Jewish gravestones used to build playground in Poland, Israeli newspaper claims

Meir Bulka is campaigning for the gravestones to be returned

One of the photos released by Meir Bulka, apparently showing the desecration of the Jewish cemetery around 1959 (Meir Bulka)

Monday, April 24, 2017

Jewish gravestones have been used to build a playground and the walls of a Christian cemetery in a town in southern Poland.

That's according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, citing campaigner Meir Bulka, who is leading attempts to have the gravestones restored.

Bulka told Haaretz he went to the town of Ostrowiec Swietokrzyski in 2015, hoping to see the graves of his relatives. His more recent family members, murdered in the Holocaust, have no graves, but Bulka says he wished to see the final resting places of his more distant ancestors and give them the Jewish mourner's prayer.

However he claims that, when he looked for the graves at Ostrowiec's Jewish burial site, he found only vandalised graves and piles of rocks. When he asked a local man for help, the man directed him to the local Christian cemetery - where he found Jewish headstones embedded in the wall.

When he went to research what had happened to the Jewish graves in Ostrowiec, he found several pictures which suggested they were removed around 1959, when Poland was under Communist rule.

Bulka also discovered that some stones had been put into a local playground.

The campaigner claims he then went to confront the local mayor, who said he'd remove the gravestones from the cemetery wall - as long as Bulka funded their removal, transportation and replacement, at a cost of around $125,000 (£98,000).

Recalling his conversation with the mayor, Bulka said: “Not only do you take my people’s gravestones and use them for disrespectful purpose, you expect me to build you a new wall?

“There’s no reason for us to fund the construction of a wall for a Christian cemetery.”

Bulka is continuing his campaign for the stones to be returned, and has even released a video documenting his research.