Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Poland: Prisoners to renovate Jewish cemeteries

AFP reported that prisoners are to do conservation work in disused Jewish cemeteries, Poland’s prison service said Thursday.

Prison spokesperson Ireneusz Mucha said an agreement had been signed with the national Polish-Jewish heritage foundation enabling the prisoners to volunteer.

Some 1,000 Polish cemeteries need work; many were destroyed by the Nazis during World War II.

“The voluntary, unpaid work will be run with local authorities or Jewish communities. The advantages will go both ways, because the foundation will also provide courses in history and tolerance for the prisoners,” Mucha said.

More than 12 prisons will participate.

Initial projects will be building a memorial in a Radom cemetery, south of Warsaw, and renovation of a Zwierzyniec graveyard in Poland's southeast.

The story added that Jews arrived in Poland from western Europe to escape 11th century pogroms.

Before the Holocaust, some 3.5 million Jews lived in Poland, about 10% of the population and Europe's largest Jewish community.

Of the six million Jews killed by the Nazis, half were Polish. Most perished in concentration camps.

Today, some 5,000-15,000 people in Poland identify as Jewish.

Read more here.

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