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CEMETERY WATCH June - July 2009


Austria: Memorial Inaugurated in Innsbruck - Germany: New Cemetery Needed in Lübeck, Rüthen Cemetery to be Documented, Cemetery Vandalised - Poland: Several Cemeteries Cleaned, Prisoners Help Restore Cemeteries, New Jewish Heritage Website, Gravestones Returned in Lowicz - Spain: Medieval Cemetery Vandalised.

Clean-up Works at Jewish Cemeteries in Poland

31 July – The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODZ) has reported a number of cemetery clean-ups in Poland. In Bilgoraj, a group of volunteers cleaned the local Jewish cemetery. In Leczna, a group of homeless and unemployed carried out similar work in co-operation with FODZ. The Foundation also participated in clean-up work at the Jewish cemeteries in Dynow (in co-operation with a local sports club), Staszow (with the Jews of Staszow Landsmanshaft) and Wysokie Mazowieckie. Read the original articles.

Jewish Cemetery Vandalised in Germany

27 July 2009 – Three gravestones have been toppled in the Weimar Leibnizallee Jewish cemetery. The act of vandalism, which is believed to have taken place in mid-July, went unnoticed for several weeks. The police have launched an investigation. Read the original article (in German).

Lübeck Jewish Community Needs New Cemetery

22 July – The Lübeck Jewish Community needs a new cemetery to bury its deceased members. Established in 1650, the cemetery currently used by the community contains more than 800 graves. Although free areas remain at the site, an unusually high level of groundwater renders the cemetery inappropriate for future burials. According to the Lübeck city hall, negotiations are underway with the Jewish community to prepare a 5000 square metre area of the municipal Vorweker Cemetery for use as a Jewish burial ground. Read the original article (in German).

Medieval Jewish Cemetery Vandalised in Extremadura

22 July – Vandals have destroyed and stolen markers indicating the site of a medieval Jewish cemetery in the city of Plasencia in the Spanish region of Extremadura. Being part of a Jewish heritage route, the cemetery was equipped with markers in spring. The regional government has partially replaced the markers and intends to improve security at the site. Read the original article (in Spanish)

Vegetation Overgrowth at Worms Jewish Cemetery

21 July – Following the complaint by a member of the Worms city council regarding vegetation overgrowth at one of the city’s Jewish cemeteries, the municipal cemetery agency has agreed to clean the burial ground within a week’s time. Established in 1900, the cemetery is located in the Heppenheim borough of Worms and contains 18 graves; the last burial took place in 1935. Although all five Jewish cemeteries in Worms receive care, the 11th-century Heiliger Sand cemetery in the city centre is a major tourist attraction and is tended to more regularly than Jewish cemeteries elsewhere in the city. Read the original article (in German).

Memorial Inaugurated at Medieval Jewish Cemetery in Innsbruck

17 July – Austrian Chief Rabbi Paul Chaim Eisenberg has inaugurated a memorial at the site of a medieval Jewish cemetery in the Austrian city of Innsbruck. Thanks to the memorial, consisting of steel plates along the former enclosure, the 16th-century cemetery is once again visible as such. It used to serve local Jews as a burial ground until 1864, when a new Jewish cemetery was established in the Tyrolean city. Representatives of both regional authorities and the Catholic Church attended the event, which according to the local Jewish community was the result of efforts undertaken by former Tyrolean bishop Reinhold Stecher. Read the original article (in German).

Rüthen Jewish Cemetery to be Documented

14 July 2009 – Following the clean-up of the Rüthen Jewish Cemetery in Germany by local residents, Nathanja Hüttenmeister of the Duisburg Steinheim Institute for German-Jewish History will research and document the cemetery’s gravestones, some of which date back to the 17th century. The results of her research will be presented locally on 5 November, commemorating the 1938 pogroms. Read the original article (in German).

Restoration of Vandalised Graves in Lower Saxony Jewish Cemetery

7 July 2009 – The Federation of Jewish Communities in the German region of Lower Saxony is restoring vandalised graves in the Wolfenbüttel Jewish cemetery. As part of the project, documentation about Jewish life in the region will be exhibited in the building of the city’s former synagogue starting 19 September. The municipality is providing funding for both the restoration and the documentation. Read the original article (in German).

Road Marker Stolen Near Rawa Mazowiecka Jewish Cemetery

7 July – Shortly after being erected by the municipality, a road marker indicating the presence of the local Jewish cemetery was stolen in the Polish town of Rawa Mazowiecka. The incident has been reported to the police. Read the original article

International Cemetery Project Makes Use of New Polish Website

28 June – Slated for opening in 2011, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews has launched an online platform for the collection of information on Poland’s pre-Holocaust Jewish communities. Based on technology allowing users to interact and exchange information, the ‘Virtual Shtetl’ website currently features information on 800 of the more than 2000 Jewish towns and villages that existed in Poland prior to the Holocaust. Thanks to the website, young Israelis are currently translating gravestone inscriptions from cemeteries that have been cleaned and photographed by Polish youth. Read the original article. To visit the ‘Virtual Shtetl’, click here

New Book on Jewish Cemeteries in Bucovina

26 June – Swiss diplomat Simon Geissbühler has published a book on Jewish cemeteries in Bucovina. Currently posted in Bucharest, the author visited, documented and photographed nine cemeteries in Romania and six in Ukraine. ‘Jewish Cemeteries in Bucovina’ is available in Romanian, English, French, German and Ukrainian from Bucharest publisher Noi Media.  

Polish Prisoners to Restore Jewish Heritage Sites

23 June – The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODZ) and the Polish government have signed a co-operation agreement under which inmates of 85 Polish prisons will help restore Jewish heritage sites throughout the country. The programme, which is partially funded with European Union money, also contains educational components on Jewish history in Poland. The restoration of Jewish cemeteries will be carried out under the supervision of the Polish Rabbinical Commission on Cemeteries, which is headed by Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich. As one of the first projects to take place under the new agreement, FODZ and the Głubczyce prison are preparing the clean-up of the Głubczyce Jewish cemetery by inmates beginning in spring 2010. Read the original articles by FODZ and the Jerusalem Post.

Jewish Cemetery Vandalised in Gdańsk

18 June – A plaque next to the gate of the newly-renovated Jewish cemetery in Gdańsk-Chelm has been vandalised with anti-Semitic graffiti. The incident has been reported to the local police. Read the original article.

Gravestones Returned to Lowicz Jewish Cemetery

18 June – Gravestones found during recent road construction in the Polish town of Lowicz have been returned to the local Jewish cemetery. Read the original article.

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Complete cemetery survey: 200€
Cleaning of vegetation: 500€
Identifying marker: 500€ 
Construction of a gate: 1,000€
District-wide surveys: 2000€ 
Metal memorial: 2,500€
Demarcation & fencing: 5,000€
Region-wide surveys: 10,000€