Before World War II, more than seven million Jews lived in Central and Eastern Europe. Jews inhabited these towns and villages for centuries. Across the continent, Jewish burial sites provided direct physical evidence of this Jewish presence. Eighty years on, traces of many of these cemeteries have been lost, they lie overgrown and unprotected – the result of the annihilation of their communities in the Holocaust. Centuries of Jewish settlement in Central and Eastern Europe and critically, the historical witness and evidence of it, were driven from memory.
The ESJF project has begun the process of physically protecting Jewish burial sites in Europe, most particularly in places where Jewish communities were wiped out in the Holocaust. Moreover, it has identified resources, limitations, costs and general practical models in order to provide a prototype for a sustainable, practical and efficient long-term project with its core objective to protect and preserve all the Jewish cemeteries in Europe.