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Klimontow, Poland - Cemetery Project

Volunteer Coordinator: Yechezkel Anis

Project Synopsis

Klimontow is a small town in south-eastern Poland, once home to over 5000 Jews who comprised 60% of the town’s population. The Jewish cemetery was vandalized during the war, most of its headstones removed and left open and neglected. In the 1960s a public school was built alongside, incorporating the cemetery – now rid of all its stones – into its grounds where it served as a schoolyard for the children. During the course of the last year, outdoor sports facilities (a basketball court, soccer field, and long-jump course) were constructed on the cemetery grounds and dedicated on Sep 6 of this year. The purpose of our project is to determine the exact boundaries of the cemetery, affirm its legal status as property of the Jewish community, and negotiate some form of restoration.

Key Supporters

The community of Klimontow descendants and researchers, who have been identified both through the JewishGen Family Finder and the JRI-Poland Klimontow Co-op Initiative, numbers over 100 individuals. They represent the primary pool from which funds will be made available for this project.

Project Importance

The importance of this project lies first and foremost in safeguarding the sanctity of a Jewish burial ground that has been wantonly desecrated. Beyond that there is educational importance for the local Polish community by acknowledging the absence of a populace that contributed in a major way to the development and life of the town. On an even broader scale, the project could serve to hold Poles accountable for similar acts committed in other locales that have not been addressed yet.

All details of this project will be shared on JewishGen's Klimontow’s KehillaLinks page (which is currently being created).

Project Description

The project is to be carried out by J-nerations, an Israeli-based non-profit working in Poland for the restitution of Jewish heritage sites. The organization operates in many spheres: in the legal sphere, employing lawyers who are expert in the field of property rights; in the political sphere, maintaining contact with parliamentarians from a wide range of political affiliation; and in the sphere of public opinion, employing public relation agencies both in Israel and in Poland so as to help promote their interests.

As regards the Jewish cemetery in Klimontow, these are the steps to be taken:

  1. A team headed by J-nerations director, Meir Bulka, will conduct a survey of the physical area, including drone video of the property so as to ascertain its use. An attempt will be made to obtain title documentation existing in the local records office together with the building plans that were used to develop the property over time. Legal status of the property will be determined by the Polish legal team.
  2. A report will be issued detailing the results of the investigation and presenting the range of options available for taking action. They may include one or a combination of the following:
    • Relocating some or all of the sports facilities constructed on cemetery grounds.
    • Fencing in the cemetery and declaring it a sacred Jewish site to be guarded and preserved by the local authorities.
    • Working towards the return of gravestones removed from the cemetery that may still be discovered in the town.
    • Establishing a monument on the site and perhaps a yearly memorial in conjunction with the school.
    • Examining the possibility of obtaining financial compensation, which may be used toward advancing any of the above.

Estimated Cost & Making a Contribution

The initial visit, survey, assessment, and report will cost NIS 6000 (app. $1650), plus VAT. Costs associated with subsequent activity will depend on the option chosen after receipt of the report, as described above. Terms of payment: 50% upon commissioning the survey; the remainder upon receipt of the report.

Please click here to make a contribution.

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