CEMETERY WATCH November & December 2008
Ukrainian War Memorial Attacked
4 November 2008
According to reports, vandals damaged a memorial to victims of political repression during WWII at a Jewish cemetery in southwest Ukraine. The vandals moved the monument and damaged its fencing. Investigations are underway but no arrests have been made so far.
Read the original JTA article.
Jewish Cemetery Near Leeds, UK, Closed Because of Subsidence
5 November 2008
Gildersome’s Jewish cemetery has been declared dangerous by engineers and will be closed to visitors. Located on top of coalmines, the site is affected by subsidence. No further burials will take place in the cemetery, which is the final resting place of Rabbi Meir Palterovitch.
Read the original article in the Morley Observer.
Kristallnacht Memorial Unveiled in Liberec Jewish Cemetery, Czech Republic
10 November 2008
A memorial commemorating Holocaust victims was unveiled in the newly-restored Liberec Jewish cemetery in the Czech Republic. Taking place 70 years after Kristallnacht, the inauguration was attended by international guests and Czech Senate chairman Premysl Sobotka, who stressed the importance of remembering the past. The memorial, which is located inside the cemetery’s former ceremony hall, was financed by local and regional authorities as well as by private donors. Before Word War II, Liberec was home to some 1,600 Jews.
Read the full article in the Prague Monitor.
Two Jewish Cemeteries Desecrated in Germany
17 November 2008
Two Jewish cemeteries were desecrated in the former East German state of Thuringia. In Gotha, a pig’s head hanging on the cemetery’s gate was discovered by a passerby. The vandals also left a banner painted in red including the words ‘six million lies’. In Erfurt, red liquid was poured over a memorial plaque at the Jewish cemetery. German politicians condemned the desecrations.
Police searched the home of a 48 year-old suspect in Erfurt, who they said had a criminal record for similar hate offences.
According to recent reports, one Jewish cemetery per week – on average – has been vandalised in Germany this year.
More information on these desecrations can be found on the following websites:
Jewish Cemetery Exhibition Opens in Vienna, Austria
27 November 2008
An exhibition on Vienna Währinger and Hamburg Altona Jewish cemeteries was opened at the Währing district museum on 27 November. The inauguration of the exhibition, which will end on 25 January, was attended by prominent state and Jewish community representatives.
Both Hamburg Altona and Vienna Währinger cemeteries are similar in size, date from similar periods and are the final resting places of famous Jewish families. The German cemetery was recently restored and re-opened to the public, whereas its Austrian counterpart remains closed.
Visit the website of the Währing Bezirksmuseum for more information.
Desecration of Muslim and Jewish Graves in French Military Cemetery
9 December 2008
Some 500 graves of Muslim soldiers were covered with swastikas in the Notre-Dame-de-Lorette cemetery in northern France. An additional 20 Jewish gravestones were also desecrated. French President Nicolas Sarkozy condemned the crime as ‘abject and revolting’, ordering a quick investigation.
More information is available from the World Jewish Congress website.
Restoration of Gravestones at Offenbach Jewish Cemetery Completed
22 December 2008
26 gravestones have been restored at the Waldbach Jewish cemetery in the German city of Offenbach as part of a cultural heritage programme. Additionally, the municipal archives have documented all 280 graves located in the cemetery where burials took place between 1871 and the 1930s and which during World War II also became the final resting place of 72 forced labourers. On 21 December, the documentation was handed to Rabbi Benjamin David Soussan, regional rabbi of Baden, according to whom only very few members of the present-day Offenbach Jewish community have family ties with the deceased. The municipality provided 25,000 Euros for the restoration of the gravestones’ inscriptions, while the documentation was carried out on a voluntary basis.
Read the full article in German in the Badische Zeitung.
Austrian Green Party Highlights Government’s Failure to Protect and Preserve Jewish Cemeteries
31 December 2008
The Austrian Green Party has issued a press release highlighting the failure of the country’s government to protect and preserve Austria’s Jewish cemeteries, a commitment it made eight years ago by signing the Washington Agreement with the United States. The federal and regional governments in Austria have yet to reach a solution on how to finance care for the country’s Jewish cemeteries. The Green Party has introduced a bill to the national parliament that would establish a Jewish cemetery protection scheme similar to the one for war graves, which has been functioning effectively since 1947.
Read the full press release in German on the website of the Austrian Green Party.