Close your eyes, breathe in deeply, now exhale slowly… That was easy, wasn’t it? Not for everyone…
If one makes his way beyond the outskirts of Kiev and continues deep into the forests of the neighboring village of Radomyshl, he soon enters an unmarked clearing.
To the untrained eye, the gap in the trees would appear random and most passersby would likely admire the lush vegetation enveloping the spot before continuing along the way.
But the horrific reality rooted here, as in hundreds of other sites strewn around the Ukrainian landscape, tells a wholly tragic, often ignored chapter in the incomprehensible history of the Holocaust.
Beneath the grass and the lilies that now sprout unchecked lie the bodies of hundreds if not thousands of Jewish victims, summarily murdered during a brief span of days in early 1942. The massacre was carried out by Nazi killing squads acting alongside their local paramilitary collaborators. All too often nearby villagers joined in, welcoming the chance to translate age-old hatred of the Jews into cold-blooded murder.
Underneath these grounds are the stories of remarkable families. Families who exemplified centuries of Jewish traditions that personified the rich cultures of Eastern European Jewry.
With the crack of each killer’s bullet, lives were terminated without any chance to say goodbye.
The Nazis diabolically assumed that their Jewish victims would be quickly forgotten and that unmarked killing fields would quickly fade into the lush surrounding landscape.
Incredibly, they were right, multiplying the crime. It was not just murder of innocents, but also erasure of the crime and the memory of the victims.
Decades later, there is a growing fear that in this regard the Nazis may have succeeded. For even while historians try to document precisely how many souls were lost to the Final Solution, the reality is that if these clearings in the forest go forever unnoticed, the sacred lives lost in each spot will also vanish.
There is no disputing that a life lost in the backwoods of Ukraine or Belorussia is no less valuable than one extinguished in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. Every one of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis deserves to be remembered and his or her life memorialized.
There are many reasons why this effort is critical for humanity. But, undeniably, our most important motivation in accurately preserving the memories of the victims of Nazism is to ensure that humanity never ignores, forgets or diminishes the fact that these horrors occurred.
Though it may seem absurd that people could ever deny the systematic annihilation of millions of innocents, current events prove that evil-intentioned people are intent on doing just that. It is therefore incumbent upon us in the Jewish community, and indeed upon all human beings who understand the true dangers represented by hate-filled and genocidal regimes, to do everything in our power to make sure that every victim of the Holocaust is properly remembered and memorialized.
It is this very commitment that drives our current initiative to create a Ukrainian Jewish Museum. This project will provide a physical facility where guests can come, visit and learn about the remarkable centuries-old history of one of the Jewish world’s proudest communities. No less important, the museum will embrace a monumental commitment and infrastructure to identify the anonymous killing fields in the woods that would otherwise continue to be ignored.
Clearly, the clock is working against us. Admittedly, this effort should have been launched two or three decades ago. Regrettably, the political environment and other factors prohibited us from pursuing this approach at that time.
It is all the more critical for us to move as quickly as possible while the greatest resource available for understanding the Holocaust – the survivor community – remains alive. Even given the limited capacity in which we have been able to work up to now, survivors have been absolutely instrumental in identifying mass graves.
Some of these survivors were able to remain alive as small children, fleeing into the forests and literally hiding behind trees as they witnessed family members being slaughtered and thrown into the pits. While the Nazis would force Jewish laborers whom they kept alive for that purpose to cover over the bodies and disguise the unthinkable crimes taking place, those who were able to survive would eventually find their way back and reveal the truth.
About the Author:
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
In 2015, Israel’s fertility rate (3+ births per woman) is higher than all Arab countries except 3
The New Israel Fund, as usual, condemns the State of Israel rather than condemning a horrible act.
I sought a Muslim group that claims to preach a peaceful and accepting posture of Islam, Ahmadiyya
Jonathan remember, as long as you’re denied your right to come home to Israel you’re still in prison
Reports of a dead baby, a devastated family, and indications of a gloating attacker.
“Yesha” and Binyamin Regional Council leaders said the attack “is not the path of Jews in Judea and Samaria.”
The occasion? The rarely performed mitzvah of pidyon peter chamor: Redemption of a firstborn donkey.
American leftists have a pathological self-inflicted blindness to the dangers of political Islam
Hillary should THANK Trump; By dominating the news he’s overshadowed the implosion of her campaign
Hard to remember when Jewish youth were so hostile to their heritage as they are on campuses today.
Names of the enablers of Iran’s Nuclear weapons will be added next to Hitler’s on the list of infamy
By most accounts, the one person with the political muscle to swing enough Democratic votes to override a veto is Sen. Schumer.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/for-every-jewish-mass-grave-a-sign-a-name/2010/10/13/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: