THE JEWISH TOMBS: THE GENERAL MEMORY
PROJECT OF SORROW AND MEMORIES
Today (21 June 2007) on the Day of sorrow, chief rabbi of Ukraine Yakov Dov Bleich thanked the leadership of Odessa region and Lyubashovka district for their work on immortalization of memory of Nazi victims. The project is also supported by chairman of directorate of Memorial Center on memory of resistance heroes and Holocaust victims “Yad va Shem” (Israel) Avner Shalev.
The letter from
chief rabbi of Ukraine Yakov Dov Bleich
to chairman of Odessa regional state administration Ivan Plachkov, to chairman of Lyubashovka district administration Anatoly Ostrovsky and chairman of Gvozdavka-2 village council Vera Kryzhanovskaya reads:
“On behalf of all Jews of Ukraine and me personally let me express our appreciation for this big affair, that was initiated and is being realized by you in Lyubashovka district together with Odessa Judaic religious community “Tikva”-“Ohr Sameah”. Immortalization of memory of Nazi victims in the form of memorial is your joint noble project, which will definitely give its results, serving a memorandum to future generations about the fact, that there’s hardly anything more horrible, than genocide”.
Chief rabbi of Ukraine Yakov Dov Bleich also pointed out the great significance of the fact that remains of all people, murdered in Gvozdavka concentration camp will be buried and will obtain the eternal rest.
“Your attitude keeps us confident, that there are a lot of people, which won’t let Holocaust horrors repeat and gives us hope for future without events of this kind”.
The letter to Odessa governor Ivan Plachkov and chief rabbi of Odessa and Odessa region Shlomo Baksht signed by president of “The World Odessit Club” Mikhail Zhvanetsky, reads:
“Let us express our appreciation of noble affairs, which are done by you in Lyubashovka district Gvozdavka-2. Immortalization of memory of Nazi victims is a good affair, which is morally supported by members of “The World Odessit Club”, who live in different countries and by all honest people of Earth".
To remind: according to official agreement about cooperation between Lyubashovka district administration and Odessa Judaic religious community “Tikva”-“Ohr Sameah” the joint project on immortalization of memory of Jews, victims of Nazi genocide is being realized. During years of German-Romanian occupation in the territory of Gvozdavka-2 village council there was a concentration camp, where according to official archive data, about 5 thousand people were either murdered or died of hunger and diseases – both local people and those deported from other regions of Ukraine and Moldova. The exact number of those, who died there is unknown, as well as the total number of common graves: during last months there were found uncounted mass burials.
Agreement on cooperation was signed by chief rabbi of Odessa and Odessa region Shlomo Baksht and chairman of Lyubashovka district administration Anatoly Ostrovsky for duration of one year. It supposes that besides erection of monument in memory of Nazi victims, continuation of collection and documenting of evidences and search of other uncounted common graves. And also the complex of measures on preservation of mass burials, located in significant distance from inhabited places. At present the question to attach special status of “historical-cultural places” to them is being discussed.
In next days in Lyubashovka region the group of experts from Conference of European Rabbis (CER), international union of Jewish communities and their leaders, will work together with representatives of local authorities.
Chief rabbi of Odessa and Odessa region Shlomo Baksht
informed about this, he also pointed out, that experts, headed by Moshe Ershtag (London), will have to define exact boarders of burials without digging (Jewish law forbids to disturb the ashes of late people). Rabbi Baksht said that experts invited to Ukraine had successfully executed this kind of complicated work in Lithuania, Germany, Poland, Byelorussia and other European countries.
Head of Odessa Jewish community “Tikva”-“Ohr Sameah” also informed that Israel memorial “Yad va Shem” would provide all necessary assistance, in particular, would provide information and documentation as it was said by
Avner Shalev, chairman of directorate
of this biggest center on research of Holocaust history.
The Day of sorrow and memories of victims of war in Ukraine was established by the order of president of Ukraine in 2000. According to the document, it is celebrated annually on 22 June. On this day in 1941 fascist troops attacked Soviet Union. During years of occupation 240 thousands of Jews were murdered by Nazi in the south of Ukraine.
JEWISH TOMBS: COMMON MEMORY
Agreement on realization of joint project on immortalization of memory of Nazi victims was signed today (13 June 2007) by leaders of Lyubashovka district administration (Odessa region) and Odessa Judaic religious community “Tikva”-“Ohr Sameah”.
Document was signed by chairman of Lyubashovka district administration Anatoly Ostrovsky and chief rabbi of Odessa and Odessa region Shlomo Baksht. Before that the representatives of Odessa Jewish community visited places of mass burials of Jews, who died during years of Great Patriotic war at Nazi concentration camp, which was located in the territory of Gvozdavka-2 village of Lyubashovka district of Odessa region. As we informed earlier, according to official data contained in materials, sent in reply to district authorities from Russian and Ukrainian archives, the number of victims exceeds 4 700 people. Though, the exact number of murdered people is unknown as well as total number of uncounted common graves.
Today representatives of Jewish community buried the human remains, found at place, where during occupation period there was the antitank row: corpses of murdered people or of those who died of hunger or diseases were thrown to it. Pray was read over the burial.
The delegation also visited the territory, where the concentration camp was located (now there’re manufacturing workshops), and met one of the witnesses of tragic events, 85 years old Parfeny Bogopolsky.
“What we saw today is scaring! This picture will remain with me for the whole of my life”,
- said chief rabbi of Odessa and Odessa region Shlomo Baksht in his interview to international information agency “Reuters”, which was covering the event.
Head of Odessa Jewish community thanked to people and administration of the district for their initiative to immortalize the memory of Nazi victims. He underlined, that he estimates it as the true dedication to human values and consideration to international consent.
Rabbi Baksht said that he was surprised with information in some mass-media, in which it is said that as if representatives of local authorities intended to hide the facts of finding out burials.
“These blaming has no ground at all,
- says chief rabbi of Odessa and Odessa region.
– If it was like that, then these human remains, which were found by chance, would be just covered with soil and nobody would ever know about that. But Anatoly Ostrovsky and his colleagues contacted us and now we will work together on realization of our project”.
Head of district administration Anatoly Ostrovsky said that according to general opinion, the optimal place for erection of unique monument in memory of Nazi victims will be the cross-roads near former concentration camp. Complex of measures on preservation of mass burials, which are located at significant distance from inhabited places is being discussed. In near future the question on attach of special status of “historical-cultural places” will be solved.
Agreement on cooperation was signed for one year.
“Our joint work is calculated for a long period. We consider it unacceptable to conduct a single action, for example to erect a memorial sign and… to forget about what we have seen in Lyubashovka district”,
- said chief rabbi of Odessa and Odessa region Shlomo Baksht. He assured that all questions, arising during project realization will be solved only after joint discussion, in correspondence to Halakha (Jewish religious legislation) and in frames of Ukrainian laws.
MEMORY OF VICTIMS WILL BE IMMORTALIZED
Joint project on immortalization of memory of Nazi victims was worked out by local Lyubashovka authorities (Odessa region) and Odessa Judaic religious community “Tikva”-“Ohr Sameah”.
It was informed by deputy chairman of Lyubashovka distict administration Mikhail Panchenko. He said, that about one year ago while conduction of works on gas pipeline laying, there were found human bones in the land. After that the original project of gas pipeline between villages Yasenevo and Gvozdavka was corrected with the purpose to preserve the common grave.
And by order of head of district administration Anatoly Ostrovsky there was created a special commission which received documents from Ukrainian and Russian archives. In particular, these are copies of acts of extraordinary commission, which immediately after liberation of the area by Soviet Army conducted investigation and fixed the facts of German-Romanian occupants’ crimes.
According to archive materials and evidences of witnesses we can state for sure that in earlier uncounted burials Jews, murdered by fascists were buried (totally during the year there were found 6 burials). In Gvozdavka-2 village during war years there was a concentration camp, where according to official archive data, there were 4 thousand 772 people kept as prisoners – both local people and those deported from other regions of Ukraine and Moldova.
Leonid Dusman, former prisoner of ghetto and concentration camp, Odessa representative of Jerusalem Memorial “Yad va Shem”, the biggest center in research of Holocaust history (Nazi genocide of Jews) in the world, specified, that concentration camp in Gvozdavka was not the only one at the territory of the region: Jewish ghettos acted also in village Yasenevo.
In 1993-1994 Odessa researchers of Holocaust history Boris Gidalevich and Leonid Dusman established 3 memorial steles at officially fixed places of mass burials – near brick plant in Lyubashovka village (350 people were buried), in suburbs of Gvozdavka village (100 people buried), in sand-pit at Yasenevo village (100 people buried). The exact number of common graves is still unknown.
To immortalize their memory by erection of common memorial in the place of former concentration camp – this initiative of Lyubashovka inhabitants was proposed by Mikhail Panchenko, representative of district authorities to Conference of European Rabbis (CER) during the meeting of standing committee of CER. Chief rabbi of Odessa and Odessa region Shlomo Baksht assured, that Odessa Judaic religious community “Tikva”-“Ohr Sameah” will participate in this project both in organizing and financing.
Besides erection of the memorial, the plan, worked out for joint realization of project by Lyubashovka district authorities and Odessa Jewish community, in particular is the following: to conduct complex of measures on preservation of Jewish burials, further collection of witnesses’ evidences and activation of research work with the purpose to establish common graves which were not found by now.
ALIVE AND DESEASED: THE STORY WITH CONTINUATION
“No documents matching your request “Jews in Lyubashovka (Odessa region)” were found” is reported by internet search engines. And it’s true. There are no Jews in Lyubashovka today. But it is like that if you speak about alive people. There were and there are Jews in Lyubashovka. Dead Jews.
For us this story started with the call of deputy chairman of Lyubashovka distict administration Mikhail Panchenko to editorial office of “Tikva”-“Ohr Sameah”. For him this story started as soon as gas pipeline was laid to the district, and trenches for pipes were dug and human bones were found there.
Mikhail Panchenko is the native inhabitant of Lyubashovka, but where these remains were from and whom they belonged to, he had no idea. He didn’t know that not only because he is a young man (he is a bit older than 30 y.o.). Older people also couldn’t explain. Actually, the “Jewish version” appeared from the beginning: before the war the half of small town population consisted of Jews and it’s well-known what happened to Jews during the war.
Memory sign at grave of Jews, victims of Nazi genocide
Manufacturing workshops are located now at place of former concentration camp
In the district there are several memorial signs, established at places of mass executions, locals look after them. These monuments were established by odessits Boris Gidalevich and Leonid Dusman long time ago. Gidalevich is not anymore in this world. And Leonid Dusman, who is former prisoner of ghetto and concentration camp, continues to investigate the history of catastrophe in Odessa and Odessa region, to establish memorial steles, to research names and facts. It means that if Mikhail Panchenko and Leonid Dusman had a chance to get acquainted earlier, inhabitants of Lyubashovka wouldn’t need to conduct the whole investigation, they would receive answers to their questions immediately at place…
Panchenko became the initiator of this research. Together with chairman of district administration Anatoly Ostrovsky they created the commission, which started the investigation. They contacted local archives and archive in Moscow. As the result they received documents, proving that in Lyubashovka district (as well as in other towns and places of Odessa region) there was Jewish ghetto (concentration camp). It was located in Gvozdavka village. There’s also a memorial sign, established by Gidalevich and Dusman. But there are few people, who know about it: the stele is far away from the village, it’s 20 minutes drive and then long walk by feet in the forest…
Human remains under thin layer of land. And it’s like that everywhere
Village head Vera Kryzhanovskaya says, that almost everything here stands on bones. Not far from the sign there’s a path. Couple of days before, maybe because of rain or somebody’s attempt to dig a hole – under a thin layer of land there appeared human remains, it was an uncounted grave. And it’s like that everywhere. In garage behind the village council there’s a box with bones, found in village neighborhood. What is the right way to do with them nobody knows both in district and region. But they are convinced that something is to be done “according to rules”…
That’s why they contacted Jewish organization “Tikva”. They addressed with the idea to create the monument in memory of all Jews, who were killed there. They want to erect the memorial in Gvozdavka at the crossroads where the concentration camp was located (at present there are manufacturing workshops, headrig; and nearby there is a bus stop, local church – it means the center of village life).
- It’s impossible to establish a monument over every grave,
- says Mikhail Panchenko
– And to find all graves it’s necessary to dig the entire district.
And Anatoly Ostrovsky adds:
- Time passes, memory erases. And it’s necessary to establish the monument at the place which is seen for everybody, to leave the memory.
Actually in these places there are people, who remember the way it happened. At present by the advice of Leonid Dusman, who cooperates for many years with Jerusalem memorial center “Yad va Shem”, they go in for documenting of evidences. We got acquainted with one of these witnesses Parfeny Bogopolsky in Gvozdavka. He is 85 years old, but he has an excellent memory and he remembers everything. There’s a woman in Gvozdavka who lived opposite ghetto. There are some more people in the district, which remember the way it was here…
Leonid Dusman and Mikhail Panchenko at place of future memorial
We will meet them. So it’s to be continued – with participation of chief rabbi of Odessa and Odessa region Shlomo Baksht; he was really touched with this story. There will be new meetings, financial questions will be solved (it’s impossible to do without them: district, of course, can’t erect the memorial by its own forces) and the question how to do everything “according to rules”.