In recent years, dozens of grave of Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust have been dug up and robbed on the outskirts of Ukrainian cities like Zhytomyr and Berdychiv. The robbers are looking for gold teeth, jewelry and even children’s skulls.
Some in the Ukraine are calling this grave-robbing a criminal epidemic, but the grave-robbers have not been caught. The gruesome crimes were first discovered when skulls from Jewish mass graves were discovered being sold at the marketplace in towns and cities.
Ukraine-born businessmen Dr. Dimitry Shiglik and Michael Yehudanin, who now live in the US and Europe respectively, have, for several years been engaged in protecting many mass graves to prevent desecration and theft. But the thieves are finding new ways to steal the contents of the graves, the two are saying.
“Unfortunately, in the Ukraine there are many mass graves which are not sufficiently protected, where thousands of Jews were executed during the Holocaust,” said Yehudanin, President of the European Forum of Russian-speaking Jews. “70 years after these terrible murders, their graves are being desecrated and looted. These crimes are absolutely inhuman. We are trying to strengthen the graves, to bring order, and clearly mark the mass graves so their significance is known and understood. Unfortunately there is only so much we can do and there are many graves, as well as many grave-robbers.”
Shiglik, President of the American Forum of Russian-speaking Jews, has called on “the Jewish communities and their leaders to join this struggle and take a more active role in protecting these mass Jewish graves in order to prevent their desecration, and call on the criminals to be severely punished.”