Before WWII, Jewish religion, culture and heritage flourished in Poland. The Nazis murdered 3 million out of 3.5 million of Poland’s Jews and in the process purposely set out to destroy all traces of Jewish heritage, including cemeteries and synagogues. Today there are only an estimated 3,000 to 10,000 Jews living in Poland without the resources to care for its 1,200 devastated Jewish cemeteries. Many contain mass graves as do nearby forests where hundreds of thousands of Jews were slaughtered. Starting with the Nazis, and then under the Soviets, the cemeteries now lie in ruin and neglect. They have been desecrated, stripped of their monuments and converted to parks, playgrounds, sport stadiums, building sites, roadways and garbage dumps. Only about 400 cemeteries have any remaining matzevot. The stones were taken for paving streets and roadways, and for construction of buildings. To date, only a handful of cemeteries have been reconstructed, mostly paid for by survivors and descendants of the former shtetls and thousands of mass graves need walls and a memorial. The cost for restoring all the cemeteries, which includes funds for perennial care and protecting and memorializing the mass graves, is estimated at $200 million.
A list of cemeteries on our crucial list:
On behalf of the millions murdered, PJCRP has created a petition, asking the German government to take responsibility and to pay its fair share of the estimated $200 million. PJCRP seeks individual signatures on the petition and also letters of support from organizations, churches and synagogues. Both can be found at www.pjcrp.org
PJCRP’s objectives include:
Please contact Aimee Fogg, NH Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about PJCRP or about other cemetery restoration projects in Eastern Europe.
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