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Jewish WWII Gravestones Discovered Right Before Destruction

Seven gravestones in abandoned house in Poland found by chance before demolition, part of destroyed Jewish cemetery.
By Nissan Tzur
First Publish: 4/2/2014, 4:09 PM

Cemetary
Cemetary
Flash 90

In western Poland, seven Jewish gravestones were discovered to have been used to build the basement ceiling of an abandoned pre-World War II house.

The gravestones were found in the town of Golina by the Polish historian Krzysztof Grochowski, who by chance decided to photograph the building shortly before its planned demolition.

While photographing, Grochowski noticed Hebrew letters embedded on the basement’s stones; brief examination revealed that they were Jewish gravestones.

It is believed that the gravestones were taken from the town’s Jewish cemetery, which was completely destroyed during the war. Currently no gravestones remain at the site of the former cemetery.

“Virtual Shtetl,” a website documenting the history of Polish Jewry, quoted a local Polish TV station TV Konin, which reported that the gravestones, made of sandstone, were found in good condition and preserved during the years.

It is still possible to read the names of the Jews engraved in the Hebrew inscriptions. According to the TV report, the abandoned building in the past housed an ice cream shop and a furniture shop.

Janusz Tomala, Director of the Monuments Protection Office’s local branch, said that the gravestones will be removed before the demolition of the old house.

However, Tomala noted that it has not yet been decided whether they will be taken to the local museum to be displayed to the public as part of an exhibition, or whether they will be used for a symbolic monument to be erected at the site of the former Jewish cemetery in Golina.

Poland, home of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp, has seen several displays of anti-Semitism lately; most noticeably, Shechita (kosher slaughter) has been banned.

In January, a Polish municipal prosecutor decided that Polish League soccer fans' anti-Semitic calls, such as "send you to the gas (chambers)," were not criminally racist.