Jewish Tombstones Used to Build Lithuanian Power Facility

Nearby Jewish cemetery apparently used for building materials by the post-World War II Soviet occupation authorities.

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Authorities in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, are preparing to demolish a power substation that was built using tombstones looted from a Jewish cemetery, the Mail Online reported.

The use of tombstones was revealed on social media earlier this month by a local man who had noticed Hebrew and Yiddish inscriptions on the graffiti-covered walls of the substation. Archaeologists confirmed that the tombstones had been removed from a nearby Jewish cemetery.

The substation was built in the 1960s, while Lithuania was under Soviet occupation. Local authorities are investigating whether Jewish tombstones were used in the construction of other buildings.

Giedrius Sakalauskas, the local resident who made the discovery, said he had always thought there was something strange about the bunker-like structure outside the center of the city. "Why build an electrical substation with granite blocks instead of regular bricks?" he asked.

"I touched the stones and I realized that they're really gravestones," Sakalauskas told The Associated Press.

The Jewish cemetery that previously occupied a plot of ground opposite the building was demolished by the Soviets in the 1960s.

The etchings on the substation are hard to spot unless you know what you are looking for, as they are only visible in the gaps where the slabs overlay each other.

The power substation provides electricity to thousands of homes in the area. Vilinius Mayor Remigijus Simasius said he had asked the utility that owns the facility to find a way to move the tombstones to a "proper resting place."

It was not the first building in Lithuania found to be using Jewish tombstones. In the 1990s authorities removed steps leading up to Tauro Hill, one of the highest points in Vilnius, after discovering that they were made with stones taken from a Jewish graveyard.

The mayor said two other cases are now being investigated; the steps leading up to the Reformed Evangelical Church in Vilnius — which was turned into a cinema by the communists — and a wall outside a high school in the city.

"We are talking to the Jewish community to find a proper solution." Simasius said.

Over 90 percent of Lithuania's pre-World War II Jewish population of some 240,000 was wiped out during the 1941-1944 Nazi occupation.