C Explanatory memorandum
by Mr Raphaêl Comte, rapporteur
This report was initiated by
a motion for a resolution tabled by Ms Angela Smith and others on
23 January 2018 which highlighted the special challenges being faced
by Jewish cultural heritage as revealed in a recent survey by the
Foundation for Jewish HeritageNote
following research it conducted to
map, grade and assess the condition of the historic synagogues of
Europe. Given the Council of Europe’s ongoing work in developing
cultural heritage awareness, protection and presentation, that Jewish
heritage is an ancient and integral aspect of European culture and,
finally, that 2018 has been designated the European Year of Cultural Heritage,
it felt an appropriate moment for the Council to undertake research
into the current state of Jewish built heritage in Europe today.
Indeed, the Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural
Heritage for Society (CETS No.199, “Faro Convention”) called upon
the member States to adhere to a set of principles for heritage
protection and upon the Council of Europe to maintain a monitoring
function in regard to cultural heritage in general. The articles
of the Faro Convention are of direct relevance to this report emphasising
the following principles:
value and benefits of cultural heritage to society, while putting
ordinary citizens at the centre through linkage to human rights;
- cultural heritage is the common heritage of Europe, and
its different expressions should be treated equitably;
- heritage preservation has a relevance to everyone, and
is the responsibility of everyone;
- cultural heritage promotes an appreciation of diversity,
respect for other cultures than one’s own and, through inter-cultural
dialogue, co-existence and social cohesion;
- to make cultural heritage fully accessible, it needs to
be identified, studied, protected, conserved, interpreted and presented;
- education is a key component, cultivating a cultural collective
memory within society;
- cultural heritage is a positive resource that can bring
social and economic benefit.
4. I wish to thank Mr Michael Mail, Chief Executive of the Foundation
for Jewish Heritage and Dame Helen Hyde DBE, Chairperson of the
Foundation, for their assistance and expertise in drafting this
report. I have also taken account of some key issues that were raised
during my fact finding visit to Lithuania in October 2018, both
with people who are directly involved in restoration projects locally
and those who are involved in policy design at state level. In this
respect, I wish to thank the Lithuanian parliamentary delegation,
Mr Martynas Uzpelkis and the Lithuanian Jewish (Litvak) Community
for helping us to organise a dense programme including field visits
to 13 restoration projects in different parts of the country.
2 The situation of Synagogues in Europe
5. The Jewish presence in Europe
goes back over 2,500 years and, over that time, the Jewish people evolved
a distinct and rich culture which made a unique contribution to
wider European civilisation and remains a remarkable legacy to this
day stretching right across the continent.
6. Jewish heritage sites – synagogues, Jewish quarters, communal
buildings, cemeteries, monuments – are repositories of Jewish life,
art and customs, with many unique and beautifully constructed buildings reflecting
real architectural and artistic achievement.
7. The most emblematic feature of the Jewish communities has
been the synagogues they built, large and small, impressive and
modest. The synagogue was much more than a place of worship, it
was the main public space of the Jewish community and its symbolic
representation. Therefore, Jews and non-Jews assigned the synagogues
special importance as the embodiment of Jewish presence and of Jewish
communal and religious life.
8. The urban situation and the exterior aspect of the synagogue
often reflected the position of the Jewish community in the structure
of local society, ranging from "ghettoisation" to complete acculturation,
which became more prevalent with the Enlightenment which brought
Jewish emancipation to Europe. The look of synagogues went through
a major transformation as Jewish communities sought to demonstrate
that they were now fully European citizens; that the synagogue should
match the church in look and splendour.
9. However, the story of the 20th century
became one of transitions, with massive, and often tragic, population
loss and displacement culminating in the catastrophe of the Holocaust.
In the 19th century, 9 out of 10 Jews
lived in Europe, today it is 1 out of 10 – the Jewish people no
longer “live where they had lived”. What were once the heartlands
of the Jewish people for many centuries in countries such as Poland
and Lithuania, these communities were largely extinguished. Without
a community of users, this ancient heritage has been under attack
through neglect, natural forces, and human actions – and today remains
in many places in crisis.
10. Especially tragic was the fate of former synagogues in Eastern
Europe under communist rule: they were demolished, reconstructed
for various purposes, or simply abandoned. In Western Europe, where
the state of preservation was significantly better, reduced Jewish
communities have struggled to maintain numerous synagogues. However,
in the United Kingdom for example, unaffected by the Holocaust,
natural migration of the Jewish population from smaller to larger
cities and from city centre neighbourhoods to the suburbs left many historic
synagogues abandoned, sold and demolished.
11. After half a century of neglect, there has recently been growing
public interest in synagogue architecture. Jewish built heritage
is now more widely perceived as an integral part of local cityscapes
and of European culture in general. For example, the Council of
Europe’s Cultural Routes Programme includes a specific Jewish route.
Nevertheless, the situation with synagogues has remained unclear.
While specific outstanding buildings have been recognised, preserved
and documented, a comprehensive picture concerning the current situation of
the existent historic synagogues has been missing. Moreover, the
demolition of many former synagogues has continued into the present.
This is what led the Foundation for Jewish Heritage to commission
research, undertaken by the Center for Jewish Art at the Hebrew
University of Jerusalem,Note
to create an inventory of all the
historic synagogues of Europe in order to provide a comprehensive
picture of the current state of these buildings, with each one rated according
to their significance and condition.Note
13. The countries covered by the research were the members of
the Council of Europe with the addition of Belarus which has important
Jewish heritage sites.
14. The key findings of this mapping
research were as follows:
Total International and
are 3,237 historic synagogue buildings in Europe: it
is calculated that there were 17,000 synagogues in Europe in 1939
on the eve of the Second World War, therefore those that survived represent 19% of the 1939 total;
- of the 3,237 sites, 718 are
today functioning synagogues (22%): more than three quarters
of the historic synagogues that functioned in 1939 and that are
still extant are either used for other purposes or are abandoned;
- 757 synagogues are designated
as being at risk (23%): a quarter of the historic synagogues
still standing today are in poor or very bad condition, sufficient
to be deemed in danger.
15. The main architectural characteristic
of the synagogue is that it possesses a large prayer hall. The synagogue
buildings no longer used as such serve various purposes, for example
133 are places of worship for other faiths, 180 are museums, 289
are cultural and art centres, 900 became dwellings or offices, and
other uses include as gyms, theatres and cinemas, storage spaces
and restaurants, as well as garages and fire depots. 300 former
synagogues stand today abandoned.
16. The percentage of synagogues that survived the war significantly
differs from country to country. In general, it is much lower in
the countries of Eastern Europe and much higher in Western Europe.
The lowest level of preservation is in Belarus – only 7% of synagogues
that once existed there are still extant. About 10% of synagogues
are preserved in Ukraine, Russian Federation, Latvia, Lithuania,
Republic of Moldova and Serbia. 14% of synagogues are preserved
in Poland and Croatia, 18% in Romania. In Bulgaria, the Czech Republic,
Hungary, Slovak Republic and Bosnia and Herzegovina the situation
is much better, with 30% of synagogues still extant.
17. Further west the level of preservation becomes more significant
– about 50% of synagogues are in existence in Italy, about 60% in
France, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. In some cases, of course,
the statistics are meaningless. In Norway there were only two synagogues
and both of them are preserved, which means the level of preservation
18. It appears that the synagogues in the former Soviet Union
tended to disappear much more than in other countries. However,
the synagogues in the territories that were Soviet prior to the
Second World War have been preserved to a far lesser degree in comparison
to the territories that were annexed by the USSR as the result of
19. For example, in Belarus, two thirds of the synagogues that
exist today are situated in the western part of the country, annexed
in 1939, and only one third are in the pre-war Soviet Belorussia.
The same is true for the Ukraine. Many more synagogue buildings
are preserved in those parts of the country that prior to the war were
Poland, Romania and Czechoslovakia, than in pre-war Soviet Ukraine.
From the comparison between pre-war and post-war Soviet territories,
we can conclude that the disappearance of synagogues in the Soviet Union
began before the Second World War and the Holocaust.
20. In the countries of the former communist bloc in Eastern Europe,
the situation with preservation of synagogues is better: about 14%
of synagogues are preserved in Poland, about 18% in Romania and
former Yugoslavia, and about 30% in Bulgaria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
21. The difference between the Soviet Union and other communist
countries has several reasons. Firstly, we have already seen that
the destruction of the synagogues in the USSR started much earlier,
before the Holocaust. Secondly, the majority of synagogues in Belarus
and Ukraine (and Lithuania and Latvia) were timber buildings and
much more vulnerable to destruction during the war and after its
end. Thirdly, there was no private property in the Soviet Union,
so that all buildings belonged to a State which was inherently hostile to
religious communities and which did with them whatever it wanted.
In the East European communist countries outside the USSR in contrast,
Jewish communities continued to exist as legal entities and the
State-sponsored destruction of synagogues was not so intense.
22. The situation in Western Europe was much better than in the
East. Here the synagogues were mostly masonry, the Jewish communities
legally owned the buildings and the State was more or less neutral
and did not hold an antagonistic position towards religion.
23. The Jewish heritage today faces
the following main challenges.
24. Most Jewish heritage buildings
exist today without active communities of users making them immediately
vulnerable. There also remains a certain ambivalence within surrounding
society who consider such sites as not their own – “minority heritage”
– therefore not as valued. This is also reflected in the lack of knowledge
regarding how these buildings functioned, what the heritage value
is, and what they now require in terms of preservation and sustainability.
There is still a legacy from the policy of ignoring Jewish history prevalent
in former communist countries and, most worryingly, significant
levels of antisemitism, which has plagued Europe for centuries,
are still being documented across Europe which may also be a factor. Furthermore,
while many Jewish communal properties in the former communist countries
have been returned to the Jewish community, there are instances
where the ownership issue has not been resolved and this can hinder
25. Many of these buildings reflect
a deep societal trauma whose barbarity is hard to face. It can be
more comfortable psychologically to simply ignore such sites and
what they represent. There can also be an issue of competing narratives
surrounding the events of the Holocaust, for example in relation
to the level of collaboration with the Nazis, which can add to the
sensitivities and difficulties in addressing such sites. It is an interesting
exercise to visit the websites of towns that had substantial or
majority Jewish populations before the war – whose
history was largely a Jewish history – and see what is
now presented of that history. This neglect however is also true
for sections of the Jewish world for which the Holocaust is a deeply
painful memory that is easier to avoid.
26. There have been numerous successful
Jewish heritage preservation projects undertaken in recent years,
however the sheer number of sites that continue to be at risk remains
a barrier to action – it can seem an overwhelming task.
27. Heritage restoration and reconfiguring
old buildings for new uses is a sophisticated and costly process. Especially
in financially hard times where the focus for governments is far
more on maintaining core social services, heritage preservation
in general, and “orphaned” Jewish heritage in particular, is simply
not seen as a priority. The preservation policies are often formally
in place, but are not being implemented in practice because of financial
28. There have been increased efforts
to preserve, protect and present Jewish heritage as its historical, architectural
and social significance has become more recognised, as well as its
educational potential for contemporary society.
29. Growing numbers of local champions, often not Jewish themselves,
are determined to make sure that the Jewish story and contribution
does not disappear. Indeed, citizen participation and social activism
have often proved decisive to driving forward plans to rescue endangered
Jewish heritage. At the other end of the engagement spectrum, the
importance of this work has been recognised by the European Union
and Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein under the European Economic
Area (EEA) and Norway financial grants mechanism, which have provided
funding for specific Jewish heritage preservation initiatives.
30. There are today projects right across Europe that suggest
how such sites can be sympathetically brought back into use and
given a sustainable future. They are good examples of “adaptive
re-use” – re-inventing old sites for new purposes. Below are case
studies of such initiatives at various stages of development that
point to the possibility and potential.
Temple Synagogue, Hamburg, Germany
31. In the early 19th century,
Hamburg had the biggest Jewish community in Germany. The Neue Israelitische
Tempelverein of Hamburg, founded in 1817, was one of the earliest
Reform congregations and played an important role in the development
of the Reform movement in its theology, liturgy, music, and architecture.
In the early 1840s, its members decided to build a new Temple which
was the very first Reform synagogue to be constructed in a major
German city. It was an imposing building combining forms of neo-classicism
with elements of Neo-Gothic and Moorish style. Today, the Temple
is considered one of the most important architectural traces of
the Reform movement of the 19th century in Germany.
32. In 1931, the Jewish community
moved to a new location and the Temple was sold. During the Second World
War, the building was partially destroyed during air raids on Hamburg.
Two parts of the structure are still preserved – the entrance in
the west, and the eastern part with the apse. Today the property
is in private ownership and parts serve as a garage. The rear of
the building is out of use and in very bad condition. The whole
site is in danger due to complete neglect.
33. The first stage of the preservation
plan is to conduct research. This will be undertaken by the “Institute for
the History of Jews in Germany” based in Hamburg, and “Bet Tfila
– Research Unit for Jewish Architecture”, Technische Universität
Braunschweig who will document the structure and history of the
Temple. In recognising and drawing attention to this important heritage,
the longer-term plan is to protect the remnants of the site, turn
it into a memorial and educational centre that will present the
history of the synagogue and the significance of the site to a wider
public, while also exploring the building being used once again
as a synagogue in consultation with the current Reform community
Etz Hayim Synagogue, Izmir, Turkey
34. The Etz Hayim Synagogue is
an ancient building – the oldest synagogue in Izmir (formerly Smyrna)
– that dates back to the time of the Romaniot Jews who settled in
Asia Minor during the Byzantine period. It was later rebuilt by
Sephardic Jews who had been expelled from Spain and were welcomed
by the Ottoman Empire. The Etz Hayim therefore is a mix of architectural
styles including both Spanish and Ottoman elements which is also
reflected in the impressive frescoes that are another special feature
of the building. This confluence of influences that the building
represents is unique to Izmir. The synagogue forms part of a group
of nine historic synagogues in the old city of Izmir which is itself
a designated conservation zone.
35. The problems faced by the Etz
Hayim Synagogue are ones of decay over time, past city-wide disasters including
fires and earthquakes, and a declining Jewish community that lacks
the means to maintain the building. There had also been uncertainty
regarding the ownership of the site. At one point, the building’s
very future was in doubt, but urgent works have been carried out
to repair the roof and stabilise the floor which was sinking. However,
the building remains in a precarious situation.
36. The project to restore the
Etz Haim Synagogue is part of a larger effort to save all the historic synagogues
of the old quarter of Izmir being led by the Israeli-based Kiriaty
Foundation, working in co-operation with the Izmir Municipality,
the Jewish community of Izmir, and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of
Turkey. The ownership issue relating to these sites was recently
resolved in the community’s favour, and the vision is now to save
the Etz Haim and integrate it into a wider presentation of all the
synagogues, turning the whole complex into a unique Jewish museum
and cultural venue which will make the buildings available to a wider
public, and present the story of the Jews of the region, its history,
values and traditions and the distinct Sephardi heritage that was
introduced in the 15th century. A further key aspect will be to
present – and celebrate – the story of co-existence that has been
a feature of Jewish-Muslim relations in the region, the cross-cultural
influences and shared values, and the contribution that the Jewish
community has made.
White Stork Synagogue, Wrocław, Poland
37. Cultural diversity is one of
the most important historical and cultural attributes that makes
Wrocław (formerly Breslau) so distinctive. Rulers and borders have
changed over the centuries and it was home to many nations and denominations
owing to its location along various trade and migration routes.
The Jewish presence was first documented over 800 years ago. With
the Enlightenment came the proposal to build one main synagogue
that would serve the entire community, and this became the neo-classical
White Stork Synagogue inaugurated in 1829.
38. The building was confiscated
by the Nazis during the Second World War as part of the destruction
of Jewish life, and it was used as an auto garage and warehouse
for stolen Jewish property. After various incarnations under the
post war communist authorities, the building was permanently returned
to the Jewish community in 1996 but in a parlous state of disrepair.
39. A project of restoration immediately
began led by the Bente Kahan Foundation with the support of the city
of Wrocław and the EEA financial mechanism. Today, the Wrocław Center
for Jewish Culture and Education at the White Stork Synagogue is
a hub for exhibitions, film screenings, workshops, lectures and concerts,
making it a well-known feature of the contemporary cultural scene
in Wrocław. The building also contains a permanent exhibition entitled
“History Reclaimed: Jewish Life in Wrocław and Lower Silesia” and
a small functioning synagogue. The Center has specifically targeted
young people and its educational theatre performances on Jewish
historical themes have been seen by 25,000 youngsters. The synagogue,
together with the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Lutheran
Churches, is part of the Culture Path of the Four Denominations
district whose members organise cultural, educational and ecumenical
events with the support of the Wrocław Municipality.
Wooden Synagogue, Pakruojis, Lithuania
40. Jews settled in Pakruojis in
the early 1700s. The majority were merchants and they contributed
heavily to the development of the local economy. The growing Jewish
population stimulated the growth of the town and its social life.
The wooden Synagogue itself dates from 1801 and is the oldest surviving
synagogue in Lithuania today. The Synagogue operated until the Second
World War when the Pakruojis Jewish community was murdered en masse.
41. After the war the synagogue
became a recreation club and later a cinema. The building caught
fire several times which caused much damage putting its future in
doubt and there were calls for it to be demolished.
42. The Pakruojis Regional Administration
and the Lithuanian Cultural Heritage Department worked firstly on
saving and protecting the building. The Regional Administration
and the Lithuanian Jewish Community – the synagogue’s formal owner
– then entered into an agreement on its adaptation for public use.
The works were completed in 2016 with financing from the EEA financial
mechanism, which resulted in the renovation of the building and
the restoration of striking murals in the interior. The site is
now being used by the Pakruojis Public Library to house a children’s
literature section as well as hosting concerts and other cultural
events for the town. There is also a permanent exhibit educating
visitors on the history of the Jews of the Pakruojis region.
Synagogue, Merthyr Tydfil, Wales
43. Merthyr Tydfil was the industrial
powerhouse of Wales in the 19th century and its largest town. There has
been a Jewish presence in Merthyr since the 1830s and the construction
of the Synagogue in 1863 reflected a community that was growing
and prospering. Merthyr’s Synagogue is a stone structure designed
in Gothic Revival style, and the oldest purpose-built Synagogue
still standing in Wales. Today it is considered architecturally
one of the most important synagogues in the UK and has been awarded
Grade II listed status.
44. The Jewish community of Merthyr
slowly reduced over the 20th century
as the town’s industries declined, and it formally came to an end
in 1983 when the Synagogue was sold. Since that time, the building
was used for various purposes. However, for the last several years
it has been lying empty, its condition deteriorating and the fabric
of the building has been compromised with a gaping hole in the roof
and broken windows.
45. The building was put up for
sale by its current owner creating an opportunity to once again
consider its future. The Foundation for Jewish Heritage began seeking
views on the proposal to create a “Welsh Jewish Heritage Centre”
that would recognise, celebrate and educate about the remarkable
250-year history of the Jewish community in Wales, while also providing
a new cultural venue for the town. This was well received by the
Merthyr municipality, and the local Jewish and heritage communities
in Wales. As a result, a feasibility study was undertaken, consulting
with key local stakeholders including schools in the area and the
local museum, and this demonstrated that the concept was viable.
Next steps are now being considered in discussion with the municipality
and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Great Synagogue, Dąbrowa Tarnowska, Poland
46. Before 1939, Dąbrowa Tarnowska
was a typical Galician small town, where Polish Jews and non-Jews co-existed
without major conflicts. The first synagogue recorded was a wooden
one built in 1697. In the 1860s a monumental stone synagogue was
built to serve the growing population – the Great Synagogue – which
is considered a pearl of Hasidic architecture in Poland. In 1900,
the 2,500 Jews constituted 80% of the population.
47. During the Second World War,
the building was confiscated and used as a warehouse by the Nazis.
Very few of the Jewish community survived, with the majority killed
in Belzec death camp. After the war, the building became the property
of the Polish State Treasury and, while its future use was debated,
it remained unused and its condition deteriorated.
48. The turning point for the future
of the building was when the Polish State Treasury handed the synagogue
over to the Dąbrowa Tarnowska Municipality in 2006. This led to
the substantial undertaking to restore the building involving a
coalition of partners – the municipality, Malapolska Regional Authorities,
the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the Jewish Religious
Community of Krakow, along with the financial assistance of EU Regional
Funds. The result is the “Center for the Meeting of Cultures” which
serves as a platform for intercultural and interfaith dialogue,
where the Judaic and Christian traditions meet and interact. The
Center has a permanent exhibition on Jewish life in the region while
also offering temporary exhibition space, and it hosts concerts,
lectures, and training workshops for residents and the wider Malapolska region.
A key aspect is to make the Center intergenerational engaging the
youth, and a specific aim is to promote Polish-Jewish dialogue and
reconciliation while combating prejudice and harmful stereotyping.
49. It is important that any outstanding
issues regarding formal ownership of Jewish communal property are fully
resolved so that this does not inhibit conservation work.
50. Research is vital to ensuring
a good base of knowledge in terms of the building, its history and
the heritage value to be preserved. It is also vital that those
professionally engaged have the necessary knowledge and skills to
understand the nature and special features of the building on which
they are working.
These projects are of a scale
that require a range of stakeholders and that includes:
- local engagement – it is vital
that the local community is closely involved both at the official
local government level and through civil society, strengthening
local interest and sense of “ownership”, having residents input
into, shape and champion the project given that this is indeed their
- regional and national government support – the support
and involvement of the authorities at the regional and national
level providing formal endorsement and practical advice has been
- Jewish engagement – there should be involvement from the
Jewish community, either locally if present or externally, including
reaching out to descendants of residents and Jewish heritage organisations;
- outside funders – such projects require substantial funding
usually beyond the means of a local municipality and on-the-ground
activists. Funding has been made available by regional and national governments,
from private philanthropic sources and from EU and EEA funds.
52. While synagogue buildings may
be used for a range of purposes, there is invariably a strong educational component
presenting the history of the building and the Jewish community,
promoting co-existence and inter-cultural dialogue while combating
prejudice and intolerance. The educational aspect often has a particular focus
on the young, covering both: (a) the Jewish life, contribution and
societal enrichment through inter-cultural exchange and (b) the
dangers of intolerance, prejudice and antisemitism that culminated
in the Holocaust.
53. The synagogue is integrated
into the general cultural life of the town, restoring and “normalising”
it as simply another location on a diverse landscape, promoting
sense of place, connecting current generations to the Jewish aspect
of their history and culture.
54. The projects are keen to ensure
that the use of the building is appreciated by, and meets the needs
of, the local community thereby providing a sustainable future.
the full story
55. In those sites that reflect
communities killed in the Holocaust, the educational focus is not
just on how the community came to an end, but also on the centuries
beforehand demonstrating the life and contribution of the community.
56. There is the recognition that,
by saving such sites and giving them a new lease of life, they can
also provide an economic dividend to the town for example by promoting
tourism, and can be a source of socio-economic regeneration. Jewish
heritage buildings serve as pilgrimage sites for Jews seeking to
understand how their forebears lived, and increasing numbers of
non-Jewish people are also drawn to such sites in wanting to understand
the Jewish history of the region, or simply appreciate an aesthetically
57. Jewish cultural heritage should
be fully recognised as an integral part of the overall heritage
of society and therefore treated equitably. As a reminder, a quarter
of the historic synagogues still standing today in Europe are in
poor or very bad condition and are deemed in danger. Based on the
experience from heritage preservation projects that I have visited
during the preparation of this report, I wish to emphasise that awareness
at the local level of the need to preserve Jewish heritage should
be further promoted, building local “ownership” and encouraging
partnerships among various stakeholders including local authorities,
civil society groups, the Jewish community and heritage organisations.
58. The special vulnerability of Jewish heritage, described often
as “orphaned” heritage without its local communities, must be taken
into account in shaping heritage policies. National heritage surveys
should include Jewish heritage as a distinct category, identifying
sites at risk, providing statutory protection, developing action plans
and directing resources to the most urgent cases, ensuring that
Jewish heritage is receiving the same level of protection, conservation
59. I believe that Jewish cultural heritage – both tangible and
intangible – should be used as a key element in history teaching,
for it is a physical expression of the Jewish life and historic
presence in Europe. This educational value should be recognised,
and educational programmes widely developed embracing schools, universities,
museums and the cultural sector. Moreover, valuing and having a
deeper understanding of Jewish cultural heritage would also contribute
to inter-cultural dialogue, promoting inclusiveness and social cohesion, while
also helping societal healing and coming to terms with a difficult
60. The Holocaust should be studied because it fundamentally challenged
the very foundations of society. It enables people to consider the
use and abuse of power, and the responsibilities of individuals,
organisations and nations when confronted with human rights violations.
It gives a perspective on how a convergence of factors can contribute
to the disintegration of democratic values, showing the stages that
can lead to genocides and thus heighten awareness to the potential
for genocide in our world.
61. In practical terms, I would advocate creating a mechanism
for the training of professional and volunteer practitioners in
the field of Jewish heritage, including accessing knowledge, skills
and models of best practice across Europe. Such co-operation could
be further promoted by developing a shared ethos and working practices.
62. Let me also emphasise the economic benefits to preserving
Jewish heritage sites, which can contribute to the visual landscape
and boost local economies by being integrated into the general heritage
on offer to visitors, tourists and pilgrims.
63. In conclusion, I wish to underline that Jewish culture forms
an integral part of the shared cultural heritage in Europe – and
it is therefore our common responsibility to increase efforts to