Polish official dismissed after construction work disturbs Jewish graves


WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — The local conservator in Siemiatycze in eastern Poland was dismissed after construction workers disturbed graves at a Jewish cemetery.

Construction work carried out at the beginning of the month on the grounds adjacent to the Jewish cemetery in Siemiatycze uncovered human remains likely from the cemetery. The chief rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich, was indignant, calling it “the worst desacralization of the Jewish cemetery” that he has seen since assuming his post 17 years ago.

Andrzej Nowakowski was dismissed from his position last week at the request of the General Conservator in Warsaw, Magdalena Gawin, who serves as undersecretary of state in the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.

The remains were unearthed earlier this month during work to modernize the power grid for the city of Siemiatycze. The ground where the remains were uncovered is adjacent to the fence of the Jewish cemetery. The case is being investigated by the District Prosecutor’s Office in Siemiatycze. The bones were handed over to the rabbinical commission for Jewish cemeteries.

A protest by Gawin in February led to charges against officials responsible for allowing the demolition of a former Jewish school building in in Konin in central Poland.

“The building was a special witness to the presence of Konin Jews, Polish citizens murdered by the German occupiers during the Second World War,” said then Magdalena Gawin. “The consequences will be taken against those whose actions consciously led to the demolition of the building.”


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