Germans seek heritage tag for Jewish graveyard

29th November 2007, Comments 0 comments

29 November 2007, Hamburg - A walled Jewish cemetery that was spared from Holocaust vandalism was opened to the public Thursday in the German port city of Hamburg and is to be proposed as a UNESCO world heritage site.

29 November 2007

Hamburg - A walled Jewish cemetery that was spared from Holocaust vandalism was opened to the public Thursday in the German port city of Hamburg and is to be proposed as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Fallen leaves from bare trees rustled among the gravestones as civic leaders attended the reopening of the Sephardic Jewish Cemetery, just a few blocks from Hamburg's red-light district.

"It's a unique archive in stone of our city's Jewish past," said mayor Ole von Beust.

It was set up at the start of the 17th century by Jews of Portuguese origin when the suburb of Altona was part of Denmark, not Germany. The Danes granted Jews privileges.

The graveyard is unusual in that it later accepted for burial Ashkenazi Jews who belonged to the Jewish tradition native to Germany. The last burial was late in the 19th century.

Hamburg plans to link up with the Sephardic cemeteries of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles to seek UNESCO recognition.

Sephardic Jews were driven out of the Iberian peninsula and settled mainly in the Arab world and Persia.

"There are so many German places seeking world heritage status that we thought a joint application would be more promising," said the Hamburg minister of culture, Karin von Welck. She did not say when the request would be made.

Details of the site, open to the public three days a week, are displayed in a small building named after rabbi Eduard Jecheskel Duckesz, who studied the community's history.

He was killed at the Nazis' Auschwitz death camp in 1944.

Hamburg scholars are carefully documenting the entire graveyard now.

"We are perpetuating his work," said von Beust.

The Nazis razed another Hamburg Jewish graveyard in the 1930s, exhuming the remains and moving them to a bigger cemetery. Jewish sites all over the city are now signposted for visitors.

AFP

Subject: German news

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