Poland to invest $28 million to restore Warsaw Jewish Cemetery

Excavation of a burial ground in eastern Poland on hold after human remains dug up.

December 19, 2017 18:54
2 minute read.
Poland to invest $28 million to restore Warsaw Jewish Cemetery

Polish deputy Prime Minister Piotr Glinski (left) meets with World Jewish Congress CEO and executive vice president Robert Singer at the Warsaw Cemetery on Monday. (photo credit: WORLD JEWISH CONGRESS)

The Polish government will invest $28 million to restore the Warsaw Jewish Cemetery, Polish Deputy Prime Minister Piotr Glinski told World Jewish Congress CEO and executive vice president Robert Singer on Monday.

Glinski relayed the decision to Singer during a meeting at the cemetery in the framework of a World Jewish Congress delegation visit to Poland as part of its efforts to ensure the sustained revival of Jewish life in the country.

Projects include involvement with the Auschwitz Museum, and the establishment of POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, as well as Jewish schools and educational institutions across the country.

The decision to restore the cemetery was adopted by the Polish parliament with a vote of 416-4. The government is expected to transfer the funds to Poland’s Cultural Heritage Foundation, which will implement the restoration in cooperation with the Warsaw Jewish Community.

“The World Jewish Congress urges all European governments, including in Poland, to make every effort to curb antisemitism and xenophobia once and for all,” Singer said.

“It is critical that all minorities, and all people, living on this continent enjoy the basic human right of living in peace and security. We call on European leaders to prioritize putting the necessary legislation in place to ensure that such manifestations of hatred are treated with utmost severity and penalty, and to unequivocally and loudly condemn every sign of antisemitism, neo-Nazism and neofascism.”

The Warsaw Jewish Cemetery was established in 1806 and with approximately 250,000 graves, it is considered the most recognizable of the 1,400 Jewish cemeteries in Poland, and one of the largest in Europe.

Earlier this month, the World Jewish Congress released a statement urging Poland to put a stop to the excavation of an old Jewish cemetery in the town of Siemiatycze in eastern Poland, where human remains were dug up for the construction of an electrical substation and parking lot.

Poland’s Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich has been active in efforts to halt the project and told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that he had visited the site last week together with Monika Krawczyk, CEO of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland.

“We explained again to the two private owners of that part of the cemetery that under no circumstances can they build in the cemetery and they listened... They understand the scope of the problem now and so far we have an understanding that they’re not building,” he said.

“So right now everything is secure, nothing is happening, but we don’t yet have a long-term solution.”

“If a business bought something in good faith and can’t build there, who is supposed to pay for that?” he said, adding that they needed to find a “wise and moral” solution.

The national government, president and US Embassy had all been supportive of the Jewish community on the matter, Schudrich said.

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