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The destruction of the cemeteries occurred during the German occupation and also after the war, because the Jewish population had been annihilated and could not care for them.Without caretakers for these sacred sites, during the postwar Communist era many cemeteries were declared abandoned and were converted into parks, sports arenas, housing developments, and even garbage dumps.The monuments were also used as building materials to construct fortifications and to fill in marshes.The Jews were then sent off to the death camps or murdered and buried in mass graves in the cemeteries or nearby forests.West German government responses to the problem of devastated Jewish cemeteries began to emerge in the 1950s.

by Andrew Kier Wise – Associate Professor of History, Daemen College (Amherst, NY) Destruction and Neglect A Hebrew saying states that “a cemetery is more beautiful than the grandest palace.” But during World War II, Jewish cemeteries were desecrated and stripped of their (headstones) as part of the Nazi attempt to exterminate Jews and their cultural legacy.Nowhere is this more problematic than in Poland, where the pre-World War II population of 3.5 million Jews was virtually obliterated by the Nazi-perpetrated Holocaust.Headstones continued to be repurposed under the new regime, and were used by communities for highway construction and other public works projects.Of the more than 1,200 Jewish cemeteries in Poland, only about a third have any headstones today.[1] In the immediate postwar years, Jewish leaders in Poland and the two Germanys (the Federal Republic of Germany in the west and the German Democratic Republic in the east) repeatedly demanded governmental support for the preservation of Jewish sacred sites.The Nazis also targeted for destruction sacred Jewish sites, such as synagogues and cemeteries.

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