Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ukraine: Kremenets cemetery restoration project identifies hundreds of gravestones as parking lot pavements

Ukraine: Kremenets cemetery restoration project identifies hundreds of gravestones as parking lot pavements

Researchers for the Kremenets (Ukraine) Jewish Cemetery Restoration Project have identified several areas in the town where Jewish gravestones from the large cemetery are being used as parking lot paving, first installed during the Second World War by the occupying Germans, and in place ever since. Two areas adjacent to the former Gestapo headquarters have been identified. In addition, it is thought that a large area around the Lyceum – used by the Germans as a military hospital – also has buried matzevot. A project has been developed to move these stones, which probably date from the 18th and 19th century and number in the hundreds, back to the cemetery and to photograph and transcribe their inscriptions as part of a larger project to document, protect and preserve the historic site. The group seeks funds for retrieving the stones and creating a memorial (still to be decided).

The Kremenets Cemetery project was begun in 2004. The project began with photos of the 3,200 individual matzevot that were visible, and continued with removal of excess vegetation from the 25,000 square meter site. Detailed maps identifying site constitutions, types of vegetation and the location and condition of all gravestones and other notable features were then prepared by a team led by L'viv-based Professor V.P. Kucheryavyi developed the plan. Their report and other results of Phase I of the Project are online at The plan provides an exemplary effort of site documentation which should be required before similar cemeteries before any repair or conservation work is undertaken. The examination of the site in phase I more than doubled the number of known gravestones at Kremenets. It also documented the effects of wartime vandalism of the cemetery and the subsequent half century of neglect.

Reports detailing the full results of Phase I and other aspects of the projects are on the website of the KJCPC:

Phase II of the Kremenets Jewish Cemetery Project is designed to begin with some stone conservation and gravestone re-erection on the site. This will be done within the confines of a stone conservation training program which will involve local workers and create a ongoing and economically useful conservation program. The hope of local officials is that these skills can then be transported to other needy sites in Western Ukraine. The training course in Kremenets will be followed by a pilot project in the old part of the cemetery. If done properly, this work will set a new, and much needed standard for Jewish and non-Jewish cemetery restoration work in Ukraine. The primary partners in this effort are the Kremenets-Pochayiv State Historical-Architectural Preserve, the municipality of Kremenets, and the nascent Jewish community in Kremenets. Some grants have been received, but additional funds are needed before Phase II can begin.

Questions can be directed to Dr. Ron Doctor, director of the project

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