Final Report Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries 2019-2021

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Foundation for Jewish Heritage

Final Report

Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries: Continuation of the mapping process, stakeholders’ involvement and awareness-raising (EAC/S10/2019)

Beneficiary: ESJF European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative, Centropa, and the Foundation for Jewish Heritage LITHUANIA

POLAND

SLOVAKIA

UKRAINE

HUNGARY CROATIA

GEORGIA

13 December 2019 — 13 July 2021


Hungary


Contents Project summary Research and surveys Awareness-raising and engagement Display of gathered data and experiences COVID-19 and related challenges 1. Background research Ground surveys: geotag imagery with drones App utilisation Historical background research Visiting vs. surveying 2. Mapping and surveying Geography of surveys Found sites Categories

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15

21

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Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

Preservation status Protection 3. Data processing Historical overviews 4. Cooperation and stakeholder engagement Raising awareness on the ground Engaging local and regional authorities 5. Education events Seminars summary Youth storytelling competition Teacher lesson plans 6. Communications and media strategy The project website Social media engagement Centropa media summary

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37 43

49

57


Contents

Publicity tools: videos and brochures Selected media coverage about the pilot project 7. The project website, database, and 3D models Pre-planning for the website Survey database Technical processing for 3D model rendering 8. Best practices collection and publication Methodology and gathering process Education section and conclusion Reception 9. Conclusion and next steps

67

73

79

5


Slovakia


Project summary

T

his report provides an overview of the implementation of the action ‘Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries: Continuation of the mapping process, stakeholders’ involvement and awareness-raising’. The action ran for 19 months between 13 December 2019 and 13 July 2021, including one month granted as an extension to account for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The action builds on the results of previous pilot project “Mapping the Jewish cemeteries of Europe” (EAC/S10/2018), extending its already covered areas and comprising the following key components: research, survey work, education activities, stakeholder engagement, publications (database and written deliverables) and outreach. The report provides information about all these components following the sequence of the action itself. The project took place in seven project countries, three of which ESJF had already conducted surveys in in the previous pilot project (Ukraine, Lithuania, and Slovakia), and four additional countries that extended the geographic scope within and beyond the EU (Croatia, Hungary, Poland, and Georgia). All of the aforementioned components took place in each project country.

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Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

The project was carried out as a consortium between three nonprofit organisations: the ESJF, Centropa, and the Foundation for Jewish Heritage (FJH), based respectively in Germany, Hungary, and the United Kingdom.

Consortium Partner

Foundation for Jewish Heritage

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Mission Statement

Project Focus

Protect and preserve Jewish cemetery sites across the European continent through mapping, surveying and fencing projects, as well as through building strong ties with local stakeholders including Jewish communities, local authorities, and youth.

Survey management, stake­ holder engagement, web development, database construction, project promotion and PR, and consortium coordination.

Preserve 20th century Jewish family stories and photos from Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans, and disseminate these stories and photos through films, books, and exhibitions.

Educational activities including teacher seminars and student competitions.

Work internationally to ensure that important Jewish architectural sites, monuments and places of cultural significance in danger are preserved and re-imagined for a sustainable future.

Collecting best practices and historical overviews.


Project summary

The goals of the pilot project were the following: Research and surveys The action built upon existing technical workflow and background research for ground surveying Jewish cemeteries with drones in order to: 1. Map and survey an additional 1,700 Jewish cemeteries in seven European (EU and Eastern Partnership) countries: Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Croatia, Hungary, and Georgia. 2. P rocess gathered data according to a taxonomy that assesses the urgency of protection measures. 3. C reate 3D models of cemetery sites to aid future protection and preservation. Awareness-raising and engagement In the course of the research and survey work described above, and in collaboration with consortium partners Centropa and the Foundation for Jewish Heritage, the action sought to: 1. Develop and carry out cemetery-focused educational activities for teachers and youth in order to foster tolerance and raise awareness about the multiethnic, multicultural history of Europe through the lens of Jewish heritage. 2. Foster cooperation with local authorities, NGOs and other stakeholders to accelerate the impact of surveying and enhance the protection of Jewish heritage on a local and national level.

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Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

Display of gathered data and experiences Using the experiences gathered in the course of both pilot projects, the action sought to: 1. Process survey data, historical information, ground photographs, and 3D models of Jewish cemetery sites for display in an open-access online database on the dedicated project website. 2. P resent survey results and noteworthy milestones on the project website and through social media, national, as well as international press outlets. 3. P roduce a Catalogue of Best Practices featuring case studies of exemplary cooperation, preservation, and engagement initiatives in all project countries, and distribute the catalogue to existing and potential stakeholders. The report offers an overview of the steps taken to achieve the above goals, explaining the key results as well as the main challenges. In cases where we encountered obstacles and needed to adjust the working process, most significantly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the report explains the reasons and key implications of these changes. COVID-19 and related challenges In contrast to the previous pilot project, in which only the last four months were affected by the pandemic, nearly all work conducted within the timeframe of the second pilot had to be adjusted as a result of these unprecedented challenges. On 13 March, 2020 (M3 of the action) ESJF closed its Kyiv office and introduced a fully remote working regime that extended through the end of the grant period. While core staff quickly adjusted to remote work with the aid of office technologies such as Zoom, project deliverables were nevertheless severely impacted.

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Project summary

At the high point of the lockdown across all of our project countries in the spring and early summer of 2020, surveys suffered a three-month hiatus. During that time, our research team focused on preparing detailed survey itineraries with the hope of travel resuming soon. While surveys in Ukraine resumed as early as M6 of the action, all other project countries continued to impose travel restrictions that prevented our Ukraine-based drone pilots from entering the field. Thus, in order to promptly resume fieldwork, we relied on our local partners and country coordinators to identify candidates in all of our project countries who could be entrusted to conduct these highly specialised tasks. This new modality, though effective, also presented a new set of challenges. Every surveyor was required to undergo a rigorous virtual training in order for their fieldwork to meet ESJF standards. Variations in surveyor ability, pace of fieldwork, and countryspecific salary requirements made it more difficult to streamline the survey process than it had been in the previous pilot. In addition, with many synagogues and Jewish community centres on lockdown, there was only so much information that could be gathered from the field, and because library access was curtailed in all project countries, historical research was also slowed. Compounding the challenges of the pandemic were other country-specific obstacles. A restrictive set of laws concerning permits for drone photography in Hungary forced us to postpone the start of fieldwork there until M11 of the action. In Georgia, treacherous terrain in mountainous areas delayed fieldwork until warmer weather set in, beginning M15 of the action. Given these challenges, the ESJF opted to request a one-month extension to the EU grant deadline in order to mitigate these difficulties and finish surveying and the processing of survey data in time.

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Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

After surveys, our educational programmes were the most heavily affected. Of the seven teacher training seminars that took place, two (Ukraine and Georgia) were moved to a webinar format. In addition, because schools were operating remotely, many class trips to cemeteries were postponed, necessitating a two-week extension to the youth storytelling competition. The student award ceremony and national closing conference took place via webinar as well. The best practices development event that was initially proposed to take place at the midpoint of the project was ultimately canceled due to the continuing impact of the pandemic. With surveys indefinitely delayed and communication slowed with our partners on the ground, we instead resolved to focus our energy on producing the Catalogue of Best Practices for Jewish Cemetery Preservation. Rather than holding a single interim event, we continued to exchange best practices through regular consortium meetings and other virtual touchpoints. A symposium was initially planned to take place at the conclusion of our survey and educational work. However, due to the continued restrictions imposed by the pandemic, the event was restructured to take place online via Zoom instead, going ahead on July 13th, 2021. Despite the logistical hurdles imposed by carrying out such an event remotely, the symposium was a success, with a combination of live and recorded presentations from European Commission Vice-President various stakeholders and partners. Margaritis Schinas presenting remarks at the concluding programme Featured speakers included Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President of the European Commission; Katharina von Schnurbein, EC Coordinator on Combatting Antisemitism; and Charles Goerens, MEP. The online format also allowed for a recording of the event to be made available on the ESJF website, letting it ultimately reach a wider audience. 12


Project summary

Finally, because we were unable to hold a national closing conference at the conclusion of the first pilot, we began to host a series of webinars to present our country reports from both years. The same approach was taken with our symposium on the ESJF’s surveys in Moldova and the awards ceremony for our Youth Digital Storytelling Competition, which took place via Zoom on January 28th and June 3rd, 2021, respectively.

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Drone survey, Georgia


1. B ackground research

T

he ESJF uses unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones, to perform terrain analysis and capture visual data of survey sites. This work was carried out with the Mavic 2 pro and Phantom 4RTK drone models, which ESJF found to be effective in the framework of the previous pilot project. This technology enables pilots to obtain high resolution geotag imagery which is later processed to create a point cloud which can be incorporated into the design of future protective fencing measures. RTK (RealTime Kinematic) is a technique used to improve the accuracy of GPS systems.

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While traditional GPS receivers, such as those found in mobile devices, can determine their position with an accuracy of 2-4 metres, with RTK, users are able to determine their position to the centimetre level. In order to process the RTK data, we use both RTK base station and, in the case of the Phantom 4RTK, an RTK rover. Recent technological advances have allowed us to integrate these drones into our broader workflow in order to map certain slots of land and create high resolution 3D models with the help of photogrammetry that can be used for architectural and engineering purposes, as well as detailed topographic mapping. Acquiring this data has allowed us to obtain data faster and more accurately than would be possible using conventional methods such as manual measurement and ground surveys. Although this workflow means pilots must spend more time on the ground, it greatly reduces the labour for architects. App utilisation In order to customise workflow, ESJF uses a mobile application designed specifically for drone pilots, which was developed in the framework of the 2018-20 European Commission-funded pilot project, “Protecting the Jewish Cemeteries of Europe: Continuation of the mapping process, stakeholders’ involvement and awarenessraising” (EAC/S10/2019). The app comes with a standardised questionnaire, with questions about the conditions in each cemetery, allowing for information to be uploaded directly to ESJF’s cloud server, to make fast data processing possible. Pilots immediately fill these in on the ground, gathering information about the approximate number of gravestones and describing the exact location of the cemetery site in cases where there is no address. The app also comes with a taxonomy, according to cemetery type and the urgency of fencing. The categories are as follows:

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Background research

Type of cemetery: Fenced and protected Jewish cemetery Unfenced Jewish cemetery Jewish section within municipal cemetery Demolished and overbuilt Jewish cemetery Demolished but not overbuilt Jewish cemetery Urgency of fencing: H igh Low Fence not needed When pilots fill out the questionnaire or take photos within the app, the data is immediately uploaded to the ESJF’s cloud server. At the end of each day of surveying, pilots upload the footage and images captured by the drones. The questionnaire was optimised during the previous pilot project in order to fit the needs of surveyors in the field. Historical background research: compiling the lists of survey locations Initial survey preparation took place in months M2-M3 of the action, wherein the ESJF chief historian worked with research assistants to develop a list of cemeteries for each project country. Comprehensive surveys of Jewish cemeteries in all seven project countries required complete lists of Jewish cemeteries, both existing and lost. Among these countries, no state or other generally accepted lists of Jewish cemeteries previously existed in Ukraine, Georgia, or Croatia. In Poland, Lithuania, Hungary, and Slovakia, Jewish cemetery registers had been compiled by various Jewish organizations and government agencies. Unfortunately, these lists are not always accurate and complete.

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Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

Existing international databases and individual studies, as well as numerous historical documents and other evidence, made it possible to supplement gaps in the existing lists. This supplementary work required separate research to ensure that the cemetery lists for each country were as comprehensive as possible. The surveys for EAC/S10/2019 used the methodology developed in the previous pilot project, which followed these steps: 1. Compiling the lists of all known Jewish cemeteries from all existing and available lists and databases (communal, private, national, and international). 2. Using a wide range of historical sources including topographic maps of Poland, Russia, Hungary, Austria, and Germany of the 1780s-1940s, as well as cadastral maps, Yizkor books, etc., to find and add Jewish cemeteries not mentioned in any previous lists. 3. Adding a list of the settlements in which there were significant peak Jewish populations (at least 100 people), signifying that a cemetery was likely to have existed, despite not being mentioned in any available sources. Using this methodology, lists were compiled to include 1) known Jewish cemeteries and cemeteries previously mentioned on maps or other documents, and 2) settlements where cemeteries were likely to have existed given the existence of a sizable Jewish population, to be confirmed on-site by interviewing local residents.

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Batumi Jewish cemetery in Georgia 20


2. Mapping and surveying: implementation and results

D

uring the second pilot project EAC/S10/2019, the ESJF team visited 1,722 cemeteries in Ukraine, Hungary, Slovakia, Lithuania, Poland, Croatia, and Georgia. Geography of surveys In Ukraine, the team surveyed 344 cemeteries. These surveys covered 9 Oblasts (Zhytomyr, Kirovohrad, Vinnytsia, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Donetsk, Crimea) in the Central and Southern regions of Ukraine, which make up around one-third of the country’s territory. Together with the EAC/S10/2018 results, our findings now represent a full survey of the country, with 1,323 Jewish cemeteries surveyed and registered. In Hungary, 311 cemeteries were surveyed in two north-eastern regions, SzabolcsSzatmár-Bereg and Hajdú-Bihar, both of which were fully surveyed. In Slovakia, 132 Jewish cemeteries were surveyed in the Bratislava, Nitra, Trencin and Zilina regions. In Lithuania, 109 Jewish cemeteries were surveyed, mostly in the northern regions of the country. Together with the EAC/S10/2018 results, we have now completed a full survey of the Jewish cemeteries in the country, with 212 sites surveyed and registered. In Poland, 711 cemeteries were surveyed, fully covering 9 Voivodeships (Lublin, Subcarpathia, Lesser Poland, Podlaskie, Łódź, Opole, Mazovia, and Silesia). In Georgia and Croatia, ESJF teams carried out full surveys of the countries’ Jewish cemeteries, visiting 31 sites in the former and 84 in the latter. 21


Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

Found sites As a result of the survey, the existing lists of Jewish cemeteries in some countries were substantially supplemented. In total, 178 of the 1,722 cemeteries surveyed were not mentioned on any existing database. The following table reflects the existing databases and the number of cemeteries found by ESJF in the surveyed regions: Main existing databases

Sites checked by ESJF

Surveyed and categorised by ESJF

Among them not mentioned in any list

638

344

100

59

31

31

341

311

25

112

109

3

(mentioned in any databases, other sources, historical maps, settlements with a considerable Jewish population) Ukraine

IAJGS

US Commission

KSEN

9 regions: Zhytomyr, Kirovohrad, Vinnitsya, Kherson, Zaporizhya, Dnipro, Kharkiv, Donetsk, Crimea

145

207

229

(non-localised)

Georgia

No lists existed

All country Hungary

ZSTM

Szabolc-SzatmarBereg,Haidu-Bihar

304

Lithuania

KVR

Maceva Foundation

Northern regions of the country

204

202

(for all country)

(for all country)

(total 212 for all country)


Mapping and surveying: implementation and results

Main existing databases

Sites checked by ESJF

Surveyed and categorised by ESJF

Among them not mentioned in any list

108

84

0

260

132

16

753

711

3

(mentioned in any databases, other sources, historical maps, settlements with a considerable Jewish population) Croatia

S. Matic’s list

I. Ceresnjes’ list

All country

99

100

(not fully localised)

(non-localised, no details)

Slovakia

IAJGS

Community restitution list

Partial survey of Bratislava, Trencin, Zilina and Nitra regions

169

138

Poland

Polin museum database

NID

9 voivodeships: Lublin, Subcarpathia, Lesser Poland, Holy Cross, Podlaskie, Lodz, Opole, Mazovia, Silesia

729

700


Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

Categories Analysis of the data received was based upon the categorisation of Jewish cemeteries by their preservation and protection status. The project used the same system of categorisation developed for EAC/S10/2018. Accordingly, cemeteries were divided into: Preserved, that is, those where at least one tombstone in situ has been preserved, Demolished, on which the tombstones were not preserved. The preserved cemeteries are divided into: 1. Protected and fenced. 2. Unfenced, therefore endangered. The demolished cemeteries were divided into: 1. Demolished and overbuilt. In these cases not only tombstones, but also burials were lost. 2. D emolished and not overbuilt. These are the cemeteries where the tombstones were used for various purposes by the authorities or the local population, however, the burials were most likely preserved. Jewish sections on municipal cemeteries were allocated into a separate category. This form of Jewish necropolis is more typical for the post-WWII period especially in former Soviet countries. As Jewish sections are maintained as part of the municipal cemeteries in which they are located, they are the responsibility of the municipality and do not require additional protection.

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Mapping and surveying: implementation and results

Thus, cemeteries were divided into five categories, reflecting the preservation and protection state of the object: 1. Fenced and protected Jewish cemeteries 2. Unfenced Jewish cemetery 3. Jewish section within municipal cemetery 4. Demolished Jewish cemetery that has not been built over 5. Demolished and overbuilt Jewish cemetery The following chart shows the general results for 1,722 Jewish cemeteries surveyed in EAC/S10/2019: GENERAL RESULTS Demolished and overbuilt Jewish cemetery 262 (15.2%)

Fenced and protected Jewish cemeteries 591 (34.3%)

Demolished Jewish cemetery that has not been built over 265 (15.4%)

Jewish section within the municipal cemetery 112 (6.52%)

Unfenced Jewish cemetery 492 (28.6%)

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Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

The table below shows the distribution of cemeteries by category in each of the project countries: Categories Fenced and protected Jewish cemetery Unfenced Jewish cemetery Jewish section within the municipal cemetery

Ukraine

Poland

Hungary

Lithuania

Slovakia

Croatia

Georgia

64

262

141

37

53

15

19

137

157

75

57

44

17

5

27

2

33

0

16

31

3

44

148

42

11

13

6

1

72

138

20

4

6

15

3

Demolished Jewish cemetery that has not been built over Demolished and overbuilt Jewish cemetery

Preservation status The criterion for distinguishing between preserved and demolished cemeteries was the presence of at least one tombstone in situ, since this criterion is most easily determined visually during the expedition. Cemeteries that we designate as “preserved” largely fall into the following categories: “Fenced and protected Jewish cemetery”, “Unfenced Jewish cemetery”, and “Jewish section within the municipal cemetery”.

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Mapping and surveying: implementation and results

Two points are important to understand the numbers below. 1. Our criterion of preserved/demolished cemetery does not reflect the degree of preservation of the cemetery. Most of the cemeteries surveyed were damaged to some extent during WWII and the post-war period. The conclusion about what percentage of the gravestones were lost and what have survived can only be made if there is evidence to indicate the pre-war state of the cemetery and the number of gravestones. This requires a separate study. Although we can approximate the extent to which a cemetery was preserved based on the maximum area of the cemetery in the pre-WWII period, the peak Jewish population, and the current number of gravestones, we cannot draw any reliable conclusions about the degree of preservation based solely on this data. Therefore, we do not show the degree of preservation in these project results. Thus, the presented statistics do not take into account the degree of preservation of the cemeteries and only reflect the fact that they have been at least minimally preserved. 2. The rate of preserved and demolished cemeteries is also affected by the ability of ESJF, localise, demolished cemeteries. The demolished cemeteries in the framework of the project were localised mainly by consulting pre-WWII topographic maps, which were not accessible to the same degree in all countries. It is definitely possible that in some countries and regions the relatively small percentage of demolished cemeteries is due a lack of record-keeping, as opposed to a high level of preservation. Among the cemeteries surveyed, 1,195 (69.4%) were found to be preserved with at least one tombstone in situ, and 527 (30.4%) were found to be demolished. However, the rates differ substantially by country.

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Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

Comparative data on the preservation of cemeteries in these countries are shown in the graph below:

Preserved with at least 1 tombstone

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Demolished


Mapping and surveying: implementation and results

The highest degree of preservation was recorded in Georgia (87%), Lithuania (86.2%), Slovakia (85.6%), and Hungary (80%). The lowest degree was recorded in Poland (59.2%), followed by Ukraine (66.3%). The high percentage of demolished cemeteries in Poland and Ukraine is a result of Nazi forces destroying Jewish burial sites during the occupation, combined with a post-war policy of discrimination towards minority groups practiced by Soviet or proSoviet administrations. Moreover, it should be taken into account that persecution of the Jewish communities of Hungary and Slovakia during the Holocaust did not reach its peak until 1944, when the majority of the local Jews were deported to death camps; as such, in 1941-1944, the Jewish cemeteries in these countries were largely not targeted as much as those in the other project countries and continued to function for their existing communities. Furthermore, the policy of demolishing Jewish cemeteries was not practiced by the Hungarian and Slovakian regimes after WWII to the same extent same extent as in the other countries. As such, the Jewish cemeteries in these two countries are largely preserved. The high rate of preserved Jewish cemeteries in Georgia, on the other hand, can be attributed to the limited preserved historical data available about demolished cemeteries in the country (some of which the ESJF team were unable to locate, despite evidence they existed). However, in Hungary, Poland, and Lithuania, there were multiple sources allowing the team to gather relatively comprehensive data about all of the Jewish cemeteries to have existed in the countries, meaning the ratio of demolished to preserved cemeteries in these countries should be considered the most accurate of those surveyed.

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Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

Demolished cemeteries The results of the 2020-2021 project made it possible to confirm many of the assumptions regarding the destruction of cemeteries made a year earlier on a more limited sample of sites: 1. A lmost all of the preserved cemeteries have suffered some or partial destruction at some stage. 2. Most of the demolished cemeteries were destroyed in several stages. Most often, these stages included: a) partial or full destruction of the cemetery during the Nazi occupation; b) subsequent final demolition of the cemetery for construction or agriculture (in USSR or countries within the Soviet bloc) or, c) plunder of the remaining gravestones by local residents. In some countries, such as Croatia, the relocation of Jewish cemeteries (including tombstones and remains) to newly acquired plots, influenced by the expanding urban development, was common in the 19th century. 3. In more than a quarter of the preserved cemeteries, part of the original territory and the graves within it was destroyed (overbuilt or used for agriculture). Within the framework of the project, special attention was paid to cemeteries where no tombstones have been preserved, but whose territory has not been overbuilt (wastelands, wooded or overgrown areas, agricultural use). The reasons for that are: 1. There is a high probability that burials in such cemeteries are fully or partially preserved (the experience of ESJF in the study of individual cemeteries using GPR and other technologies confirms this). This means that from the point of view of Jewish religious law, the site retains the status of a cemetery. 2. W hen clearing such objects, the tombstones or their fragments hidden under vegetation, grass or a layer of earth, can be found, which allows for the future possibility of retrieval, thereby changing the status of the cemetery to “preserved”.

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Mapping and surveying: implementation and results

Demolished cemeteries that have not been built over face a high threat of destruction, since their cemetery status in many cases is not obvious either to the local administration or to the local population. The historical identification and further protection of such sites is therefore of key importance. The graph below shows the comparative rate of the demolished cemeteries which were overbuilt and those on which the burials are presumably preserved.

Non-overbuilt

Overbuilt

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Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

Protection Traditionally, the Jewish communities that used these cemeteries took responsibility for their maintenance and protection. In all of the countries studied (with the exception of Georgia), the number of Jewish communities declined drastically as a result of the Holocaust. In Lithuania, for instance, where more than 90% of the Jewish population was killed during the Holocaust, only 10 of the 179 preserved Jewish cemeteries remained in use after the war. Today, state policy concerning the protection of monuments plays a key role in the preservation of Jewish cemeteries. The role of the few remaining local Jewish communities in these areas in most of the countries surveyed is relatively small, as can be seen by the low percentage of cemeteries which are still in use. Most of the cemeteries surveyed are located in settlements where the Jewish population no longer exists. Instead, the long-term protection of these cemeteries relies on local authorities and residents taking ownership of them and working to ensure they do not fall into disrepair. Jewish organisations (both national and international) also play a role in protecting the cemeteries and seeking their recognition as protected heritage sites, but with limited resources for the upkeep and monitoring that this work necessitates, it is essential that more emphasis is placed on encouraging local communities to take stewardship of their Jewish cemeteries. The countries surveyed during the project differ radically in both the level of state protection Jewish cemeteries are afforded and the degree to which Jewish communities are involved in their preservation. In Ukraine and Georgia, there are no state programmes for the protection of Jewish cemeteries, and Jewish communities are unable to protect the sites. Physical fencing remains the only defence.

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Mapping and surveying: implementation and results

I n Poland, Hungary, and Croatia, government programs for the protection of individual Jewish cemeteries are combined with the efforts of various Jewish community structures. At the same time, many Jewish cemeteries are not included in the registers, and are practically abandoned without any form of protection. I n Slovakia, while all Jewish cemeteries have been restituted and transferred to the management of the Jewish community, the survey showed that around a quarter of the country’s Jewish cemeteries are not included into the restitution registers, and the small Jewish community is unable to provide protection for the rest. Therefore, physical fencing combined with mobilization of national and local actors and communities remains the only significant way to protect the cemeteries, especially the remote and abandoned ones. In all of the above countries, cemeteries that are not included in the registers of Jewish cemeteries and that are not demarcated as such are in particular danger. In these cases, surveying the cemeteries is the first step towards their long-term protection. In Lithuania, all Jewish cemeteries are protected by the state as historical monuments, which may partially explain why many lack physical protection such as fencing. All Jewish sections in municipal cemeteries in the described countries are protected by the state as part of the municipal cemetery. Among the 1,722 cemeteries surveyed during the project, 703 (40.8%) cemeteries are physically protected. These include 591 (34.3%) individual Jewish cemeteries and 112 (6.5%) Jewish sections in municipal cemeteries, protected by the state as part of the municipal cemetery.

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Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

At 175 cemeteries, the fencing was found to be damaged or incomplete, requiring reconstruction. 757 cemeteries (44%) have no fencing or formal delineation. Of these, 492 (28.6%) are cemeteries with preserved tombstones and 265 (15.4%) have no preserved tombstones. Considering the risks mentioned above, they are in urgent need of protection. The table on the next page shows the differences in preservation status across the project countries. The highest percentage of physically protected cemeteries can be found in Georgia (71%). This can be partially explained by the fact that in the 1960s-70s, the Jewish communities of Georgia had reached their peak and had the resources to carry out physical fencing. In Hungary, Croatia, and Slovakia, more than 50% of Jewish cemeteries are physically protected. Poland and Lithuania show a lower level of physical protection (between 30 and 40%), while the worst situation was recorded in Ukraine (26%). The highest rate of cemeteries without physical protection can be found in Lithuania (62%), where the cemetery sites are protected by law. It is followed by Ukraine, where 52% of cemeteries are in urgent need of protection. In Slovakia and Poland, fewer than half (43%) of Jewish cemeteries are unfenced; in Hungary, 37% of cemeteries are in urgent need of protection; in Croatia, 27% are in urgent need of protection, and Georgia has the lowest percentage of at risk sites, at 19%.

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Mapping and surveying: implementation and results

Require urgent protection - Demolished and not overbuilt Require urgent protection - Unfenced

Protected Jewish cemeteries Overbuilt Jewish sections within municipal cemeteries 35


3D models used for fencing project development


3. Data processing

A

fter questionnaires containing raw survey data are submitted by field teams, they need to be cross-checked against a variety of sources to verify that all information is correct. This process (what we refer to as “survey data editing”) is carried out by trained historians who synthesise survey information for use in the openaccess database. Every surveyed site is carefully catalogued along with accompanying photos, data points, and historical overviews that are proofread by a copyeditor. Data processing steps: 1. Editing survey data 2. Sorting photographs and video footage 3. Producing 3D models for non-demolished sites 4. Compiling database entries 5. Proofreading language by a native English speaker 6. Uploading data to the open-access database

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Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

The challenges of this part of the work lie mainly in streamlining the many steps and expertise necessary for the production of database entries. As surveys need to move fast in order to reach such a high target number, there is no chance of retaking surveys in case of uncertainties such as the date of tombstones and ownership of a site. If possible, additional research is conducted by our in-house historians while editing the questionnaires. The final uploading is done manually, which takes considerable time as well. As was the case last year, the final entries produced in the course of this pilot were uploaded only around and after the closure of the project itself. Previously, survey data editing was conducted in-house by the ESJF historical department. However, due to the large volume of data that required processing in the spring resulting from the pandemic restrictions in the earlier phase of the project, we hired several researchers to supplement the work of our staff. In addition to standard ground photographs of all surveyed sites, non-demolished cemeteries with a high urgency for physical protection were developed into 3D models using geotag imagery of visual data and point clouds. The purpose of 3D models is to accurately document the conditions and the boundaries of the site and provide an analysis of the terrain, thereby supporting any potential protection project. Fences, for instance, can be constructed in a more cost-effective and time efficient manner with the help of 3D models, as they help estimate the amount of building material required. They also act as a tool in the mobilisation and awareness-raising among key stakeholders of the vulnerability of these sites. ESJF’s 3D models have been shared with mayors, regional governors, and private donors, and displayed in numerous presentations.

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Data processing

Historical overviews One significant way in which this pilot differed from the previous year was in our gathering of historical overviews for each cemetery site. An overview typically consists of several paragraphs briefly outlining the history of the cemetery and the local Jewish community, while providing essential context for the cemetery’s emergence and development. These entries are designed for a broad readership while adhering to the standards of accuracy of scientific work. In the previous pilot, we engaged historians within the ESJF network to produce these short texts. This year, in order to ensure additional academic rigour and local knowledge, we put this work out to tender, for which we received eleven applications. Below are the four international research institutions with whom contracts were engaged: Institution

Headquarters

Assigned Countries

International Yiddish Center at the World Jewish Congress

Vilnius

Lithuania

Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre/FODZ

Lublin

Poland

Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives (MILEV)

Budapest

Hungary

MAGHID/Jewish Heritage Moldova

Chisinau*

Ukraine (partial list)

*We hired a Moldova-based organisation to write overviews for part of Ukraine based on our positive experience working with them previously and their demonstrated knowledge of the region.

39


Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

Historians with specialized knowledge of certain countries and/or regions (Croatia, Slovakia, Georgia, and southern Ukraine including Crimea) were also involved in compiling the overviews. For example, Crimea, which has a large historic Rabbinic Jewish presence, is also the ancestral homeland of Crimean Karaite Jews. As such, its unique Jewish history required the attention of historians specialising in this region. To ensure uniformity and correct grammar and syntax throughout, native English speakers proofread and copyedited all entries.

40


41


The ESJF survey marker at the Dampalo 42 Jewish Cemetery in Tbilisi, Georgia.


4. C ooperation and stakeholder engagement

A

vital aspect of long-term protection is creating positive rapport with local authorities, identifying proactive leaders who are willing to take on the role of guardians, and developing the legal and institutional settings to guarantee the support these vulnerable sites require. Just as vital is outreach to local communities, civil society and grassroots organisations who often take it upon themselves to save cemeteries and whose work could be connected to other stakeholders such as descendants and foreign-based NGOs. The ESJF shares stories of cooperation on social media, on the project website, and in our Catalogue of Best Practices for Jewish Cemetery Preservation. Although the pandemic limited some potential stakeholder engagement opportunities, significant developments were made nonetheless. Throughout the course of the second pilot, the ESJF signed cooperation agreements with the Jewish communities of Hungary and Slovakia, worked with the Jewish community of Croatia and Croatian Ministry of Culture, and connected with numerous lay leaders in all project countries to build essential rapport and raise awareness of our project on the ground.

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Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

Below are a few highlights from our experience cooperating with stakeholders: he unique Jewish communal landscape in Hungary compelled us to T hire a Jewish community engagement officer to serve as a liaison to the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (MAZSIHISZ), the representative organ of local Jewry. The engagement officer had extensive prior experience with MAZSIHISZ, and in addition to supporting the survey process by alerting caretakers when a survey was scheduled to take place, she helped raise awareness of the project among municipal and federal authorities. mong the engaged parties were the Deputy Secretary of State A and the Chairman of the Public Foundation of Jewish Heritage in Hungary (MAZSÖK). Both expressed interest in survey results upon receiving updates on ESJF activities in the country. A total of eleven mayors proved to be unaware of the existence of a Jewish cemetery in their town or village. Two mayors from the towns of Lónya and Fényeslitke expressed a commitment to protecting their local cemeteries upon being informed of their existence by ESJF. In Croatia, the Ministry of Culture offered essential support by connecting us with the University of Zagreb, where two accomplished graduate students within the Anthropology and Jewish Studies departments were recruited to conduct surveys.

44


Cooperation and stakeholder engagement

We held several productive meetings with the Jewish Community of Zagreb, including one with the Israeli Ambassador to Croatia, wherein we discussed the project goals and desired outcomes. All engaged parties agreed upon the importance of the project and expressed a desire to be involved with our continuing activities. During the project, we were contacted by Dr. Srđan Matić, a World Health Organization representative and former Secretary General of the Jewish Community of Zagreb who expressed interest in volunteering. Dr. Matić is a preeminent scholar on the topic of Jewish cemeteries and heritage in Croatia, and his insights have proven invaluable to the project. The United Jewish Communities of Ukraine partnered with ESJF utilising our open-access database to locate and install new memorial stelas at four Jewish cemeteries in Zaporizhzhia Oblast: Pryyutne, Solodkovodne, Novodarivka, and Novozlatopil, each of which were once maintained by small Jewish agricultural communities. In the wake of the Shoah, these communities had been virtually wiped out, with only the Solodkovodne Jewish cemetery containing any post-war tombstones. After decades of neglect, the cemeteries were at risk of disappearance, but the new memorial stelas will help preserve them for future visitors. This work represents exactly why our database exists, and we are proud to have played a role in keeping the memory of these communities alive.

45


Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

The new memorial stelas in Novogarodka and Priyutnoye, installed by the United Jewish Communities of Ukraine with guidance from the ESJF.

Raising awareness on the ground Where possible, ESJF surveyors were encouraged to engage with cemetery caretakers and local community members to: 1) inform about and raise awareness of the project, 2) build rapport, and 3) gather information that may be critical for our research. Occasionally, these informal exchanges yielded very useful historical information. In addition to these direct exchanges, each surveyed site was marked with a printed marker to inform visitors and passers-by about the survey and the organisational/

46


Cooperation and stakeholder engagement

funding background. Bilingual markers are produced for each project country in the local language and in English. Surveyors informed the sites’ owners, often municipal authorities, about their actions and requested them to allow us to place these markers on-site. It is crucial to do this in cases where the cemetery is demolished and there is no apparent sign of its existence, or when the site is unprotected. As a sign of care, attention and recognition, these markers have brought us many supporters and future donors, often on their quest of finding ancestral graves. The English-language version of the marker reads: This Jewish cemetery was surveyed by the ESJF European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative in [YEAR] as part of the pilot project “Preserving the Jewish Cemeteries of Europe (EAC/S10/2019)” co-financed by the European Union. Engaging local and regional authorities Surveys needed to move along fast: to keep with project targets, each survey team aimed to survey between 3-5 sites a day. Local authorities were approached at each site visit, establishing an initial link, while the work of building rapport and exploring possible forms of cooperation was continued by our senior management. Mayors, local politicians, and Jewish community leaders have often been keen to offer their support and we observed a snowball effect within regions where the ESJF has previously fenced sites. Similarly, in Slovakia and Croatia, where the ESJF was yet to be involved in direct protection projects, the survey work led the Jewish communities in these respective countries to approach ESJF to explore the possibility of long-term cooperation. Moving forward we aspire to strengthen support in areas where ESJF has previously worked, as well as establish new initiatives for cemetery protection in countries where we have not worked previously.

47


Guided tour of Debrecen Jewish cemetery during the teacher training seminar in Hungary.


5. Education events

U

nder the leadership of Centropa, the consortium organised seven interactive training seminars for 250 teachers in seven countries, in which experts gave lectures and guided tours of local Jewish cemeteries and led workshops on how to read epitaphs. The consortium also conducted a youth storytelling competition and a call for teacher lesson plans in each of the project countries. The results from both the competition and call for lesson plans can be viewed on the project website at https://www.esjf-surveys.org/events-page.

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Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

Seminars summary When teacher training seminars were postponed in the spring of 2020, we focused on adapting our lesson plans to an online webinar format to prepare for the possibility of continued COVID restrictions. While we were able to conduct the initial five seminars entirely in-person, the last two seminars (Ukraine and Georgia) were converted to an online webinar format. We adapted the format by reducing the programming time from two full days to two 150 minute online sessions. All seminars followed the same general structure, as outlined below: 1. As a pre-seminar assignment, participants were asked to research Jewish

cemeteries in their home cities and towns and bring their findings to the first session. 2. Following icebreakers, a scholar gave a lecture on the Jewish history in that

country. 3. Centropa presented its database of personal Jewish stories, including

thousands of artefacts with accompanying practical exercises. 4. Participants took part in a workshop where they learned how to read matzevot

(gravestones) and integrate these tools into their curricula. 5. After the workshop, participants went on a walking (or virtual) tour tracing local

Jewish history, including a stop at a cemetery. There, they explored tombstones and practiced reading Hebrew epitaphs. 6. Once back in the classroom, Centropa screened a short film about Jewish life

and the Holocaust in that country (in-person only). 7.

50

The seminars concluded with an introduction to the project´s youth competition with practical tips for creating a multimedia project on Jewish cemeteries.


Education events

Total

Cities

Participants

Represented

23-24 August, 2020

30

20

25-56 August, 2020

31

15

13-14 September, 2020

28

14

City/ Country

Date

Krakow, Poland Kaunas, Lithuania Zagreb and Karlovac, Croatia Banska Bystrica, Slovakia Debrecen, Hungary

Ukraine (online)

Tbilisi, Georgia (online)

Institutions represented Galicia Jewish Museum and Centrum Foundation Judaic Department of the Lithuanian National Library Hebrew University of Jerusalem Museum of the Slovak

13-14 September, 2020

35

19

National Uprising and Central European University

18-19 October, 2020

31

11

24-25 November, 2020

59

29

1-2 December, 2020

Debrecen Jewish Community Kyiv National University of Culture and Art Georgian National

54

29

Museum, University of Georgia, Hillel Tbilisi

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Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

Teachers who participated in the in-person training programmes responded most positively to excursions, hands-on workshops on Jewish heritage, and group work. Teachers also responded positively to the idea of including an element of memorialisation when incorporating Jewish cemeteries in education. Participants welcomed the handbook Jewish Cemeteries in the Classroom: An ESJF Guide, but required more printed information in their local languages on cemeteries. Since the seminars took place, the ESJF has translated the handbooks into Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Hungarian, Polish, and Slovak, and translations into Georgian and Croatian are in progress. Youth storytelling competition Under the leadership of Centropa, the consortium organised a digital storytelling competition in the seven project countries for local youth to research their town’s Jewish cemetery and present their findings in one of three creative ways: a short film, online brochure, or website. By learning about their town’s Jewish history and the stories behind the places they pass every day, students become active stakeholders of their heritage, understanding that Jewish history is an integral part of their own local history, and how it is relevant for them today. Centropa created a detailed guideline for the competition which was translated and distributed by our country coordinators in each of the seven project countries. The guidelines included information on the three project categories, the rules of the competition, resource suggestions, and tips on how to write a script or create a storyboard. Throughout the competition, the help of our local coordinators was essential, as they regularly maintained contact with their teacher networks by calling them to counsel their questions, coordinating online talks with practitioners, and organising photography workshops in which the participants learned how to use photography in education.

52


Education events

In spite of the difficulties of the pandemic, we received 98 submissions to the competition. The entries were evaluated by an international jury: teachers, Jewish history experts, as well as representatives from the ESJF and Centropa. The winners were announced during an online awards ceremony that was held online on June 4th, 2021, for which more than 150 teachers and students registered. The results of the competition are available on the project website at www.esjf-surveys.org/events-page Teacher lesson plans Prior to this project, Jewish cemeteries had, by and large, not been part of official school curricula in any of the countries where we conducted our teacher trainings. Where Jewish cemeteries had been integrated into school curricula, it was typically within the framework of Holocaust education. One of the goals of the teacher training seminars was to illustrate that Jewish life thrived for many generations prior to the Holocaust. In advocating for the protection and study of Jewish cemeteries, we emphasised their significance not only to Jewish communities, but as sites of shared material heritage. In order to further incorporate Jewish cemeteries in classroom teaching, we announced an open call for lesson plan submissions that targeted classroom teachers in Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Georgia, Croatia, Hungary and Lithuania. We received a total of 92 lesson plans written by teachers in these seven countries. Each was reviewed and edited by our coordinators and staff from Centropa and ESJF before they were uploaded onto the project website. The call for lesson plans invited teachers to design a lesson for primary or secondary school students featuring a Jewish cemetery in their country of residence. Teachers were required to follow guidelines for format and structure, make use of reputable databases such as the ESJF survey website, and include important background information pertaining to goals, impact, and transferability of the lesson.

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Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

Given the interest in lesson plans of a multidisciplinary nature, we feel that school curricula may benefit from greater integration of local Jewish history with cemeteries as one possible entry point, with the intention of generating interest in local Jewish history rather than restricting it to the context of the Holocaust. For guidance on how to implement such lesson plans, we recommend that teachers take advantage of our resource Jewish Cemeteries in the Classroom: An ESJF Guide, available on the ESJF project website.

A still from the winning film submission from Lithuania.

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55


Page from the ESJF website

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6. Communications and media strategy

C

ommunications play a vital role in many aspects of the action: raising awareness, generating fundraising opportunities for continued preservation efforts, and connecting stakeholders. Given the project language is English, our social media and project website are operated in English. However, we work with partners in our project countries to distribute news in their respective local languages. ESJF is a multilingual organisation, and between in-house expertise and our in-country coordinators, we are able to produce communication materials in English, Croatian, Georgian, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Polish, Slovak, and Ukrainian. The communication and media strategy of the Pilot project rests on four pillars: 1. The project website 2. Social media engagement 3. National and international media 4. Publicity materials

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Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

While much of our survey work takes place in remote and rural locales, they are of interest to an international community. Local media has posed difficulties in particular, given it requires an awareness of specific media landscapes which even our national partners sometimes lacked, as well as a very high turnover of information, with 3-4 sites often being surveyed in a single day. The communications and media officer wrote press releases in English, which were then translated by our national coordinators. Due to the scale and pace of the project, we have also focused on national media, and heavily relied on social media to broadcast our work. Given the action is being carried out by a consortium of three different organisations, extra attention needed to be paid to streamlining internal communications efforts between ESJF, Centropa, and the Foundation for Jewish Heritage, as well as ensuring external communications remained clear and consistent between the three partners. The project website The ESJF surveys website (http://esjf-surveys.org) was initially produced within the framework of ESJF’s 2018-2020 European Commission-funded pilot project ‘Protecting the Jewish Cemeteries of Europe’, principally to host the ESJF surveys database. However, under the framework of the current action, it was decided that a new website was needed to accommodate a more user-friendly version of the database, including an improved search function, an interactive map of the surveys, and browserbased 3D models. After undergoing multiple stages of design and testing (see page pages 67-68), the new website was launched in M15 of the action. The website is regularly updated with news items about key events pertaining to the consortium’s efforts, such as educational events and new rounds of surveys, while also tracking ESJF’s mentions in local and international news media, providing visitors with

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Communications and media strategy

a comprehensive understanding not just of ESJF but of the work of the consortium within the framework of the pilot project. Social media engagement Social media plays a crucial role in the ESJF communication strategy in the pilot project. It is the most effective means by which ESJF has been able to build a following, share the work of partners, and communicate with our target audience, through the use of a diverse range of engaging content. The main channel through which ESJF conducts its social media is Facebook, while a Twitter page, YouTube channel, and LinkedIn site are also maintained. Facebook is the principal social media channel used by ESJF to engage with our audience, through regular updates about our surveying and educational efforts, as well as to promote the work of our partners at Centropa. While our goal for Facebook posts has always been one per day, the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic on our surveying and educational activities resulted in a reduced number of posts in M4-M7 of the action, during the peak months of the first wave. However, once educational events and surveys began to take place, the rate increased. We regularly monitor the kind of posts which are met with higher engagement and adjust our communications accordingly.

Total Number of Page Likes

13 Dec 2019 (M1)

13 Sep 2020 (M9)

13 Jul 2021 (M18)

Total Growth

2,061

2,333

2,582

25.3%

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Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

In adherence to the ESJF motto, ‘Fences alone do not protect cemeteries – people do’, we focus on sharing the work of the individuals who have devoted their time and efforts to protecting Jewish cemeteries: ESJF staff, volunteers, local authorities, and partner organisations. Moreover, we respond promptly to queries made through our page. Through this approach, we have been able to develop a devoted community of followers, and our Facebook page has proven to be one of the principal avenues through which people discover our work or reach out with inquiries about donations and support. In M7 of the action, the consortium decided that our shared communications would benefit from the creation of a new consortium Facebook page, devoted exclusively to updates and announcements within the framework of the pilot project. As such, a new social media page was set up: ‘Rescue by Recognition — Mapping the Jewish Cemeteries of Europe’.

The logo for our project-specific Facebook page

The page, which was launched in M9 of the action, is run jointly by ESJF and Centropa, and features regular updates about the consortium’s educational and survey work. In order to counter the difficulty of acquiring a following from scratch, ESJF implemented the strategy of posting all announcements related to the pilot project on the new page before sharing them on the primary ESJF Facebook account. This allowed us to increase exposure and provide more in-depth explanations of our work on the new account while clearly delineating the functions of each page. Centropa’s social media manager is also an admin of the account and provided updates specific to the educational side of the project. Since launching, the page has shown consistent growth, and has 293 followers as of M18. Twitter (@ESJFcemeteries) was adopted by ESJF during the timeline of the previous pilot project and has been used primarily for professional networking and project

60


Communications and media strategy

updates. Thus far, it has led to fruitful conversations with other non-profits, helping to expand upon our current network. Throughout the course of the action, we have aimed to post multiple times per week on the ESJF Twitter account. Through this increased activity, the page has seen a rise in followers from 202 at M1 of the action to 461 at M18, representing a growth of 78%. Centropa media summary While the majority of the communications related to the action are carried out on the ESJF surveys website, Centropa also uses its own website to promote upcoming seminars (https://www.seminars.centropa.org/upcoming-seminars) and share educational materials, such as the Centropa documentaries which were screened at the seminars. By working with its network of partners, Centropa has also been able to ensure that seminars are promoted on the websites of local partner organisations, such as Museum SNP in Slovakia, as well as The Centre for Tolerance, Ministry of Science and Education, and Jasenovac Public Institute Memorial Site in Croatia. Centropa carry out their project-related communications across a variety of social media channels, and currently operate multiple Facebook pages, an Instagram account, and a Twitter account. Facebook is the primary social media channel used by Centropa, with which they communicate with a vast network of educational professionals. The majority of their communications related to the action were carried out through their main Facebook page (facebook.com/Centropa.org), where they post regular updates about the seminars. As of M18, these posts have an average reach of 1,665 and the page has more than 6,500 followers. Centropa have also created events for each upcoming seminar, with links to the application forms, which are then shared on their primary Facebook page. As a multinational operation, Centropa also runs a Hungarian language Facebook page (facebook.com/centropa.hu), posting regular updates about project-related events for their followers in the country.

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Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

Publicity tools: videos and brochures The ESJF has produced a number of bilingual promotional leaflets to advertise upcoming shared educational programmes with Centropa, which have been distributed among educational institutions and potential partners by our national coordinators, as well as being printed and distributed at consortium educational events, along with copies of the educational handbook Jewish Cemeteries in the Classroom: an ESJF Guide, produced within the framework of ESJF’s 2018-20 European Commission-funded pilot project. Moreover, the short ESJF documentary “ESJF and the Mission to Save Jewish Cemeteries 2019”, produced in the framework of the previous pilot project, has been translated and subtitled in the different project languages for screening at the educational events run by ESJF and Centropa. Selected media coverage about the pilot project With every major project milestone, particularly at the commencement of surveys in countries and regions, ESJF distribute press releases. Due to the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, surveying and educational activities needed to be postponed. As such, media coverage of the consortium’s activities was limited during M1-M9 of the action. However, after the beginning of surveys, the consortium’s educational events, and the Youth Storytelling Competition, the consortium were able to attract coverage from various media outlets on an international, national, and local level.

62


Communications and media strategy

International media lmost half of Jewish cemeteries in Europe in need of protection – A survey, (a report covering the findings of ESJF’s surveys), Jerusalem Post, 20/07/21 early half of Jewish cemeteries in Europe are falling apart, (an interview N with ESJF media officer Sean McLeod regarding the final results of ESJF’s surveys), Gulf News, 16/07/21 atalogue of Best Practices for Jewish Cemetery Preservation Published, C (a report on the publication of ESJF’s Catalogue of Best Practices for Jewish Cemetery Preservation, produced in the framework of the action), Heritage Tribune, 15/07/21 National media sidó temetők felméréséhez toboroznak kutatókat, (an article about Z tenders for historical overviews and upcoming ground and drone surveys in Hungary), NeoKohn (the most popular outlet for Hungarian Jewish news), 08/09/20 ideo segment on ESJF/Centropa joint teacher training event in Banská V Bystrica, (a two-minute long news segment on the consortium’s teacher training event in Slovakia, featuring an interview with Slovakian Education Minister Branislav Gröhling), RTVS (the Slovakian state broadcasting service)

63


Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

Ещё не поздно, (an article on ESJF’s webinar, ‘Mapping and Protecting

Moldova’s Jewish Cemeteries), Nash Golos (a Moldovan Jewish newspaper), 29/01/21 Local media Zsidó emlékhelyek az oktatásban – Debreceni tanárképző szeminárium az ESJF és a Centropa szervezésében, (an article about the upcoming ESJF/Centropa teacher training event in Debrecen), Debreciner (a Hungarian newspaper focusing on affairs in Debrecen), 14/10/20 gy közösség nyomában – nyíregyházi diák díjnyertes filmje, (an article E on the Hungarian winner of our Youth Digital Storytelling Competition), Szon (a Hungarian newspaper focusing on affairs in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg), 13/06/21 SJF baigia žydų kapinių tyrimus (ant žemės ir naudojantis dronais) E Lietuvoje, (an article on ESJF’s surveys finishing in Lithuania), Kvitrina (a Lithuanian newspaper covering affairs in Prienai and Birštonas), 09/01/21 ukces w międzynarodowym konkursie. Uczennica „Ekonomika” S na podium ZDJĘCIA (an article on the Polish winner of our Youth Digital Storytelling Competition), Fakty Kaliskie (a Polish news service covering affairs in the Wielkopolskie Voivodeship, 11/06/21 В Дніпропетровській області проведено обстеження вцілілих єврейських кладовищ, (an article on ESJF’s cemetery surveys in the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast of Ukraine), Prostir (a Ukrainian website covering the work of NGOs), 07/11/20 adviliškio rajone pradėti žydų kapinių tyrimai, (an article on the beginning R of ESJF’s surveys in the Radviliškis region of Lithuania), Radviliskio Naujienos (a Lithuanian newspaper covering affairs in the Radviliškis region), 27/10/20

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65


Screenshot from the project website

66


7. The project website, database, and 3D models

T

Pre-planning for the website

he project website (www.esjf-surveys.org) has been fully operational since April 2019. Upon winning the second pilot project in February 2020, the ESJF requested the site to remain a joint website of the two pilots to prevent fragmentation of cumulative survey results. In M3-M4 of the action, a new project website plan was developed by the winning consortium, and a search started for a suitable developer. The key goals of the redevelopment work were to preserve the old project website, enhance the visual display of the database and its searchability, improve the map display of surveys, explore methodology to display 3D models on the site, and develop a space for the news, deliverables and other materials of EAC/S10/2019. Though initially projected for M9 of the action, the website launch date was ultimately delayed due to a change of vision. Originally, the update was planned and budgeted as a touch-up and restructuring of the existing website to include the new consortium partners. However, during the kickoff meeting it was mutually decided that the database

67


Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

would operate best as an interactive map-based platform. This decision necessitated an overhaul of the database structure, which was decidedly more costly, while our budget remained the same. Thus our search for a developer was limited by budget constraints and took considerably more time. The renewed website was officially launched in M15 of the action after a period of planning and development work that coincided with the closure of the first pilot. Since launching in M15 until the end of the grant period in M19, the new website garnered 4,961 unique visits. The landing page features at-a-glance information on the first two pilot projects including recent news updates. Header links direct visitors to the Surveys, Education, and Local Engagement sections of the website, which delve into the main deliverables of the project, as described in the sections below. Survey database Survey data, once processed, is uploaded into an open-access English language database on the project website. The database is located under the ‘Surveys’ menu of the project website. This section provides a brief overview of the surveys and mapping carried out within the two pilot projects. It features an interactive map of all surveyed cemeteries that can be searched by cemetery name, partial name (i.e. an abbreviated part of the name), or keyword in conjunction with geographical location. The map can also be manually searched by clicking directly on the region where a cemetery is located, revealing all surveyed cemeteries as colour-coded plot points. The colours, presented in a bar chart/key at the top-right of the page, denote the level of threat each site is under, as defined by our taxonomy addressing the urgency of protection measures:

68


The project website, database, and 3D models

1

2

3

4

5

1 - Demolished and overbuilt Jewish cemetery 2 - Demolished Jewish cemetery that has not been built over 3 - Unfenced Jewish cemetery 4 - Jewish section [within a municipal cemetery] 5 - Fenced and protected Jewish cemetery Partial name spelling is essential for this type of search engine because an individual might know the pronunciation of a cemetery without knowing its official spelling or transliteration. If the general location of a cemetery is known, one can search for it by entering only part of the name; for instance searching “cher” for “Cherkasy.” The search results will yield all cemetery names containing the letter combination “cher,” as well as all cemeteries with historical overviews containing the letter combination “cher.” The results can be further narrowed down geographically, using the “Country” and “Region” dropdown menus provided in the search function, or by applying a filter based on cemetery condition by clicking on the respective colour in the bar chart pictured above. Once a cemetery has been identified, clicking “Learn more” will reveal its unique database entry page, containing the following information: Address GPS coordinates

69


Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

Perimeter length Type and height of existing fence (if applicable) General site condition Number of gravestones ate of the oldest and newest tombstone D (when possible to establish) Urgency of fencing Ownership Any preserved building on the cemetery area Whether surveys were conducted with or without drone Clicking on each database entry shows aerial photos of the site acquired through drone surveys, photos taken by surveyors on the ground, and, when available, old maps showing the site. A perimeter map delineates the exact location and boundaries of each cemetery. Technical process for 3D model rendering After taking inventory of our existing resources, ESJF began a rigorous search for possible technical solutions that would facilitate the display of 3D models in a web browser. A critical factor in this search was the availability of licensing that would allow the use of open-source software. ESJF found several suitable options that met these specified criteria. Before making a decision, our technical staff performed several tests with existing 3D model files, ultimately selecting a module that allows users to display 3D models on web browsers as well as mobile devices. This practical solution is advantageous

70


The project website, database, and 3D models

for several reasons: it 1) does not require conversion of file formats to a different coordinate system; 2) displays 3D models in relatively high resolution compared with other modules; and 3) saves server resources by uploading the models directly to the user’s browser rather than on rented hosting equipment. The models were further optimised in .LAZ format, which reduces the size of the files and increases their upload speed. In order to ensure that the display interface did not interfere with the site’s existing architecture, we created a separate web page for model rendering, accessible via hyperlink from the individual cemetery page in the database (the hyperlink “View 3D Model” is available at the bottom of the entry page). It is important to note that only database entries for non-demolished cemeteries are equipped with 3D models. The model rendering page features several toggle elements that allow users to control and rotate it in orbital directions:

Screenshot of the Korsun Shevchenkivskyy Jewish Cemetery in Ukraine

71


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8. Best practices collection and publication

T

he pilot project yielded a wealth of knowledge about best practices in regions where surveys and educational events were conducted. In order to promote these findings, the grant foresaw the production of a Catalogue of Best Practices for Jewish Cemetery Preservation, an extensive guide to preservation initiatives from across all project countries, from small-scale interventions by local residents to transnational partnerships. The Catalogue presents good examples and blueprints of action, serving as a useful point of reference for policy makers and a guide for lay leaders interested in taking on projects of their own. The original proposal for the catalogue was an assessment of existing models of heritage-based local cooperation in similar projects, both EU and externally funded. The action gathered methods and processes that have worked efficiently and reached the intended objective in the locations examined. These examples were developed into 44 short summaries and narratives taken from each of the target countries (including Greece and Moldova from the previous pilot) and across a variety of settlement types. The Catalogue serves as a useful point of reference for policy makers and lay leaders on a local and national level in all project countries.

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Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

Methodology and gathering process To ensure that the case studies showcased were wide-reaching and diverse, we cast a wide net in our gathering process, interviewing numerous stakeholders including community leaders, academic experts, and local authorities to compile a master list of best practices. Next, we culled from the master list, using the following set of criteria to guide our thinking: 1. Diversity, not only in terms of culture and geography, but also the type of initiative described (public sector, nonprofit/NGO, academia, etc.). We tried to showcase a range of public, private, and grassroots initiatives, even though in many cases these categories overlap. 2. Transferability, i.e. the likelihood or ability of a particular initiative to be carried out in another country or region. An initiative would not be considered highly transferable if its success was contingent upon having existing infrastructure to carry it out. The majority of the initiatives in this catalogue can be transferred and recreated in numerous countries, using whatever resources are available locally. 3. Impact, measured by how successfully an initiative was carried out and the response it generated from local and international communities. 4. Sustainability. By contacting organisers and examining online resources, we determined which initiatives were continuously functioning and chose to include those over “one-off” projects. 5. L astly, uniqueness was included among our criteria to counterbalance transferability. Whereas a cemetery cleanup can be carried out in any country, aspects of it can always be tailored to the needs of a local community. For example, many cemetery cleanups featured here were complemented by culturally specific educational activities that set them apart from other cleanups. Likewise, digital cemetery projects come in a variety of formats that distinguish them from more traditional preservation initiatives.

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Best practices collection and publication

The case studies were organized into five categories: Individual/Grassroots Initiatives, Non-profit and Non-governmental Organisations, Government and Public Sector, Academia, Jewish Community, Multinational Initiatives, and Digital Projects. We strived to amplify community voices by relying on our country coordinators to recommend smaller-scale initiatives that may have otherwise been overlooked. The best practices selected by country coordinators first underwent a nomination process wherein they conducted research and suggested 3-5 leaders and practitioners in the field of cemetery preservation from their own countries. The nominees were narrowed down to 1-2 per country and assigned to the country coordinators to interview. The narratives that were produced constitute the Voices from the Community section, which serves as a counterbalance to the Selected Best Practices at the front of the catalogue in that it puts a human face on case studies through first-person accounts and portraits. ​​Education section and conclusion Working with Centropa, we selected outstanding entries from the Youth Digital Storytelling Competition to be featured in the catalogue, with one winning entry for each project country. When viewed as a PDF, the titles of each entry are hyperlinked and directly accessible in a web browser. In addition, rather than including winning teacher lesson plans in full, we provided a summary of selected lesson plans and a hyperlink where they can be accessed on the project website. The introduction to the education section provides a short overview of the activities conducted within the framework of the pilot. Finally, the catalogue concludes with a “Lessons Learned” section that summarises the main takeaways of the best practices, and the common characteristics shared by successful initiatives:

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Pilot Project Protecting Jewish Cemeteries. 2019-2021

A clearly defined mission. ormal partnerships with stakeholders, sometimes reflecting public-private F collaboration. ngagement of local people and youth, cultivating local agency and E ownership. A n educational component that highlights the Jewish dimension of local history while promoting diversity, tolerance, and intercultural dialogue. S trong governmental support and/or recognition of cemeteries as national heritage sites. An element of memorialisation and documentation/research. Our hope for this catalogue is to inspire others to launch cemetery preservation projects of their own, either by using existing projects as a model or launching original initiatives. We encourage activists to use it as a resource and tool, and welcome readers to contact us with questions or comments about initiatives we overlooked that deserve recognition.

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Best practices collection and publication

Reception The Catalogue was announced in M6 of the action and has had more than 500 reads to date. The publication was promoted on social media and reshared by a number of pages, including the web portal Jewish Heritage Europe (10k+ followers). It was also featured on several online resources including Rohatyn Jewish Heritage, JewishHeritageGuide.net, and JewishEpitaphs.org. A press release from the Foundation for Jewish Heritage about the Catalogue was picked up by the European Heritage Tribune, among others.

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Hungary

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9. Conclusion and next steps

T

ogether, the two pilot projects EAC/S10/2018 and EAC/S10/2019 developed a comprehensive survey that mapped, carried out historical research, and built an openaccess database for 3,000+ Jewish cemeteries in Europe. In our research, we found and mapped cemeteries that did not exist on previous lists, and raised awareness of these cemeteries through in-person and online events. Throughout both projects we liaised with local and regional authorities and piloted a series of educational programs that engaged hundreds of participants. Extensive publications looked at best practices including the application of technology in cemetery preservation, sustainability in heritage preservation, and tourism development, while professional guides were produced for teachers, tour guides and surveyors. We accomplished all of this and more despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic. The information we gathered during this three-year period underscores the importance of our continuing work. With hundreds of cemeteries in urgent need of protection, many running the risk of disappearing altogether, stakeholders must act now to strategically intervene. Our project has demonstrated how mapping and surveying is the first step to an ongoing, multifaceted mitigation process that includes engaging

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Country Report: Ukraine. ESJF surveys, analysis and educational events, 2018-2020

existing stakeholders and cultivating potential ones. Leaders responsible for setting policy agendas are often unaware of how to implement them locally, whether in the classroom, culture sector, or on the grassroots level. As we continue to build upon the foundation that we have laid, we envision closer engagement through executive training and conferences and further sharing of good practices, focusing on the following four strategies: 1. Deepening our understanding of Jewish cemeteries as strategic cultural

heritage resources that support socio-economic development and social dialogue. 2. Raising further cross-sectoral awareness of the relevance of Jewish

cemeteries as strategic resources for social cohesion, diversity promotion, and socio-economic sustainability. 3. Building sustainable engagement on the ground, ensuring that Jewish

cemeteries are on the agenda of local and regional leadership, stakeholders in the tourism sector, and educational professionals. 4. Utilising, valorising, and further disseminating our existing, accumulated

data especially in the form of publications, improved online engagement, webbased tools, and conferences. It is our hope that by continuing to advocate, raise awareness, and conduct research on these historic sites, we will ensure their protection for future generations. We are grateful to the European Commission for supporting this important work and look forward to deepening our impact in the coming years.

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www.esjf-surveys.org INFO@ESJF-CEMETERIES.ORG

Foundation for Jewish Heritage


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