- Title: Forgotten Jewish cemetery unearthed by construction work in Minsk
- Date: 18th October 2019
- Summary: MINSK, BELARUS (OCTOBER 15, 2019) (REUTERS) GRAVE STONE ON GROUND GRAVE STONES ON SIDE OF PIT, CONSTRUCTION TAPE ON TREES GRAVE STONE ON GROUND PARK / CONSTRUCTION WORKS IN PARK PIPES IN PIT GRAVE STONES ON GROUND MINSK, BELARUS (OCTOBER 17, 2019) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RABBI, ROMAN ABRAMOVICH, SAYING: "As sad history has it, the Jewish population was exterminated during Holocaust and World War Two. Very few people returned to Minsk, who could take care of the graveyard or take steps to refine and protect it. Apart from that the city construction moved on and it naturally caused questions - if there is no one to take care and supervise this cemetery, what should be done with it." MINSK, BELARUS (OCTOBER 18, 2019) (REUTERS) WOMEN PUSHING BABY BUGGY IN PARK GRAVE STONE ON GROUND (SOUNDBITE) (Belarussian) HEAD OF BELARUSSIAN VOLUNTEER ORGANISATION, HISTORIC AND CULTURAL MONUMENTS' PRESERVATION COMMUNITY, ANTON ASTAPOVICH, SAYING: "I understand the necessity of installing the distribution pipelines. There is such a necessity. But this can be done in a civilised way - with manual processing of the territory and proper exhumation of the remains and reburial. And then pipelines can be installed. Our burial legislation foresees such a variant." VARIOUS OF VOLUNTEERS INSPECTING GRAVE STONES (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) REGIONAL HISTORY AND CULTURE EXPERT, ALEXANDER FURS, SAYING: "Today we are trying to clear the grave stones, discovered several days ago at an excavated Jewish cemetery in Minsk, in order to read the names and dates and to find out who was buried here. For instance, I already managed to find not really direct posterity, but still posterity for some of the names of people buried here. Perhaps we will find some other interesting things." GRAVE STONE ON GROUND VOLUNTEERS TURNING STONE OVER VOLUNTEERS CLEARING STONE (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) HEAD OF BELARUSSIAN JEWISH CULTURE MUSEUM, YULIANA MIKOLUTSKAYA, SAYING: "Ideally we would like to give this territory a status of historically and culturally valuable site so that there would be no construction works conducted here. And even more ideally, we would like to set up a memorial park here in order to commemorate people, whose grave stones have been unearthed." VARIOUS OF VOLUNTEERS READING INSCRIPTION ON STONE
- Embargoed: 1st November 2019 18:15
- Keywords: Belarus graveyard cemetery Jewish cemetary grave stones Minsk park
- Location: MINSK, BELARUS
- City: MINSK, BELARUS
- Country: Belarus
- Topics: Religion/Belief,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA001B1MM6GP
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A Jewish cemetery in the centre of the Belarussian capital which had been forgotten for decades was accidentally unearthed by construction works in a local park.
According to the local media, workers were installing a pipeline for a new metro station nearby and discovered dozens of gravestones on the former territory of a Jewish ghetto.
Rabbi Roman Abramovich said the cemetery was abandoned as the Jewish population of Minsk had been killed in the years of Holocaust. After World War Two the area gradually transformed into a park.
"Very few people returned to Minsk, who could take care of the graveyard or take steps to refine and protect it," Abramovich said.
Volunteers on Friday (October 18) cleared and inspected the discovered gravestones in order to identify people buried on site and potentially find their relatives.
Anton Astapovich, a head of Belarussian volunteer organisation which protects cultural and historic heritage, said the construction works in the park were illegal.
"This can be done in a civilised way - with manual processing of the territory and proper exhumation of the remains and reburial. And then pipelines can be installed. Our burial legislation foresees such a variant," he told Reuters. According to Radio Free Europe information Astapovich also appealed to the Belarus prosecutor office, asking to review the case.
The Head of the Belarussian Jewish Culture Museum, Yuliana Mikolutskaya, said the area should be given the status of a historically and culturally valuable site.
(Production: Vladimir Kostin, Anton Derbenev)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None