Scrapbookpages Blog

July 26, 2011

Did the Nazis use Jewish tombstones to pave roads?

Filed under: Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 10:00 am

Today I read this on the blog of a Derbyshire student who had recently visited the Auschwitz camp and the nearby town of Oswiecim:

“When the Nazis invaded Poland the cemetery (in Oswiecim) was destroyed and the gravestones were reportedly used as paving slabs. After the war someone rounded up as many of the gravestones as they could and rebuilt the cemetery.”

The operative word here is reportedly.  Who reported this?  The claim of gravestones being used as paving slabs is reminiscent of the scene in Schindler’s List which shows a road through the Plaszów labor camp that was allegedly built with tombstones.

Road made with tombstones

The photo above is from this website.  The caption reads:

Krakow – “Liban” quarry. Place, where prisoners from nazi concentration camp “Plaszow” was working…

But this is not real – this is only scenography made for movie “Schindler’s List”… Nevertheless – this is scary place…

Schindler’s List is a fictional movie, loosely based on a true story.  Here is a quote from a web site which explains the symbols and themes in Speilberg’s movie:

The road through the Plaszów labor camp, paved with headstones torn up from Jewish cemeteries, is a replica of the actual road that existed there. The road adds to the historical accuracy of the film but also symbolizes the destruction of the Jewish race. The removal of the headstones from the cemeteries represents the enormity of the Holocaust. Unsatisfied with simply wiping out existing Jews, Goeth, by planning the road, denies acknowledgement of many Jews’ final resting places. By removing the grave markers, Goeth in effect erases the existence of the dead. Moreover, Goeth forces the Jews in the camp to build the road, rubbing in their faces the fact that they, too, will soon be erased. The message is clear: the Nazis view the Jews as not worth even grave markers and want only to erase them from history.

Are there any photos of the “actual road that existed” at Plaszów?  There are plenty of old photos of the Autobahn, but I’ve never seen a photo of “an actual road” that was paved with tombstones.

Location of the former Plaszów concentration camp

In October 1998, I visited the site of the former Plaszów camp and took the photo above; it shows the spot where the barracks of the Plaszów concentration camp once stood. The camp was surrounded by houses on three sides and on the fourth side was a road, which is shown in the picture.

The camp Commandant, Amon Goeth, lived in a house that is out of camera range in the above picture; his former house is located to the right and behind a hill so that it cannot be seen from this spot. The fictional Schindler’s List movie shows Amon Goeth shooting prisoners from the balcony of his house although the camp cannot be seen from his house.

To reach the site of the former Plaszów camp, which is 10 kilometers from the city center of Krakow, my private tour guide drove up a hill on a rutted one-lane dirt road, thinly covered with small white granite rocks. Maybe that was the road that was allegedly paved with tombstones, and my tour guide neglected to mention it.

The construction of the Plaszów labor camp began in June 1942.  The photo below shows part of the fence around the camp.

Original fence posts around Plaszów camp

This quote is from a guidebook which I purchased at the Eagle Pharmacy museum in Krakow:

“According to the Heydrich plan the Plaszów camp and its sub camps were meant to constitute a stage in the concentration of the Jews deported to the East. The camp was built on the area of two cemeteries at Jerozolimska and Abrahama street. The location of the camp — near the Plaszow railroad station — made the access to communication tracks relatively easy.”

The “Heydrich plan” was a reference to the conference which SS officer Reinhard Heydrich led on January 20, 1942 at Wannsee, a suburb of Berlin. This is where plans were made for the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.”

According to my 1998 tour guide, the granite quarries near the future location of the Plaszów camp were owned by a Jew, and the Nazis confiscated his property without compensation. There was a Jewish mortuary chapel near the cemetery, which my guide told me the Nazis converted into a stable. There are many other stories of the Nazis using a Jewish place of worship as a stable.

Although crushed granite from the quarries was readily available, the Nazis allegedly desecrated Jewish graves by ripping out the tombstones, then using slabs of the broken grave stones to pave the camp road, like stepping stones in a garden.

Gravestones used for a road, as shown in Schindler’s List fictional movie  Photo Credit: http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/Europe/Poland/East/Malopolskie/Krakow/photo990498.htm

A street in the main Auschwitz camp that is paved with decomposed granite

A street in the main Auschwitz camp that is paved with decomposed granite

Close-up of a street in the main Auschwitz camp

Close-up of a street in the main Auschwitz camp

As shown in the two photos above, the streets of the Auschwitz main camp were paved with crushed granite, but according to the fictional Shindler’s List movie, the Nazis couldn’t be bothered with making a crushed granite road through the Plaszów camp.   Now British teen-aged students are being told the story that the Oswiecim cemetery was reportedly raided for stones to pave roads in Auschwitz.

It would have required a lot of unnecessary work to pave the streets of the Plaszow camp with unbroken headstones; it is difficult to make a level path with stones of different thickness.

On my trip to Poland in 1998, I also visited the Majdanek death camp, where I purchased a guidebook, which said that the path into the camp, called “the black path,” was paved with tombstones.

I also visited a Jewish cemetery in Krakow in 1998 and again in 2005. According to my 1998 tour guide, the cemetery adjacent to the Remu’h Synagogue in Krakow was desecrated by German soldiers who used the grave stones for target practice. The broken pieces of the stones were put into a memorial wall, which the guide said is called the Wailing Wall.

Wailing Wall in Krakow is made of broken tombstones

View of the Wailing Wall from outside the cemetery

17 Comments

  1. Krotoszyn, Poland: The Polish residents were forced to desecrate the Jewish cemetery and the stones were used to pave roads and other construction. The low wall at this church was constructed with Jewish tombstones, and still remains today, though not in good repair. I wrote an article about this and have photographs that were sent to me from a correspondent in Krotoszyn. my email is netanya251@gmail.com

    Comment by Sandra S Nathan — January 9, 2017 @ 5:30 pm

  2. 9/11/2014 – Just in case anyone still reads these notes, so long after the original post, I would like to provide a bit of clarity. Jewish tombstones were not only used to pave roads, but also for construction of other buildings and miscellany. Primarily, this was done AFTER the war by both the Russian Red Army & the Communists, in places such as Warsaw, Krakow, Lviv, and Kiev (not Germany). As a matter of fact, in the Ukraine, they have only recently agreed to stop using these tombstones and pieces of tombstones in construction. Further, as recently as August 2014, organizations are still petitioning for the artifacts to be removed from the sites and returned to the Jewish people, or cemeteries. And before you ask, I’m not Jewish or associated with any organization related to the Holocaust, World War II, this website, or any of the countries discussed. I’m just a bit of a history buff.

    Comment by DDB — September 11, 2014 @ 11:16 pm

  3. Schindler’s List is not fictional. Period.

    Comment by A Tutter — January 29, 2014 @ 10:36 am

  4. I have researched the horror of what happened in concentration camps and find Holocaust deniers disgusting! I have dedicated an entire chapter “Holocaust Apparitions?” (44 pages (21 have images and proof). My father was murdered in Kamp Erika, located near the border of Germany in Holland, by Lagerführer Karel Lodewijk Diepgrond who ordered him to be buries alive in 1943 by Dutch traitors who joined the Waffen SS for pay and glory, and lived happily ever after in Germany because they were protected by Hitler’s law that gave German State Citizenship to anyone who joined the Nazi cause, a law that was never repealed by today’s German government – so much for justice and truth! The book is in the final pages of editing by the name of “RIDE TO HELL”.

    Comment by nieland1943 — October 31, 2013 @ 1:14 pm

    • My grand mother was an internment processor during the holocaust and was called as a character witness for a trial. It is a real dark day in german history I always wonder what if they had won it was the last war that pure man power over came superior technology Germany’s far superior technology was no match for the Soviet union’s and allied forces complete disregard for human life and valiantly fought based on the premise that the Nazi’s only have so many bullets

      Comment by joseph — January 5, 2016 @ 9:27 pm

  5. (to be clear, the thing I refer to in the comment below is whether Plaszlow had a road that looked like the one in the film – it’s not something I know about one way or the other)

    Comment by David Jordan — October 4, 2013 @ 7:59 pm

    • On this page of my website, the old black and white photo shows the Plaszow camp, which was inside a quarry: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Poland/Plaszow/Plaszow02.html

      The second photo on the page, cited above, shows what the quarry looks like now, after all the buildings in the camp were torn down. As you can see, there is a tall monument, that would have shown in the film if Spielberg had built his movie set in the actual place where the camp was located. Tourists cannot walk on the spot where the camp was actually located because this spot is now inside a “nature preserve.”

      Spielberg constructed a set inside a deep quarry, called the Liban quarry, that is located nearby. Inside the Liban quarry, he built a road out of tombstones, which I have shown on my blog post.

      I don’t know if this road is still there, but I know that it was left there for several years for tourists to see. In 1998, when I visited the quarry where the road was built by Spielberg, I was told by my tour guide that the road was still there, but I could not see it because the bottom of the quarry was covered by water from a recent rain. The road that was built for the movie might be gone by now.

      On my blog post, I showed a photo of the road that goes past the former Plaszow camp. This road is covered with crushed white granite. This is the original road that bordered the camp. I do not think that the granite for this road came from tombstones. There were two Jewish grave yards near where the Plaszow camp was built, but I don’t think that the tombstones were ground up to make this road.

      I think that Spielberg learned that there were two Jewish graveyards in the area, and he decided to use a road made out of tombstones in his film. If you have ever laid a garden path with flagstones, you know how hard it would be to make a road out of whole tombstones. The Nazis would not have done this. The road made of tombstones in the film is symbolic. The girl in the Red Coat is also symbolic in the film: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/what-is-the-meaning-of-the-girl-in-the-red-coat-in-schindlers-list/

      Comment by furtherglory — October 5, 2013 @ 7:36 am

  6. It’s very annoying your website comes up when I googled this to see whether the thing is true or not because you give the impression of being a holocaust denier and therefore I can’t trust anything you say, If you are not one, then you may need to think about how this blog appears. If you are one, then I urge you to look at as many sources as possible and evaluate them by their plausibility and I think you’ll find it very diffcult indeed to come to a meaningfully different conclusion to the consensus.

    Comment by David Jordan — October 4, 2013 @ 7:57 pm

    • I am sorry that my website came up in your google search. Usually, google does not put my website in the first 20 or so results. I will have to notify google that somehow a mistake was made and you were annoyed by finding my website in your results. You give the impression of being a Jew. If you are one, then you need to think about not reading my blog. If you are not one, then I urge you to look at as many sources as possible and evaluate them by their plausibility; I think you will find that the Jewish consensus is the correct conclusion.

      Please notify google ASAP that there is a glitch in their search engine, and you were annoyed by finding a website that you believe does not conform to Holocaustianity in your opinion.

      Comment by furtherglory — October 5, 2013 @ 7:55 am

  7. I think it is a horrible atrocity that has taken place in years of that war. And I hope every German involved in murdering a Jew burns in he’ll!!!

    Comment by Gregg Martin — July 6, 2013 @ 8:33 pm

    • But it’s OK for jews to kill Palestinians in present days?

      Comment by Mikael Olafsson — February 2, 2014 @ 5:34 am

      • I guess it is okay for palestinians (the invaders of Judea) to shell Jews with rockets?

        Comment by nieland1943 — February 2, 2014 @ 12:35 pm

  8. However terrible and sad are the facts of the Holocaust, I travel all over Germany and very rarely have Jewish Graveyards been desecrated. Most are completely intact since before the War and of course are today revered and cared for by their Town Verwaltung and are a pilgrimage site for friends and relatives. Anthony Keaveny,

    Comment by Anthony Keaveny — August 11, 2012 @ 2:14 pm


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