In the summer of 2008 in the Polish city of Radom between Lublin and Lodz, a crime was uncovered. After sixty-four years of lying still in their earthen grave, nearly one hundred witnesses rose again to testify. They were buried side by side, and, if it wasn’t for the Radom construction workers building a new road, they may have never been found. When the witnesses stood upright again after their long burial, each gave testimony to the day they were born and the day they died. Surprisingly, each witness was very well preserved—their faces still showing color and hue. These Polish road workers uncovered the largest single find of Jewish gravestones in recent memory. Artistically decorated and painted, this archeological discovery holds deep significance for the few remaining Jews living in Poland.
Before the Holocaust there were 3.3 million Polish Jews. After the Holocaust there were only three hundred thousand. Because of fierce post war Christian anti-Semitism, many of the survivors fled the country. After Hitler was dead and the Third Reich defeated, Jews continued to be slaughtered by baptized Christians in Poland. The hatred ran deep. Today, the contemporary Jewish population in Poland numbers between eight and ten thousand—a mere whisper of the 3.3 million prior to the gas chambers and the pogroms.
What were the gravestones doing buried horizontally side by side in the earth? After the Jewish community had been deported from cities across Poland, Polish Christians desecrated Jewish graves. Over the years, as the Christian cemeteries filled up, the boundary lines separating Jewish and Gentile burial grounds were erased. When it came time to bury a Christian the Jew was exhumed and discarded and their grave was given to the Christian.
Even in death the Jews were dispossessed of their last remaining plot of land. Over time, Christians not only confiscated the graves of Jews but found that the well-constructed gravestones came in handy for paving roads. That’s where the road workers in Radom found them – lying in the quiet stillness of a long-forgotten road, overgrown with grass and weeds. If you stroll through any given city in Poland today, at some point you might walk on the hollowed, silent gravestones of Jews – unaware.
Roads. Christianity has been paved with the bones of dead Jews. In Radom, Poland, burying Jewish gravestones was Christianity’s final attempt to remove any flickering evidence of Jewish existence. The same contempt for Jews was uncovered in the city of Norwich, England. As construction workers were excavating the earth and laying the groundwork for a new shopping mall in Norwich back in 2004, they discovered an 800-year-old well. At the bottom of the well they found the remains of seventeen people – men, women, and children – who had been thrown head- first down the cavernous hole.
Researchers have long wondered about the identity of these murdered individuals and because of advances in DNA sequencing new evidence has now come to light. The evidence was published last week in the Current Biology Scientific Journal and shows that the individuals in the well had a similar genetic ancestry to Ashkenazi Jews living today. Carbon dating shows that these Jewish individuals were murdered between 1161 and 1216 – a time period that included many Antisemitic outbreaks against Jews that were encouraged by the church. This included the massacre of Jews by Christian crusaders in the year 1190. Historian Ralph de Diceto writes about this Christian genocide of the Jews of Norwich in the medieval work, “Imagines Historiarum II”:
“Many of those who were hastening to Jerusalem determined first to rise against the Jews before they invaded the Saracens. Accordingly, on 6th of February (in 1190 AD) all the Jews who were found in their own houses at Norwich were butchered, some had taken refuge in the castle.”
Not surprisingly, the well in which the bodies of the Jews were found was in what at the time was the Jewish quarter of Norwich. What Radom, Poland and Norwich, England have in common is a dark history of Christian Antisemitism uncovered by construction workers. It doesn’t take much digging to conclude Christianity is the most lethal form of Antisemitism. In Radom, Christians exhumed Jewish bodies from Jewish cemeteries and discarded them – filling the empty graves with Christian “saints”. In Norwich, Christians sought to erase Jewish existence by throwing them into a well.
Discoveries like the gravestones in Radom and the bodies in the well in Norwich should awaken Christians to the fact that its agelong jealousy toward the Jewish people has always led to the spilling of Jewish blood. In a time of growing global Christian Antisemitism often inspired by nationalism, the crimes perpetrated by Christians and uncovered by construction workers in Radom and Norwich prove once again how far grotesque Christian arrogance toward Jews will go in order to erase Jewish existence. Let’s hope Christians will do some digging – an excavation of their souls – and remove any vestige of anti-Judaism, anti-Zionism, and antisemitism before their historical jealousy toward Jews becomes more lethal