Children overturn headstones in Jewish cemetery in southwestern Poland

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Children overturn headstones in Jewish cemetery in southwestern Poland

Two 13-year-old boys and a 12-year-old girl told authorities they were unaware of the significance of the cemetery in Opole

An old Jewish headstone in a cemetery
An old Jewish headstone in a cemetery

Three children overturned 15 gravestones at the Jewish cemetery in Opole, in southwestern Poland.

Two 13-year-old boys and a 12-year-old girl told authorities that they did not know what kind of place it is and did not know its history.

Krzysztof Bielawski, founder of a website about Jewish cemeteries,, told JTA that during World War II the cemetery in Opole was bought by its former gravedigger and member of Nazi Party who is known only by his last name, Hoffman. In part of the cemetery he arranged to set up a garden. After 1945, a car workshop functioned there.

“Matzevot (gravestones) were gradually stolen. In 1971 there was a man who died crushed by one of the monuments during the dismantling of tombstones,” Bielawski said.

“The last devastation was made by children, but let us remember that in many places in Poland, it is the students who look after Jewish cemeteries. Further education is necessary,” adds Bielawski.

There are a total of about 770 tombstones in various condition at the cemetery in Opole.

The children apologised for their behaviour. The family court will now deal with the case.

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