My last day in Poland was a day of celebration and commemoration elsewhere in Europe. In Germany, crowds were gathering in front of the Brandenburg Gate to mark 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, while across the world Jewish communities were preparing to mark the anniversary of Kristallnacht.
It was a rainy morning, but still I trudged out to the Okopowa Street Jewish cemetery, among the largest in Europe, to see the progress of a project to record information from the tombstones for a searchable online database.
There I met three young Poles (left to right are Remigiusz Sosnowksi, Kornelia Cecerska, and Alicja Mroczkowska; a fourth also works on the project, but was absent) who have worked on the project almost daily for three years, collecting data from the cemetery’s 80,000 surviving tombstones (there were believed to be 150,000, but many were destroyed, degraded by the years, or impossible to read).
Below is video I shot on Monday, in which the team describes their work and their motivation for doing it.