Marla Raucher Osborn of Gesher Galicia reports that at least 29 new Jewish headstones and fragments have been identified and recovered in Rohatyn, Ukraine, where she has been active with local people in efforts to identify Jewish headstones found around town and arrange for their return to one of Rohatyn’s two former Jewish cemeteries, both of which were stripped of headstones under the World War II Nazi occupation.
On April 1, 25 headstones came out of a private garden located on vul. Ivano-Frankivsk, adjacent to a large courtyard known to have been paved with headstones when it was used as a parking lot for Gestapo headquarters.
In 2012, several large, fully intact headstones were lifted out of this same garden and the local activist, Mr. Vorobets, an 80-year-old retired teacher, was confident that more headstones were still hidden further below ground; since then, he had been working with the owner to negotiate a larger, second excavation project.
At least 3 more Jewish headstones were also unexpectedly discovered this month during the latest visit to Rohatyn by Jason Francisco, an American photographer who is creating an exhibit for the Galicia Jewish Museum in Kraków that opens on June 18, 2014. Two stones came from the courtyard where Gestapo headquarters was located and one from the private property of a Rohatyn lawyer, Bohdan Skrobach.
Marla reports that
It has long been suspected that more headstones will be found in the future on Mr. Skrobach’s property, as Mr. Vorobets believes that a pathway paved with headstones during the War once ran across the corner of his property toward the rynek. Several were recovered from here in 2013.
Moreover, she writes, additional Jewish headstones have been spotted on the main road to Rohatyn’s rail station in two places: one alongside an unpaved road); and several others supporting a drainage project beside an open sewer.
These sets of newly-discovered headstones, however, have not yet been excavated and removed to the “new” Jewish cemetery for safekeeping and documentation.
To-date, more than 150 Jewish headstones and fragments have found their way back to the “new” Jewish cemetery at the north end of town. (See prior JHE article on this topic)
At the end of 2013, Marla’s Rohatyn descendants group commissioned L’viv architect and artist Andrij Bojarov to begin designing a wall using the recovered headstones and headstone fragments to memorialize Rohatyn’s destroyed pre-War jewish community. It is now anticipated that the memorial wall will be built at Rohatyn’s “old” Jewish cemetery at the southeast end of town, with an information resource point created at the “new”Jewish cemetery to guide future visitors not only to the two cemeteries, but also to Rohatyn’s other sites of Jewish heritage (synagogue, Judenrat building, mikveh, etc).