Controversy erupting over plans to build at Warsaw deportation site

ROME, March 29 (JTA) — Polish Jewish groups are denouncing plans to build houses at a site in Warsaw from which hundreds of thousands of Jews were deported to their deaths in Treblinka during World War II. At a news conference in Warsaw last Friday held by several Jewish organizations, Feliks Tych, the director of the Jewish Historical Institute, said plans to build at Umschlagplatz represented “moral vandalism.” A monument has stood at Umschlagplatz since the late 1980s, but the site has not been maintained. A bus depot and some shacks have long stood there. Recently, a housing cooperative that has other apartments nearby attempted to build new housing on the site. The Warsaw official in charge of monuments declared the area a historical site, a designation that prevents new building projects. But, following an appeal, the national monuments office reversed this ruling. Nonetheless, Warsaw’s mayor and officials with several organizations have said that the area should be managed in a way that would take into account its history. “Polish Jews believe that the area should be a memorial site devoted to the commemoration of the murder of Warsaw Jews,” Stanislaw Krajewski, a Polish Jewish leader and the American Jewish Committee’s consultant on Poland, told JTA. The Jewish protest was sparked by the fact that one of the shacks on the site was torn down by the housing cooperative earlier this month in an apparent prelude to construction there. Representatives of the cooperative were quoted as calling the Jewish protests “anti-Polish.”

NEXT STORY