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More than 150 Jewish gravestones looted by the Nazis to make a ROAD discovered by builders Poland 

More than 150 Jewish gravestones used by the Nazis to help build a road have been found in a small market square in a town in Poland.

The grim discovery was made during construction work in the town of Leżajsk where workers removed a layer of asphalt and found the ‘matzevot’, which is Hebrew for headstones, 20 cm below the surface.

Described as one of the biggest ‘matzevot’ finds in recent times, around 100 of the gravestones are still complete, save for the traditional rounded heads.

Another 50 headstones were broken up into small pieces and used to fill in the base of the road.

The grim discovery was made during construction work in the town of Leżajsk where workers removed a layer of asphalt and found the 'matzevot' 20 cm below the surface

The grim discovery was made during construction work in the town of Leżajsk where workers removed a layer of asphalt and found the ‘matzevot’ 20 cm below the surface

Some of the matzevot have kept their original colours and painted lettering, clearly showing the blue, green, yellow and red colours of the inscriptions

One of the gravestones is pictured above

Some of the matzevot have kept their original colours and painted lettering, clearly showing the blue, green, yellow and red colours of the inscriptions

Archaeologist Ewa Kędzierska who is overseeing the work said: ‘We were expecting to find some because 19 years ago matzevot were also found during the construction of a roundabout in the centre of Leżajsk.

‘But nobody expected such a number. There are more than 150 of them and still not all of them have been removed.’

She added: ‘We can’t read the years, because everything is in Yiddish. Some matzevot are made of sandstone, others of concrete.

‘These are better preserved, because the sandstone cracked in contact with water. They are in different condition, but they are really beautiful.’

Workers uncover the mass grave site after the discovery was made during construction work in Poland

Workers uncover the mass grave site after the discovery was made during construction work in Poland

The discovery of the graves has been described as one of the biggest 'matzevot' finds in recent times

The discovery of the graves has been described as one of the biggest ‘matzevot’ finds in recent times

Around 100 of the gravestones are still complete, with some made of sandstone and others of concrete

Around 100 of the gravestones are still complete, with some made of sandstone and others of concrete

German troops occupied the town shortly after the outbreak of WWII in September 1939 and most of the town’s Jewish population were expelled to the Soviet occupation zone just 11km away.

The remaining 350 Jews were confined in the town’s ghetto which was established in 1941, with many murdered in executions in the local cemetery.

The Germans decided to pave the market square using bricks from the local synagogue, which they had already burned down.

Jundreds of Jews were confined in the town's ghetto, with many murdered in executions in the local cemetery. Above, a photograph of the Jewish cemetery in the interwar period

Jundreds of Jews were confined in the town’s ghetto, with many murdered in executions in the local cemetery. Above, a photograph of the Jewish cemetery in the interwar period

The Germans decided to pave the market square using bricks from the local synagogue, which they had already burned down

The Germans decided to pave the market square using bricks from the local synagogue, which they had already burned down

After the discovery (above) the excavated headstones  wereplaced on a plot belonging to the local council until a final decision is made about what to do with them

After the discovery (above) the excavated headstones  wereplaced on a plot belonging to the local council until a final decision is made about what to do with them

When the bricks ran out, the Germans ordered that headstones be brought from the nearby Jewish cemetery.

Construction workers also discovered the gravestones covered a 98-foot stretch of road.

Some of the matzevot have kept their original colours and painted lettering, clearly showing the blue, green, yellow and red colours of the inscriptions.

The discovery has led to speculation that the headstone with gold lettering may belong to Rabbi Elimelech Weissblum.

He was one of the founders of the Hasidic movement and, according to legend, healed the sick and was able to talk to animals.

The market square road is pictured above, before the discovery of the mass graves was uncovered in Poland

The market square road is pictured above, before the discovery of the mass graves was uncovered in Poland

Around 50 headstones, which are called matzevot in Hebrew, were broken up into small pieces and used to fill in the base of the road

Around 50 headstones, which are called matzevot in Hebrew, were broken up into small pieces and used to fill in the base of the road

Germans decided to pave the market square using bricks from the local synagogue, which they had already burned down. Above is the town's current synagogue, which was built in the late 1990s

Germans decided to pave the market square using bricks from the local synagogue, which they had already burned down. Above is the town’s current synagogue, which was built in the late 1990s

Construction workers discovered that the gravestones covered a 98-foot stretch of road

Construction workers discovered that the gravestones covered a 98-foot stretch of road

Every year the town is visited by thousands of Hasidic Jews who come to pray at his tomb which, although destroyed during the war, was later reconstructed.

Ewa Kędzierska said: ‘I hope that one could be the grave of Rabbi Elimelech Weisblum of Lizhensk. That would be a great discovery.’

The excavated headstones have now been placed on a plot belonging to the local council until a final decision is made about what to do with them.

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