Residents of a small Polish village that was once the home to a vibrant Jewish community have been digging up the graves of their former neighbors in a quest for buried gold, according to an Israeli Holocaust commemoration NGO.
Jonny Daniels, the executive director of From The Depths, said he had received several calls from residents of the Polish town of Głowaczów, reporting that graves had been dug up.
“As a foundation working on the ground in Eastern Europe, we often heard the stories of locals ‘digging for gold’ in the Jewish cemeteries, we even had mayors of cities ask us if the rumor that Jews were buried with their gold was true,” he said.
“After the third call received on our ‘Matzeva [headstone] Hotline’ giving us information of locals digging in the Jewish cemetery of Głowaczów, Poland, we decided to go see for ourselves, and found something that shocked me to my core, we saw the bases of tombstones overturned and even a spade left underneath.
“This horrific disregard for a place of Jewish burial is something that we plan to deal with strongly, [as] in Poland there are laws protecting sites of religious importance with jail sentences of up to seven years for desecrating such sites.
“If the local municipality isn’t able to help protect the final [resting] places of our loved ones, we will demand the Polish government do so,” he threatened.
The organization distributed a video shot in the Polish woods showing the site of the old cemetery, with a shovel stuck in the ground next to a pit.
“More needs to be done by local authorities, by the Polish government, to make sure that scenes like this cannot happen,” he said in the video.
In 2011, American-Polish historian Jan Gross published a book titled Golden Harvest in which he asserted that Poles had dug for gold on the sites of death camps following World War II.