Toilet instead of tombs

warsaw (jps) | The Jewish cemeteries of Szczeckociny have not been so much desecrated as decimated.

One has been turned into an industrial zone. The other now holds the central bus station, a private home and a public toilet. No graves, memorials or anything else remains to tell visitors that these were once places where generations of Polish Jews were buried. Even many of the bones themselves were cleared out during the construction of these sites.

“When we saw the toilet … we were very shocked. It’s like a symbol of anti-Semitism,” said Yossi Bornstein, who discovered the destroyed cemeteries when he visited Poland in August with his father, an 81-year-old Holocaust survivor originally from Szczeckociny.

“What is anti-Semitism? It’s saying, ‘Here’s a Jewish cemetery, and we’re gong to put a toilet on it,'” said Bornstein.

He has since embarked on a crusade to reclaim the quarried gravestones, build a monument to the town’s former Jewish community, and, at the very least, remove the toilets. He has appealed to Christian and Jewish religious leaders in Poland and enlisted the aid of the World Jewish Congress, which recently sent a letter to Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski seeking his intervention on the matter.