VILNIUS—An important factual report on the fate of the old Gwarna Street Jewish cemetery in Wrocław, western Poland, written by a young Judaic Studies scholar in the city, Agnieszka Jablonska, has been circulating among specialists internationally since last August. It was at the time one of the sources noted in Defending History’s editorial on the subject. The report, entitled On Saving Memory: The Jewish Cemetery on Gwarna Street in Wrocław, Poland provides an abstract that summarizes the narrative:
• In 2012 a private person purchased part of the ground which originally, before World War II, belonged to the Jewish Cemetery on Gwarna Street, Wroclaw. Communist-era garages standing on this ground were demolished and an archaeological inquiry of the area was launched in 2013 in order to analyse if there were any traces of the former cemetery (human remains). The ground was in preparation for resale to a hotel investor.
• The archaeological report from 2013 stated that the property was deemed as being “clear” of any remains of a cemetery or other historical artifact. The same year in July a pile of soil with human bones was found on the outskirts of Wroclaw and reported by by-passers to the police. A TVN24 reporter (private TV station in Poland) filmed the scene: According to J. Kichler, member of the Board of Wroclaw Jewish Community who published the only comprehensive treatment of the issue in Polish, in the magazine Midrasz (No. 4(198), July-August 2017), these may have been bones removed from Gwarna Street. J. Kichler explains in his Midrasz article that one of the internet comments to the TVN24 video report indicated that the bones came from the former Jewish Cemetery on Gwarna Street.
• In 2015 a hotel investor (authorized to launch a Best Western hotel) purchased the ground, then obtained construction permit from the city authorities and started construction works at the beginning of 2017. The fragment of the cemetery where the hotel construction began in 2017 is in the shape of rectangle. The plot measures 38 x 18 meters and constitutes roughly 3.6% of the cemetery’s original parameters.
• In February 2017 human remains were unearthed on the construction site. A second archaeological investigation was ordered after the intervention of a member of the local Jewish Community, and was launched in 2017.
• The second archaeological study uncovered new findings.
The new findings referenced appear to include multiple Jewish remains of both people and matséyves (Jewish gravestones). They are detailed in the remainder of the report.
This week, Ms. Jablonska released her report to the wider scholarly community and media in the form of a power point presentation. Here the report is presented, with the author’s permission, in PDF format. Please use the handles in the upper left-hand corner to turn pages.EN_Cemetery_Gwarna_Wroclaw_A.Jablonska_v3