Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Old Cemetery Returned to Jewish Community

JPost writer and Przemysl Blog friend Michael Feund reports the good news:
The Jerusalem Post, February 23, 2010

Polish city returns medieval cemetery to Jewish community
By Michael Freund

The decision marks a triumph for the Warsaw-based Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland.

Przemysl, Poland - After years of negotiations, a centuries-old Jewish burial ground in southeastern Poland that was desecrated by the Germans during the Holocaust has been restored to the Jewish community.

The cemetery, located in the city of Przemysl, near Poland's border with the Ukraine, dates back to the 16th century and served local Jews as well as those in nearby towns such as Jaroslav, Pruchnik, Kanczuga and Dynow for hundreds of years.

But the Przemysl municipality, which took over the site following the end of World War II, resisted calls to return it.

At a meeting last week, however, Poland's government-backed Regulatory Commission, which resolves claims regarding Jewish communal property, instructed city officials to turn the cemetery over to Jewish control.

The decision marks a triumph for the Warsaw-based Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, and especially for its president, Monika Krawczyk, who led the effort in recent years to recover the graveyard.

Krawczyk, whose foundation is responsible for safeguarding thousands of Jewish cultural, historical and religious sites throughout Poland, expressed satisfaction at the news.

“We are happy that the Przemysl cemetery was returned to Jewish hands," she told the Jerusalem Post, noting that, "its history is so important and intriguing".

Known as the "old cemetery", the Przemysl burial ground was in use for nearly 300 years until it became full in the middle of the 19th-century, prompting the Jewish community to open a second one in the area.
Sitting on two hectares (20 dunams), the "old cemetery" had graves dating back to at least 1574 (5335 on the Hebrew calendar).

But after the Germans invaded Poland in 1939 and occupied Przemysl, they vandalized and despoiled the site.

Prior to the Holocaust, the city was home to an estimated 20,000 Jews, who constituted nearly 30% of the city's population. Most of them were murdered by the Germans and their collaborators.

"The ancient tombstones in the cemetery were used by the Germans during the war to pave local roads, and until now, we have not succeeded in tracing them," Krawczyk said. "After the war, the brick wall surrounding it was demolished, and the materials were used by neighbors to repair local buildings."

No graves are currently visible on the site, which is overrun by weeds and vegetation and badly in need of renovation. The only trace left standing is one of the entrance gates to the cemetery.

Krawczyk, whose group will be responsible for restoring and administering the site, said that the first priority will be to take steps to prevent its further deterioration.

"We need to start with securing the perimeter of the cemetery and building a fence to protect it,” she said. The foundation has already commissioned a technical team to prepare a design.

Krawczyk expressed the hope that Jews from abroad will assist with the refurbishment of the cemetery grounds.

“We have to remember that we do it for the past generations who contributed so much to our people and our culture, and we do it also for future generations," she said.

"The least we can do for those who were buried in the old Przemysl cemetery is to try and restore the dignity of their final resting place," she added.

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Monday, February 01, 2010

Families Sternbach and Eisner

From Tina in LA... if anyone has information on these names, please contact me.

I subsequently found a note on Lukasz Beidka's indispensable site DeathCamps.org on the Belzec Remembrance page:

EISNER nee Weinstock, Ludwika (Luta)
Born in 1893. Deported from Przemysl ghetto to Belzec, in the beginning of the first "action", on 27 July 1942.

The first email:
Hello David -- My maternal grandmother - Rose Sternbach married Jacob Eisner and she definitely lived in Przemsyl until she immigrated tothe Unites States in 1921, New York, and took up residence in Brooklyn. I would appreciate any assistance you can give me to find out if I have any relatives living there or if any members of my family survived or died during the Holocaust. I believe it was a good size family and my great grandfather owned some sort of shop there.  Thank you very much - Tina Valinsky
I remember an old postcard...
Tina - While I have no direct knowledge of the names you mentioned, I can tell you that the name Eisner is known to me from a postcard I have of the Eisner Store (Men's clothing, I believe) located on Plac na Bramie in Przemysl c. 1910. I wil try to find the scan I have of it. A quick look through the JRI dadatase shows loads of Przemysl-related Eisners. It would take some effort by someone who knew the family to decipher. Sternback is not a name I know from Przemysl nor does it show up in my records. Lastly... may I post this info on the blog site? Warm regards, David
Different Eisner...
Hi David - Thank you so much for your assistance. Actually, it was Sternbach who owned the small shop, his first name might have been Samuel. My grandfather, Jacob Eisner was an upholsterer but not sure if he worked in Przemysl ( but probably did ) and then immigrated to Brooklyn with my grandmother Rosa Ester (Sternbach).

On the ship's manifest, the Adriatic, from Southampton, England, it says Hernbach was my grandmother's father's name but that must be a mistake. Yes, you have my permission to post something about this and give my email for a response. Again, I appreciate any help trying to sort out my family tree and perhaps actually connect with relatives. Sincerely, Tina Valinsky