The 67 Jewish cemeteries spread around the rural area of Alsace have largely been abandoned ever since the Nazis wiped out the region’s Jewish communities during the Holocaust.
By World Israel News Staff
Twenty individuals from the southern French province of Alsace have banded together to protect the region’s Jewish cemeteries from vandalism.
In October, the Alsace regional council established the “Guardians of Memory” network to protect Jewish cemeteries that have been the target of vandalism over the past few years. They patrol the cemeteries and contact the authorities if any vandalism has been found.
The project was the brainchild of Philippe Ichter, an activist who promotes religious dialogue in the region.
“Today, there are fewer than 20,000 Jews in Alsace of a total of two million people. And since the Holocaust, there are no longer any Jews in the countryside,” he said.
The 67 Jewish cemeteries spread around the rural area of Alsace have largely been abandoned since the Nazis wiped out the region’s Jewish communities.
“You can’t put a policeman in every cemetery,” said Francis Laucher, who volunteers with his wife to guard the Jungholtz cemetery.
“We are both Alsatians to our core. And how can such things come to pass? Leave the dead in peace!” he said.
Robert Tornare and his wife’s house overlook the Jewish cemetery in Wintzenheim.
“We pay more attention than we did before,” Tornare said. “We are Catholics, but after 40 years they have become our friends.”
In February, 80 tombstones were vandalized with swastikas in the Jewish cemetery of Quatzenheim in Alsace.
French President Emmanuel Macron visited the vandalized cemetery shortly before a nationwide rally against anti-Semitism.
“Every time a French person, because he or she is Jewish, is insulted, threatened — or worse, injured or killed — the whole Republic is attacked,” Macron said at the time.