Stefan Finding the cemetery, so all could share was nice, but your addition of fascinating history is an additional bonus. Perhaps the answer could be on aMessage 1 of 4 , Mar 2, 2012View Source
Finding the cemetery, so all could share was nice, but your addition of fascinating history is an additional bonus. Perhaps the answer could be on a Jewish link?
Thanks for this, it is our associate Prof Hubert Chudzio from the Krakow Teaching University and his students who have been going to the African cemeteries and restoring them in recent years. Each of the 149 graves has its story of course, but here are 5 particularly intriguing ones...
Look at the layout of the graves at http://polskiecmentarzewafryce.eu/images/gallery/small/3.jpg
See how they are all neatly ranged row on row, except for 5 along the right hand wall as you go in, turned at an angle and placed against the wall - graves 145, 146, 147, 148 and 149... seen in the photo at http://polskiecmentarzewafryce.eu/images/gallery/small/81.jpg
These are the graves of the Polish Jewish refugees who died at Tengeru. Were they oriented differently to the others for religious reasons? Perhaps pointing north towards Jerusalem in the Jewish practice, while the others point east-west in Christian tradition? Without any compass markings on the map, one can only speculate...
Chronologically, the first to die appears to have been Anna Koplewicz (nee Rein) on 1 May 1944, born on 26 October 1922, so dying here at the tender age of 21. http://polskiecmentarzewafryce.eu/cmentarz/1#202
Oddly, just 3 days later on 4 May 1944, another 21-year old named Anna Koplewicz also died at Tengeru and was buried, this time in plot 116 in the Christian section of the cemetery. Amazingly, the Roman Catholic Anna Koplewicz was born just 2 days after the Jewish Anna Koplewicz - on 28 October 1922 - so she outlived hernamesake by just one day. Imagine camp life for the two Anna Koplewicz girls, birthdays 2 days apart, one Catholic and one Jewish?
But there is more - a mystery... on the same day that the Catholic Anna Koplewicz died - 4 May 1944 - baby Stanisława Koplewicz also died. Clearly it was a tragic week. But even though "Stanislawa" is a very traditional Polish name, her gravestone bears a Jewish Star of David and is placed in this Jewish mini-enclave of the cemetery. Buried at the foot of the Jewish Anna, perhaps she was her daughter and the childbirth went tragically wrong.... but her birthday is marked as 2 May 1944, one day AFTER the Jewish Ana died. How is that possible?
Another mystery - the tombstone on grave 146, next to baby Stanislawa's 147 - is completely blank except for a Star of David. Perhaps it is empty, but the description given on the website (though not on the tombstone) is "NN", or "Nomen nescio" - Latin for "name not known". Is anyone actually buried there? If so, how could their name not have been known, in this perfectly organised little refugee settlement at the foot of Mount Kilimanjoro?
It is 4 years later before the last two deaths of Jewish refugees in Tengeru. First, on 18 January 1948, 5 day old Mojżesz Cukerman died and was buried, but with the grave placed at an odd orientation and with no religious symbols at all on the tombstone. If the Christian graves point east to the sunrise and the Jewish graves north to Jerusalem, then this baby's grave points towards Iran and Kazakhstan. Just a coincidence?
Finally, on 15 September 1948, doctor Henryk Wajs dies at the age of 46. A young man, does he finally succumb to one of the diseases brought in by his camp patients?
Any answers or suggstions would be most appreciated!
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [Kresy-Siberia] Polskie cmentarze w Afryce Wschodniej
From: "Lenarda Szymczak" <szymczak01@...>
Date: Fri, February 24, 2012 11:46 am
This cemetery at Tengeru is an absolute credit to the Polish People, in the way it is looked after and respected. If you click on name of deceased on the list provided, it will take you directly to grave.
Being fairly well acquainted with the Polish cemetery at Tengeru (my wife s grand-parents are buried there), I d like to give my take on the mystery of someMessage 1 of 4 , Mar 10, 2012View SourceBeing fairly well acquainted with the Polish cemetery at Tengeru (my wife's grand-parents are buried there), I'd like to give my take on the mystery of some graves, as noted by Stefan.
But I must first compliment him on his attention to detail.
To start with, I wish to make some comments on the positioning of graves in general. There seem to be no hard and fast rules, neither among Christians nor among Jews. But it is true that the large majority of graves in Europe and the USA are oriented towards the east, i.e. the Holy Land. But what is the situation in say Australia? Facing north-west?
Stefan you should know.
At the same time, graves are invariably aligned in the same direction, if only for the practical reason to save space.
Many Jews place their graves in the same direction as Christians, i.e. towards Jerusalem. At other times, the bodies in Jewish graves lie with their feet towards the entrance of the cemetery to symbolise that the deceased will leave after the resurrection.
The latter is the case at the Tengeru cemetery, although this may be pure coincidence.
The fact that the Christian and Jewish graves at Tengeru stand at an angle and are separated from one another must be have been a conscious decision of the (British) authorities of the Tengeru Settlement. Separate grave sides (other than for the military) are a normal phenomenon when members of different faiths are buried in the same place.
Of course the most intriguing is the story of the two Anna Koplewiczes who are supposedly buried at Tengeru. One under a tombstone with a Cross; the other (with the added name `née Rein') under a gravestone with the Star of David.
My guess is that something must have gone horribly wrong here with the record keeping. It seems that things were not so perfectly organised at the Polish Settlement as we may want to believe.
The name Anna Koplewicz does not appear in the Red Cross list of Polish refugees to Africa. But Anna Rein is mentioned. Her year of birth (no date mentioned) is given here as 1923.
The caption on the photograph of the grave of the Jewish Anna Koplewicz on the website http://polskiecmentarzewafryce.eu/cmentarz/1#202, mentions 26.10.22 as her date of birth. But look again: the date on her tombstone reads 28.10.22; exactly the same date on which the Christian Anna Koplewicz is supposed to have been born.
The same first and surnames. The same dates of birth. Finally, they supposedly died within a few days of one another, i.e. on 01.05 and 04.05.1944 respectively.
To my mind this is too much of a coincidence to be true. Based on this remarkable coincidence and on the fact that the name of Anna Koplewicz is missing from the Red Cross list, I can only conclude that the Christian Anna Koplewicz never existed. Her tombstone must cover the grave of another person!
There is other circumstantial evidence for my premise: the Jewish tombstone of Stanislawa Koplewicz (obviously the daughter of Anna Koplewicz née Rein). Admittedly her date of birth is given as 2.5.1944, i.e. a day after her mother died, but I attribute this again to improper record keeping. It seems logical to assume that the mother died during childbirth and her baby soon thereafter.
Another intriguing aspect, but now I move into the realm of speculation. The Red Cross List mentions the name of Samuel Rein born in 1943 who was in Tengeru. Did Anna Koplewicz née Rein have another child before, perhaps born out of wedlock? And was the father of her second child Stanislawa, a man by the name Szymon Koplewic (without the `z' at the end) born 06-05-1913, who was also at Tengeru?
Poor record keeping could also explain the unnamed Jewish tombstone.
In this connection we ought to remember that the tombstones were placed well after the deaths occurred.
The odd, slanted orientation of one of the Jewish tombstones might well be attributed to the fact that over the years, it was simply moved. Before a fence was erected around the cemetery, lots of local people and cattle roamed the site. I know that one or two graves were even vandalised.
Thanks to the good work Polish embassy and before that due to the diligence of a local Polish couple, the Polish cemetery at Tengeru is nowadays in perfect shape; a far cry from the municipal cemetery, still in use, in the nearby town of Arusha, which looks like a garbage dump.
Not all persons interred at Tengeru died from diseases they brought with them from their ordeal in the Soviet Union and their long odyssey afterwards. Quite a number died from malaria against which they had no immunity.
Besides, a number of Polish people were buried here well after the Polish Settlement at Tengeru closed in 1952, a process that is on-going, although only a handful of Poles are left in Tanzania.