From film’s Director:
After more than a year’s work, I have at last finished “Park Centralny” (Central Park), a film which I am convinced will play a major role in the ongoing efforts to restore Białystok’s Jewish heritage. I sincerely believe that its screening will result in real action being taken to reconstruct Białystok’s most ancient Jewish cemetery, a place that was once an integral part of the city’s townscape.
I have managed to establish that the oldest Jewish cemetery in Białystok STILL EXISTS! This is the cemetery that was founded in 1750 and was known as the “Cmentarz Rabinacki” (The Rabbis’ Cemetery). The cemetery stood in the area which is now occupied by Białystok’s Central Park. It now lies beneath the park, buried and forgotten under a layer of sand and debris!
During the period 1952 – 1954 Białystok’s main architect was an engineer, the respected architect Michał Bałasz (who designed more than 100 churches!). This 90-year old man has now decided to tell the truth – that more than 60 years ago he decided to cover over the cemetery. This was done with the tacit agreement of the communist authorities of the time.
Engineer Bałasz has a straightforward explanation for his decision: “After the war the cemetery lay in ruins. Many people freely used it as a rubbish dump while others went there to drink alcohol. This had to be stopped somehow, so I decided to cover it over, as this was the only way to save it. I think the time has now arrived for us to excavate the place”.
According to Bałasz there are about 1,000 gravestones lying just under the surface of the ground. The film Park Centralny starts a campaign for the excavation of the cemetery and the creation of an underground lapidarium that will exist alongside the present park.
Duration: 27 minutes
Available on DVD and Blu-ray in English/Yiddish version and in all the regions.