The invasion of Poland by German forces in 1939 brought for the Jews immediate and systematic dehumanization, plundering, forced ghettoization, starvation, and the "final solution", when 3 million Polish Jews were murdered-half of the 6 million who were annihilated in the Holocaust. During this time, the German forces desecrated Jewish cemeteries and robbed them of their gravestones, walls and gates in order to build roads, pavements, fortifications and other structures.
Poland Jewish Cemeteries Restoration Project, Inc. (PJCRP) had its beginnings in May 2001 with the restoration of the Ozarow cemetery (http://www.ozarow.org). Since then, PJCRP Shtetl Coordinators and donors in many countries are volunteering their time toward reconstruction and preservation of Poland's estimated 1400 devastated Jewish cemeteries, and the fencing of the large number of mass graves. Achieving these ambitious goals requires the participation internationally of governments, foundations and many individuals.
The growing list of PJCRP Shtetl Coordinators, Advisors and Supporting Organizations are helping to make possible these objectives. But, without funding very few cemeteries and mass graves can be preserved. Your donations are critical and a great mitzvah.
What can you do to help? You can sign the online petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/1200des/petition.html to ask the German government to take responsibility and pay their fair share of the costs for restoration and perennial care of the cemeteries which German forces destroyed and the thousands of mass graves they created. Please sign the petition and ask relatives and friends to sign.
Contact your synagogue/temple, Jewish federation or local board of rabbis and ask them to send a brief letter of support for the Petition to firstname.lastname@example.org Already an impressive List of Organizations Supporting the Petition have been received for example from the Jewish National Fund (representing over 1 million Jewish supporters) and from the city of Lodz (representing over 300,000 Poles).
Cemetery restoration in Poland is about remembering and honoring the dead and those murdered in the Holocaust, so many brutally murdered and buried in cemeteries and nearby forests; men, women and children. It is also about life and the living, teaching younger generations as described in the VOICES-SHOAH PROJECT, reconciliation, respect for others and preserving Jewish heritage.
Had they lived, the victims of the Shoah and their unborn children would be caring for their sacred ancestral cemeteries, where relatives, friends and revered rabbis lie buried. We must do this for them! Please help, so they can "rest in peace".