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Jewish Headstones Used for Park Gazebo Returned to Polish Cemetery

Jewish headstones used after World War II to help build a gazebo in a Warsaw park are on their way back to a historic Jewish cemetery in the city.

The return of the headstones from Praga Park to the Brodno Jewish Cemetery — the largest Jewish cemetery in Poland and among the biggest in Europe — began Sunday. The Warsaw Jewish community and the board of the city’s Praga District cooperated in the effort.

Preparations for the process lasted nearly a year, Jerzy Gierszewski, a spokesman for the office of Praga-South, told JTA. The city allocated about $120,000 for the project.

“The project is important for the simplest reason: It will be a kind of act of historical justice,” Gierszewski said.

The headstones had been used for part of a pergola and stairs at the park. Demolition of the pergola began last week and is expected to last until Nov. 30.

In April, it was announced that the dilapidated cemetery, which dates back to 1780, would undergo a $1 million renovation to be overseen by the Jewish community of Warsaw.

Piotr Kadlcik, chairman of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, said repairs will start this year with the fences and gate.

“In the near future, we also want to put there a pavilion with social facilities for staff, and a space with an exhibition on the history of the cemetery,” he said. “Perhaps we will be able to do it next year.”

Kadlcik said he wants the cemetery to be made available to tourists and nearby schools.

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