The Kovel Cemetery

Cemetery at Kovel

CQ Photo
The "new" cemetery in Kovel, 1938.

These are photos contributed by Anat Shabo Perlmutter. who visited Kovel in Sept., 2012, and said these tombstones from the "new" cemetery were found in a military camp located near the original site.

Following is a report received from Hava Buchwald, in November 2012, who was in Kovel working on a film documentary about the Jews of Kovel during the Shoah:

I travelled twice to Kovel with Elie Roubah, a filmmaker, in way to make a documentary film about my mother's family and about the Jews of Kovel.

In a film called La shoah par balles, l'histoire oubliée ("The holocaust by bullets, the forgotten story"), a French priest: le Père Desbois, who makes a tremendous work in Ukrainia, shows some tombstones he found in Kovel.

The Jewish cemetery in Kovel (called : the new cemetery) was completely destroyed by the Soviets who built on its place a "Palace of Culture." Then, they took the tombstones in way to build the pavement of a military garrison, on the other side of the road.

On our first shoot in Kovel, in October 2009, we found (after a few hours), 2-3 tombstones, hidden under bushes in the soviet garrison. During our second shoot in Kovel, in June 2011, we went back and discovered a demolition site. We met the site foreman who told us they were finding every day tombstones under the pavement and that they were building an hotel but he promised us to keep the tombstones.

After many contacts, the mayor of Kovel promised to provide a piece of land on the site of the previous Jewish cemetery, in way to put there these tombstones.

We have to organize quickly the transfer of the tombstones.

The information below was last updated in 1994 by The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies - Cemetery Project

KOVEL: US Commission No. UA02040101

Alternate names: Kowle (Polish), Kowel (English) and Kovla (Russian). Kovel is located in Volynskaya at 51º13 24º43, 70 km from Lutsk, 440 km from Kiev, and 126 km from Rovno. The cemetery is located at Vladimirskaya Street. Present town population is 25,001-100,000 with 11-100 Jews.

The earliest known Jewish community was 17th century. 1939 Jewish population (census) was 12758. The Orthodox (Sephardic) Jewish cemetery was established in 18-19th century. Gorodilets (3 km away) and Bahovets (3 km away) used this unlandmarked cemetery. The isolated urban flat land has no sign or marker. Reached by turning directly off a public road and turning directly off a private road. The access is open to all. No wall, fence, or gate surrounds site. The cemetery was levelled. Only one monument remains with more than 75% of surviving stones toppled or broken. Removed stones were incorporated into roads or structures. The cemetery had special sections for men and women but has no known mass graves. The municipality owns the site used for industrial or commercial use. Adjacent properties are commercial-industrial and residential. The cemetery boundaries are smaller now than 1939 because of commercial-industrial development. The cemetery is visited rarely by organized individual tours. The cemetery was vandalized frequently in the last ten years. There is no maintenance. No structures.

Kirjner Moisey Davidovich of Lutsk visited and completed survey on 8/8/94 with Shihman Sima. Interviewed on 8/8/94 were Gershtein Boris Matveevich, Shafeta V.N., Minich I.D. of Nezavisimosti 73 and Kluchuk.

Copyright © 2009 Bruce Drake

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