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Rescue of Funeral Architecture in NJC

Project: „Rescue of Funeral Architecture in Statically Emergency Condition in the Jewish Cemetery in Prague 3, Izraelska Street“



Information about the Grant from EEA and Norway Funds

In November 2014 Jewish Community of Prague was allocated a grant of 4 754 868,- CZK for the project „Rescue of Funeral Architecture in Statically Emergency Condition in the Jewish Cemetery in Prague 3, Izraelska Street.“ Co-financing  from own sources adds
another 1 188 717,- CZK.
Programme CZ 06 “Cultural Heritage and Contemporary Arts” supported by EEA countries Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein within Financial Mechanisms (FM 2) allows us to continue the outstanding results of the long-term promotion of Czech culture and cultural heritage using FM EEA/Norway, also known as the Norway Grants.
These grants supplemented with funding from the state budget were used particularly for the rescue, restoration, conservation and presentation of immovable cultural heritage with the total value of CZK 1 billion.
The outcomes of projects implemented within Programme Area 16 “Conservation and Revitalization of Cultural Heritage” will be sources of knowledge and education. Grants within this area will be allocated to projects meeting strict criteria, which will focus on the rescue, restoration, presentation and accessibility of movable and immovable cultural heritage in the area of museum-type collections, collection items and written cultural heritage. The strongest interest in participation is indicated in another supported field – the national heritage fund.

Project Information
Cultural and Historical Relations
The New Jewish Cemetery in Prague, district 3 – Žižkov is a significant and valuable cultural monument not only within Prague, but also within the Czech Republic. The biggest Jewish cemetery in the country dated 1890 is still in use. NJC replaced the no longer usable old Žižkov cemetery in Fibichova Street. The majority of buildings are designed in neo-Renaissance style. The ceremonial hall was designer by the architekt Bedřich Münzberger. There are many gravestones of various artistic styles, many of them created by leading Czech sculptors and architects - Jan Kotěra, ]osef Zasche or Josef Fanta. The northern wall is dedicated to family graves such as Petschek and Waldes family. There is a memorial to commemorate the victims of Terezin ghetto, a memorial of victims of sunken ship Patria and a memorial of the victims of the first transports to Lodz ghetto in October 1941. The southern wall is dedicated to the memorial plates of those, who do not have graves, because they perished in concentration capms or in uknown location. At the cemetery are buried many imporatant representatives of Jewish communities, rabbis, businessman and industrialists and also artists such as a writer Franz Kafka, poet Jiří Orten, writer Ota Pavel or director Zeno Dostál.

Locality Description
The New Jewish Cemetery (NJC) is the biggest cemetery in the Czech Republic in the area of 10 ha. It was founded in 1890. There are 5 buildings, nearly 2000 trees and the surrounding wall is 1560 meters long. NJC is opened to the public. The entrance free. There are 27 000 gravestones of high artistic value, many famous and important personalities of the Jewish community are buried here such as Franz Kafka, Max Brod, Arnost Lustig, Frantisek Gottlieb etc. Many gravestones are in a very bad condition and their epitaphs are getting more and more unreadable and many of their parts are falling apart. It is well known that mangement, maintenance and documentation of historical monuments are very specific and also very expensive activities. It is neverending work and there is never enough money.
The epitaphs are valuable and important records about the history of Prague Jewish community and also about the fate of individuals, families and their relatives. Concerning small amount of written Jewish documents that survived the II. WW, the endeavour to safe the gravestones shows to be even more important.

Project Subject and Aim
Main subject and the aim of the project is to quickly provide stabilization works of 480  leaning gravestones or lifting up collapsed ones and to provide repair and restoration of 3 family tombs, to avoid decline and destruction of arts and crafts components and their original authenticity.
The ideal, which seems almost inachievable at the moment, is to repair and restore all the gravestones and then take care of them regularly. The cemetery is such a big area and there is such a great number of the gravestones. The estimated  sum to repair and restore all of the gravestones makes 50 million CZK. Jewish Community of Prague does not have such a big amount of money itself. The costs of the works in 2015 include static stabilization, erecting, restoring, preserving and cleaning of gravestones and grave tombs represent nevertheless only a part (nearly 6 million) of the finances needed. The financial impact of the fact, that the site is protected and listed as Czech National Heritage, is that all repairs have to be done by specialists.

Project Benefit
Main benefit of the project  is to rescue a part of real estate cultural heritage – family tombs and gravestones – in their authentic appereance and to protect their damage or even total destruction, decreasing risk of the accident of visitors caused by unstable gravestones, keeping cultural-historical heritage and at not least enlarging not only Prague but also the whole country turistic attractivity. We cannot forget buried people, either members of Prague Jewish community. Their memory deserves dignified approach and keeping cemetery architecture in its original design.

Project Sustainability
The project is non-profit making and the sustainability will be paid from our own financial sources. The Jewish Community in Prague takes care for its Jewish sites systematically since 1990. This project belongs to basic and long term duties of JCP. It exists over 600 years and the potential of liquidation in nearly zero.

The project takes place in the programme period 2009 – 2014. The project began in January 2015 and will be finished in April 2016 at the latest.
The project preparation was done in 2014 – photodocumentation, choice of gravestones to be repaired and restored, tender for suppliers. Organizational works have been in progress continualy since 2014. Gravestone and thumbs works will start in March 2015 and will continue till the planned end of the project.

Project Progress and Photodocumentation

Tomb of Fuchs family before repair


 Tomb of Kubinsky family before repair

Visit the complete photogallery

16.3.2015 the site was handed over to the supplier and the works had begun.

All of 480 gravestones planned were repaired and restored as of 30.4.2016. Works such as lifting up collapsed gravestones, stabilization, gluing together damaged parts and their cleaning, repairs and restoration. The gravestone repairs in sections 003, 004, 005, 006 and 011 are completed.

In cases when there was a tree preventing repairing the gravestone from repairing, it was replaced by another nearby of similar size, type, condition and for similar cost.

On the family tomb Waldstein all planned restoration of stone parts has been finished. Chemical and mechanical cleaning was done, losened and damaged parts were reapired, copies of damaged parts were created and installed.

On the family tomb Kubinzky all planned restoration of stone parts has been finished. The surface has been cleaned, grouting and stabilization has been done, damaged parts have been complated, retouching has been done. Stone treatment has been finished.

On the family tomb Fuchs all planned restoration of stone parts has been finished.

21.10.2015 regular kontrol by the the Ministry of Finance took place.
30.3.2016 the audit by the Ministry of Finance took place.

21.4.2016 project closing ceremony with the participation of Mrs. Siri Ellen Sletner, Norway Ambassadress took place at the cemetery.

Project Manager is resonsible for the whole project, is the head of the project team. Leads and coordinates the activities of team members. Organizes supplier tender, closing contracts with suppliers and arranging invoice conditions, communication with suppliers. It is Ms. Zuzana Berankova, phone.: 00420 226 235 211, 00420 603 305 711, email: [email protected]

Project Supervisor is responsible for the technical part of the project, is deptuty to the Project Manager – is qualified and has wide decision rights within the company, supervises project works, quality and time schedule including construction works. The Supervisor is Mr. Mojmir Maly, phone.: 00420 226 235 274, 00420 604 234 136, email: [email protected]