There is a move to nominate several large, urban Jewish cemeteries in Europe for inclusion on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites.
As Virtual Shtetl reports, 23 experts met in Berlin early this week to discuss the proposal and consult on a tentative list of which cemeteries could be included.
The nominations include the cemeteries in Berlin in the Weissensee District, in Budapest on Salgótarjáni Street, in Łódź on Zmienna Street, and in Warsaw on Okopowa Street. Among others, they have one thing in common: they are all set in the urban environment of large cities, and they represent the richness of the funerary art.
The idea to nominate at least some Jewish cemeteries to the UNESCO list has been building for some time. We posted about a German initiative to nominate Jewish cemeteries, in 2012. The Jewish cemetery in Hamburg Altona also was submitted in the past. Today, only two specifically Jewish heritage sites in Europe — the old Jewish quarters in Trebic, CZ (including the Jewish cemetery) and in Bardejov, Slovakia — are listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
“I am positive that the presence of Jews in Poland deserves commemoration. The nomination of this kind should be a collective nomination,” Virtual Shtetl quoted Dr Eng. Bogusław Szmygin, chairman of the Polish National Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, as saying during this week’s Berlin meeting. “This nomination should meet all the necessary criteria also the condition of being of a more than exclusively regional significance. This kind of nominations has much bigger chances to be approved.”
However, Virtual Shtetl added, Warsaw’s Okopowa street Jewish cemetery may be excluded from the list of tentative sites.
One of the reasons can be damages of the internal infrastructure of the cemetery and its closest neighborhood. These factors may decide that the cemetery will not meet the criteria of integrity and authenticity set up by UNESCO.