Update (June 2021):
It was 8 years ago that we learned of the headstones that were surfacing all over Brest in the south of Belarus. Over the years we have made it a priority to work with the local community to find a way to honour the lost Jewish communities of the past and to tell the story of their suffering. Over these last eight years we have campaigned tirelessly.
With thanks to a number of donors and the support of Stephen Grynberg based in the USA, the son of one of the few survivors of the 26,000 who perished between 1941 and 1943, we are now able to move this project forward. Last Thursday, 17th June, in spite of many challenges, our Belarus Country Director, Artur Livshyts, and the Mayor of Brest, Alexandr Rogachuk, signed an exclusive agreement giving us the green light. A truly historic moment.
Every headstone, complete or broken, will be photographed, and where possible, read and translated. A lapidarium will be designed and installed on land that was once part of the cemetery which means that a lasting and timeless memorial will finally mark this place of enormous historic significance. Needless to say we are delighted and the local community are simply over the moon.
The Brest-Litovsk Jewish cemetery has a harrowing history. In present day Belarus, it cannot be seen, it has no markers and no-one would know that it ever existed.
However, in the last 15 years, gravestones that once stood in the cemetery have been surfacing all over the region. There are now approximately 1500 reclaimed gravestones, some broken and some intact. We are campaigning to raise funds to create a memorial wall using the reclaimed headstones. It is vital that we preserve the past, to create a symbol of hope for future generations.
The Together Plan is an associate member of AEPJ Jewish Heritage and is building a Jewish journey through Belarus. This memorial will feature along the route and help visitors to discover Brest’s rich Jewish heritage. It will also guide people to the contemporary Belarusian Jewish communities of today.