Statement in the December 2016 Newsletter of the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe

We feel it is important in this context to emphasize the major transformation that we have recently experienced in our work after so many years of campaigning and taking action to protect Jewish graves in Europe. This fundamental change is reflected in our experiences in Lithuania over the past month (as described at length in this issue). It is impossible to describe within the limits of this publication the range of difficulties, obstructions, obstinacy and deception which was faced by our representatives in earlier years when attempting to protect Jewish graves in Lithuania. Not only was there no sympathy and understanding for our efforts to save Jewish cemeteries and graves, but our representations were often faced with ridicule. Even after being convinced of our genuine concern for these matters, our appeals were not taken seriously and all kinds of ploys and untruths were used to avoid taking meaningful action. But fortunately, times have changed. Not only does the current Lithuanian Government central leadership treat the CPJCE and its requests with seriousness and respect, but even the government departments dealing with economy, transport, interior affairs etc, all show deep consideration for Jewish cemetery protection. During the past month, the CPJCE office received an appeal for assistance from the Lithuanian authorities regarding a proposed widening of a railway track, which may possibly have encroached on the area of a Jewish mass-grave. They assured the CPJCE that they did not want to disturb the burial site and requested the CPJCE to come and establish the exact location of the grave in order to ensure that it is not affected in any way.