Skeletons dug up at Polish Jewish cemetery

Headstones defaced, skeletons extracted at Jewish cemetery in Wysokie Mazowieckie, Poland.


Jewish cemetery (illustration)
Jewish cemetery (illustration)
Flash 90

A Jewish burial ground in Poland reportedly has been damaged and another had some headstones defaced with anti-Semitic symbols in two separate incidents.

The alleged damage occurred earlier this week at Wysokie Mazowieckie, a town located 70 miles northeast of Warsaw, the J-Nerations organization, which is involved in the preservation of Jewish burial sites in Poland, said in a statement Wednesday. The municipality denied any damage to Jewish burial sites.

At least ten skeletons “have been extracted without permit or permission for the enlargement of a local bus station,” the statement said. The group’s founder, Meir Bulka, said that bulldozers remained working there even after the mayor promised to halt earthworks on the site, which dates back to the 18th century.

The construction site was supposed to border on the oldest Jewish burial site of Wysokie Mazowieckie but encroached on the graveyard’s territory, Bulka claimed. The graveyard does not have headstones, though fragments of them, including ones with Hebrew letters, are scattered across it. The city has a newer Jewish cemetery that does have headstones, Bulka said.

But Anna Niemyjska, head of the town’s municipal property office, denied this in an email to JTA. “No construction works are carried out in this area,” she said. The municipality had commissioned archaeological works in which “graves were revealed, but as of today, we do not know exactly where the graves are,” she added.

“After receiving information about the extent of burial places in the cemetery, it will be secured and commemorated with cooperation with the Jewish community” of Poland, Niemyjska later said.

Bulka shared with JTA pictures he said were taken this week at the construction site, showing what appears to be human remains in heaps and inside blue garbage bags inside a freshly-dug trench.

The defacing with swastikas of headstones occurred last week at the Jewish cemetery of Sochoczew, a town located 40 miles west of Warsaw, the World Jewish Restitution Organization said.

In addition to the Nazi symbols, the culprits, who have not been identified, wrote with red paint on headstones: “Death 2 Poland” and “ISIS will Rule,” referencing the radical Islamic State group. They also drew a Jewish star hanging from a hangman’s post.

Gideon Taylor, chair of operations at WJRO, thanked local authorities for swiftly beginning to investigate what he called a “shameful act of hatred.”