Volunteers from the L’viv Volunteer Center (LVC) of the Hesed Arieh All-Ukrainian Jewish Charitable Foundation have been working this week to remove dozens of Jewish headstones that were found to be paving Barvinok street in downtown L’viv.
“The whole street is made from matzevot,” Sasha Nazar, the director of the LVC told JHE. He was notified about the discovery last week, after city workers began opening the street to carry out repairs.
Nazar estimated that there could be 100 stones there, and maybe more.
“This is the biggest discovery of matzevot [used as paving] I can remember,” he said.
Nazar said that matzevot had been removed from the street in the past — in 2010, when about a dozen stones were removed, and in 2017 when several others were rescued. But there has been nothing previous to match the scale of this most recent discovery.
The stones will be transported to the Yanovskoye Jewish cemetery, to join the matzevot rescued previously.
Photos show intact headstones as well as fragments lying horizonatally and neatly arranged, one next to the other; they had been hidden beneath the surface asphalt. Some are face up and some face down. Most appear to date from the first part of the 20th century.
JHE friend Marla Raucher Osborn, who is among the volunteers working to remove the stones and who has allowed us to post some of her photos, says, “This stretch of vul Barvinok appears to be completely paved with Jewish headstones. 75 years ago, there were Gestapo residences on this street and Jewish labor was requisitioned to pave the roads with headstones stolen from the Jewish cemeteries.”
Jewish headstones are believed to have been used also in Soviet times to pave other streets and squares in L’viv, as well as other construction — as they were in other places, such as in Vilnius, Lithuania, where the vast Uzupis Jewish cemetery was razed in the 1960s and and used as a quarry. Efforts have been going on in Vilnius to recover these abused matzevot.
Nazar said that the LVC had requested help from the city to remove and transport the heavy stones. The city provided two workman, he said, but the only worked for a couple of hours.