, the area of the cemetery was fenced. Sara Zyskind described the story of the townsfolk of Brzeziny shtetl in her book, Light in the Valley of Tears. Information gathered from http://www.kirkuty.xip.pl/brzeziny.htm.