19.07.2020 | Redaktor

Cleaning the cemetery, 2015-2020

When we first started taking care of the Brzesko Jewish cemetery in April 2015, most of the area was covered with bushes and it was only possible to walk down the main alley leading to the ohels.
We had neither equipment nor money, but we wanted to do something for the people buried at the cemetery. It is difficult to count how many hours we have spent cutting bushes, collecting rubbish, mowing grass, cleaning matzevot. At first, there was a handful of us, but gradually students from nearby schools and Brzesko residents started joining us. We brought secateurs and garbage bags with us, borrowed saws, brushcutters and lawn mowers from friends. We’ve developed good relationship with the city administration, who every couple of months took away from the cemetery piles of cut trees and all collected garbage. In 2018-2019, US students came to Brzesko and we cleaned the cemetery together.
During these five years, we cleaned the entire cemetery, and with the help of Aleksander Schwarz from the Rabbinical Commission on Jewish Cemeteries, located and commemorated two mass graves. In 2019, all matzevot were documented by Witold Wrzosiński and Remigiusz Sosnowski from the Foundation for Documentation of Jewish Cemeteries in Poland.
The cemetery covers an area of 1.4 hectares, and it requires a lot of effort to maintain it in a decent condition. We still regularly mow grass, cut re-growing trees and collect garbage. We put stones and light candles on mass graves. We remember.

April 2015. That’s what the cemetery looked like 5 years ago.
April 2015. Alley leading to the ohels.
The same alley, 2020
It was impossible to get through to the majority of matzevot.
The same area, 2020
2015.  It was impossible to get through to the majority of matzevot.
You can see part of the cemetery that has been cleaned and high bushes behind it.
Pile of bushes cut during one day of work.
Autumn 2015. Brzesko high school students joined us.
Autumn 2015. This is what the area of mass graves looked like 5 years ago. Note that there was no monument at the right hand-side.
The same area, autumn 2017. A new monument on the mass grave of Brzesko Jews was unveiled. Author of the project – Damian Styrna.
Autumn 2018. Commemoration of the second mass grave. Three years earlier this area was also completely covered with bushes