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Monday, 4 April 2016

The Council of Europe supports projects to protect jewish cemeteries


And Christian cemeteries? And Muslim cemeteries?


WARSAW (EJP)—The Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland will pay a visit to Frampol, Poland next Tuesday to lend the pan-European body’s support for an initiative of the ESJF European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative, which works to protect Jewish burial grounds in Central and Eastern Europe.

Frampol is a small town in Lublin province, in south-eastern Poland. Prior to World War II, it had a large Jewish population. Frampol, or a fictional version thereof, is the setting of many stories of famous Jewish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer. In September 1939, the German Luftwaffe destroyed almost the entire town in an air raid. Around a thousand local Jews were shot by the Nazi occupiers and buried in a mass grave at the cemetery site.

Jagland – who will be joined by former Israeli minister Yossi Beilin – will engage with pupils from Frampol’s school who have helped in the protection of the local Jewish cemetery, a site owned by the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODZ), which is the Polish partner of the ESJF.

Jagland will explain to them the value of cultural heritage prior to a visit and ceremony at the Frampol Jewish cemetery.

The Council of Europe, which groups 46 European member states,supports such projects under the 2005 Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (Faro Convention). The convention links the concept of the “common heritage of Europe” to human rights and the fundamental freedoms for which the Council of Europe remains one of the historic guardians.

“The Council of Europe supports projects of cultural heritage which contribute to reconciliation, mutual understanding and inclusive societies. I am grateful to the ESJF European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative, for sharing our vision and promoting Jewish heritage which is integral to our common European culture and society,” said Thorbjørn Jagland.

“We are in a race against time to protect the last physical vestiges of Jewish presence in the thousands of towns and villages of Central and Eastern Europe wiped out by the Nazis. Our role is to physically protect these sites, and we must act now as memory becomes history and it will soon be too late,” saidPhilip Carmel, chief executive of the ESJF.

During its pilot year, the ESJF completed over 30 fencing projects in Ukraine, Poland and the Czech Republic. In 2016, the NGO is expanding its activities in into Belarus, Serbia and Hungary.

There are about 10,000 known Jewish cemetery sites across the 46 member states of the Council of Europe

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