It’s a tragic fact that the mistreatment of Jews throughout history has sometimes included the use of their headstones in construction projects, from paving streets to constructing buildings. Thankfully, one city in Lithuania is reversing this shameful practice.
Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius removed the first stone from the structure housing an electricity and heating generator on Olandų Street Wednesday, the mayor‘s office said in a statement.
The generator was built by the Soviet authorities of Lithuania between 1965 and 1968, when it was part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or USSR. The headstones had been removed from a Jewish cemetery on Olandų Street.
“After 26 years as an independent country it is now the time to remove these stones, which are a clear mark of disrespect to our Jewish community,” said Šimašius. “The stones will be removed from the generator and moved to a memorial, which will be built on Olandų Street with the cooperation of Vilnius’ Jewish community.”
Vilnius Municipality also confirmed that the smaller fragments of the gravestones will be reburied in the cemetery. The headstones are to be moved to a memorial made from marble stones, which is to be built on Olandų Street. It will be finished in autumn 2016.
We salute this mayor and hope that more follow suit.