Wearing masks to work within Slovakia’s coronavirus restrictions, volunteers have almost fully completed the restoration of the Jewish cemetery in Námestovo, Slovakia, which suffered a vandal attack in December 2019 that saw at least 60 headstones toppled.
The cemetery Facebook page reported that restoration work (financed in large part through crowd-funding) began on April 2, three days after Slovakia relaxed some of its COVID-19 restrictions to allow the reopening of some shops and a resumption of some outdoor activities. Posts on the FB page since then have documented the work with pictures — and announced on April 23 that repairs were almost finished.
Here’s a video from the cemetery Facebook page showing the re-erected stones:
Many young people took part in the efforts, it said, including many scouts — who were shown in photos at work wearing face masks because of coronavirus measures. Slovakia’s COVID-19 restrictions include the mandatory wearing of face mask in public places.
In addition to repairing, re-erecting, and resetting the toppled stones, organizers also installed a CCTV video monitoring system.
The cemetery is located on the shore of an artificial lake formed in 1941-1954 by damming the Orava river in northern Slovakia near the border with Poland, and part of the cemetery is believe to be be under water. (Several villages were inundated when the lake was formed.)
Before the vandal attack, the Namestovo cemetery had, in fact, been well maintained and signposted, with information panels telling its story.
After the attack, Pamätaj set up a bank account for donations accessible on Facebook — see details HERE. Damage was estimated at €50,000.
On April 12, Pamätaj Chairman Karol Kurtulík told the TASR news agency that support for the restoration had come from Israel, Austria, Germany, Australia and Switzerland.
When we found out what happened, I made a collection offer via a social media profile. People contributed as little as they had. There are currently around 6,000 euros in the account. Many people have also been involved by providing a camera, web space , data storage or, for example, electrical material.
The TASR article said police were still working on the case and could not release further information at this time.