Activists in Poznan, Poland are seeking funds to erect information signage at the artificial Lake Rusałka — a popular local resort that was built during WW2 by Jewish prisoners and Polish forced laborers.
As we wrote in November, the city of Poznan said it wanted to reclaim and rescue the matzevot that the Nazis uprooted from the city’s Jewish cemetery and used to line and reinforce the lake. An article Saturday on the web site thefirstnews.com says that falling water levels in the lake have revealed some of the matzevot.
In May, two local NGOs, the Stowarzyszenie Mieszkańców Abisynia (Residents Association Abisynia) and Stowarzyszenie Łazęga Poznańska (Poznań Wanderer Association) received the OKs and necessary permissions to erect informational signage that would tell the history of the lake’s creation and rescue it from oblivion.
They launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the 8000 zloty (€1.800) needed for the project, saying that this type of funding meant that the information panel would be “created by a joint effort of Poznań residents.” (As of May 31, more than 6000 zloty had been pledged.)
“Help us to bring back the history of the lake Rusałka from oblivion!” the campaign states:
This artificial reservoir was built during the occupation by Jewish prisoners and Polish forced laborers. Few of us know about their tragic fate. Few know that they worked beyond their powers, were tortured and starved. Under the barrels of rifles, they were forced to smash the tombstones of their ancestors and strengthen the shores of the lake with them. The memory of these people and their suffering was to be wiped off the face of the earth forever. We want to change this and restore the dignity of the victims of Nazi terror. We can do this by cultivating memory.
The NGOs said the information panel would measure 60 x 200cm and would confirm with the guidelines of the City Information System. The content on the panel was written in consultation with local historians who deal with the Nazi occupation and Holocaust.
According to thefirstnews.com, efforts to rescue the mazevot (which were to begin in December) have not progressed very far:
Although the low water levels have uncovered the tombstones and some can be found in the bushes around the lake, the operation to remove them all won’t be easy. It will require lowering the reservoir’s water levels even more, replacing the stones with other materials, and ensuring that the fauna and flora survive the process.