Polish Jewish Cemetery Destroyed by Contractors' Illegal Digging

A bulldozer toppled the headstones and shoved the bones aside just a year after the site was registered as a protected heritage site

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A Jewish cemetery in Grodzisk Mazowiecki, Poland
A Jewish cemetery in Grodzisk Mazowiecki, PolandCredit: Shabbat Goy / Wikimedia Commons

Building contractors in Poland destroyed a Jewish cemetery approximately one year after it was entered into a local registry of protected sites.

The old Jewish cemetery in Maszewo, a city located near Poland's border with Germany, was completely destroyed in digging performed illegally earlier this month, the Polsat news website reported Thursday.

Wojciech Janda, a member of a historical association in Poland that had the Maszewo cemetery registered as a protected landmark in 2016, told the news site a bulldozer leveled the headstones, pushing the debris, along with bones, to the edge of the plot where the headstones used to stand.

The digging came roughly three months after a woman, who was not named, bought the plot for development purposes. The deed of sale did not specify that it was a cemetery, according to the report.

A spokesperson for the Maszewo municipality told Polsat that the municipality was not aware of the digging at the site, which the spokesperson said had only recently been found to contain a small Jewish cemetery.

Alerted by locals, Janda's historical association called the police who stopped the digging. The municipality intends to restore what it can of the cemetery, its spokesperson said. The owner of the plot is being investigated for destruction of a protected heritage site.

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