Polish schoolchildren topple 63 headstones of Jewish graves

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Polish schoolchildren topple 63 headstones of Jewish graves

Group of 12-year-olds told the police they did it because they wanted to build a fortress out of the slabs

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

Several children in Poland toppled 63 headstones of Jewish graves because they wanted to use the slabs to build a fortress, they told police.

The group of five 12-year-olds had been working on the project for several days at the disused graveyard in Wroclaw, in western Poland, Gazeta Wyborcza reported Thursday. Police stopped them upon hearing hammering noises on Wednesday. Some of the headstones were smashed. Others were partially damaged and knocked down.

In eastern Poland last week, a headstone from a Jewish grave that was used decades ago as construction material in Kraśnik was extracted from a sidewalk and placed at the local Jewish cemetery, TVN24 reported. The headstone was discovered three years ago after the pavement over it cracked. The bureaucratic action that launched then to replace the stone bore fruit this week.

In southern Poland, the city of Bielsko-Biala is planning a commemorative space featuring Jewish headstones in recognition of the destruction of the Jewish cemetery there in the 1960s. A sports centre was built on the site, Gazeta Wyborcza reported earlier this month.

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