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As noted on the Web site of the Union of Belarusian Jewish Communities and Public Associations (meod.by), vandals defiled the memorial set up in Slutsk to commemorate ghetto prisoners, shot and burnt by the Nazi on February 8, 1943.
The monument is situated in the centre of the city next to the district executive committee and 20 metres from the place where the central entrance to Slutsk ghetto was situated during World War II.
A swastika and other anti-Semitic graffiti were painted on the monument. The leader of the Jewish community, a former prisoner of the Slutsk ghetto, Fridrikh Falevich summarized these facts.
Local authorities asked workers of housing and public services to clean the granite slabs, and the monument was restored to its original state."
Source: Charter 97, 2009-07-31 (16:34)
"Vandals burned all wreaths and flowers at the monument; the monument is sooty, covered with something like tar," Barys Bruk, head of the Brest Jewish community, told BelaPAN.
According to him, he learned about the incident from activists of the community on May 10 , and informed the city executive committee, militia, and information and culture center of the Israeli Embassy in Belarus about the incident.
"Law enforcement officers were working at the site today. They said a criminal case would be instigated about it," Bruk said. "Only those who can't be called people are able to commit this unprecedented act of vandalism when we mark an anniversary of the victory over German Nazi troops. This monument was erected in memory of 34,000 Brest dwellers, slaughtered by the fascists for being Jews. Insulting their memory is another killing of them." "
Source: Charter 97, 2009-05-12 (8:45)
"I didn't expect that so many people would come today," said survivor Sima Urbanovich, 75. "I came because I worry, you see, that soon there will be no one left to honor them. But having seen so many youngsters, it seems this place won't soon be forgotten." Urbanovich said the event, though important, evoked painful memories for her. She said her mother had survived a mass shooting one night in the ghetto by playing dead, and was thrown into the burial pit by Nazi soldiers. After nightfall, she climbed out and escaped to the nearby woods, where she joined a resistance movement. Only 7 at the time, Urbanovich managed to flee to a separate hideout and was reunited with her mother after the war.
The Minsk ghetto, known as the Yama, or Pit, was one of Europe's largest. More than 100,000 Jews were killed there from August 1941. Most were shot in the street outside their homes. In October 1943, the Germans demolished ghetto buildings in an effort to find Jews in hiding. The remaining 2,000 Jews were rounded up and killed.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko began the memorial proceedings in Minsk with a televised speech on Monday. "Our sacred motto is 'Nothing is forgotten, no one is forgotten.' We have a great debt to the memory of front-line fighters, guerrillas, underground resistance fighters and victims of Nazism," Lukashenko said.
Opposition leaders accused Lukashenko, who has never attended the ghetto ceremonies in his 14 years as president, of using this anniversary to curry favor with the West. Lukashenko, who has been described as Europe's last dictator, is on a mission to improve Belarus' image in the West. Recent moves to free political prisoners have been met with praise in Europe and the revoking of an EU travel ban, a move he called a "small but significant step."
Nasta Palazhanka, deputy head of the banned opposition group Youth Front, said Lukashenko's motives were suspect because he has never avidly fought anti-Semitism. "Look at the numerous times criminals have defaced Jewish memorials. The perpetrators are never caught. Authorities often even refuse to investigate," said Palazhanka, who was at the procession. Alexei Heistber, the head of a Holocaust victims group in Germany, said he had brought dozens of German children to Minsk "because it is useful to show what happened in Belarus in those tragic years."
Representatives from the United States, Ukraine and Moldova also attended the lightly policed event. Up to 800,000 Jews — or 90 percent of the Jewish population — were killed in Belarus during World War II. Fewer than 50,000 Jews now live in Belarus, a mostly Slavic nation of 10 million."
Source: Associated Press (AP) on Google News, 2008-10-21
The commemoration was organized by the local government; Voluntas, a Belarusian-registered international charity; and US citizen Aaron Ginsburg. Fourteen relatives of the massacre’s victims arrived from the United States, Russia and South Africa to attend the ceremony, Franklin J. Schwarz, director of the Voluntas international relations department, told BelaPAN.
The park on the territory of the cemetery was renovated with donations from Jewish communities abroad and funds provided by the local government, Mr. Schwarz said. Aleh Pinchuk, chairman of the Dokshytsy District Executive Committee, initiated the renovation project, which included straightening up old gravestones, building a fence around the cemetery and putting up black marble stones and a memorial slab bearing an inscription that reads, in Belarusian, “Remember the Jewish life that once teemed here,” Mr. Schwarz said.
Ceremony participants visited the Dokshytsy general education school to thank its students for taking care of the park and the cemetery. They also expressed gratitude to local residents for honoring the memory of their ancestors and enabling the story of the Jewish community in Dokshytsa to become part of Belarusian history.
On May 23, 1942, most of the Jewish residents of Dokshytsy were herded into a ravine near the cemetery and shot dead."
Source: Naviny [BelaPAN], 2008-05-24
More that 100,000 Jews from Minsk and other Belarusian cities were put in the ghetto in the first days of the war. The agency prepared the excursion as part of events to mark the 65th anniversary of the end to the ghetto.
"Participants will be told about the resistance of ghetto prisoners and about how they fought for their human dignity, life and liberation," Maryna Mastashava, a departmental head at the agency, told BelaPAN. "In addition, tourists will learn about how residents of the Belarusian capital helped save those who managed to escape from the ghetto. There are several dozens people in Belarus recognized as righteous gentiles."
"Since the attention of many tourists visiting Belarus has been drawn to the Holocaust tragedy in the last decades, I think the excursion prove very popular," Ms. Mastashava said. "It will form the right understanding of our history during the occupation of Minsk and Belarus.""
correspodent: Anastasiya Yanushewskaya
Source: Naviny [BelaPAN], 2008-03-17
Iosif Liberman, leader of the local Jewish community who accompanied the Microsoft CEO in Pinsk, told BelaPAN that Mr. Ballmer had arrived together with his sister on October 25 , with the one-day visit being his gift to her on the occasion of her 50th birthday.
The two visited an exhibition of Jewish artists at the Museum of Belarusian Palessye, the grave of their great grandfather at a Jewish cemetery, the building that was once their cousin’s bakery, and the synagogue where Mr. Ballmer talked with Rabbi Moshe Fima.
The local Jewish community presented a candlestick from Israel, other souvenirs, as well as books and pictures about Pinsk, to the guests, Mr. Liberman said."
Source: Naviny [BelaPAN], 2007-10-29
German SS troops razed a ghetto in this town on the border with Poland in the fall of 1942, killing 26,000 of its 34,000 residents, among 50 thousand Jews killed during Germany's four-year of occupation of this westernmost republic of the then Soviet Union.
Israel's Ambassador in Belarus, Zeev Ben-Arie, representatives of Polish Consulate General, the Byelorussian Union of Jewish Communities, and other public organizations took part in the commemorations this week.
The Brest ghetto was the largest in Byelorussia. Byelorussian Jews who managed to escape from ghettos created guerilla units and fought against the German occupation. After the war ended, the chief commander of Jewish units, Tuvia Belski, emigrated to the United States. He died in 1986 and was buried in Jerusalem.
Also this week, 15 gravestones in a Jewish cemetery were vandalized in the Byelorussian town of Bobruysk. Anti-Semitic graffiti was painted on the gates of the cemetery along with a swastika."
Source: Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 2007-10-19
It should be reminded that Lukashenka said: “If you visited Babruisk, you saw in what condition the town was. It was frightfully to enter, it was a pigsty. It was largely a Jewish town, and you know what the attitude the Jews have towards the place they live. Look at Israel, I have been there… In no case want I to offend them, but they do not care of the grass to be cut like in Moscow, at Russians, Belarusians. Such was the town… Possible to live – good. Wooden houses – not bad, brick-built – not bad, too. Paved street – good, not paved – well. Such was the town. We have brought it to order and say to the Israeli Jews – guys, come back. I have said them come back with money”.
17 October in the comment to BelaPAN Zeev Ben-Arie expressed his “surprise and regret” concerning the Belarusian President’s remarks addressing Jews. “The echo of, as I hoped, the long ago buried by the enlightened mankind myth of untidy, dirty, stinking Jews, the anti-Semitic myth, is heard”, - the diplomat noted. “An impression appears that Babruisk was an independent Jewish barony with its independent budget, not one of the Belarusian towns where the responsibility for improvement and resources for it were in the hands of the local authorities. Thanks God, they find the facilities for urban development now”, - the ambassador said. At the same time he wished “the Belarusian towns would reach the level of municipal and social services of Israel, with its health service, the aged and handicapped people care, drug control, alcoholism and domestic violence, kindergartens and schools equipment, though the president detected somewhere uncut grass”."
Source: Charter 97, 2007-10-19Note: Another media source states that the Israeli ambassador had not been recalled, but while on a vacation in Israel, met for consultations with Israeli government officials (The Jerusalem Post, Oct. 22, 2007).
“If you were in Babruysk, you saw in what condition the city was. Entering it was a fearful experience! It was a sty! This was mainly a Jewish city. Well, you know how Jews treat the place where they’re living. Look in Israel,” he said."
In an interview with BelaPAN, Ambassador Zeev Ben Arie said that the remarks were reminiscent of “the anti-Semitic myth depicting Jews as untidy, dirty, smelling people.” “There’s an impression that Babruysk was an independent Jewish place with its own budget rather than one of Belarusian cities where the responsibility and funds for its cleanup and landscaping were in the hands of authorities,” he stressed.
The diplomat said he wished that “municipal and social services” in Belarus would one day match Israel’s level, “although the president saw untrimmed grass somewhere.”
Referring to a recent vandal attack on a Jewish cemetery in Babruysk and the appearance of anti-Semitic graffiti on a building in Slutsk, he expressed hope that “in Belarus, on whose land one of Europe’s biggest Jewish communities was nearly entirely destroyed at the hands of Nazis and their henchmen, they will devote more attention to manifestations of anti-Semitism and refrain from any remarks that may encourage such regrettable phenomena.” " Marat HARAVY
Source: Naviny [BelaPAN], 2007-10-17
“If you have ever been to Babruisk, you must have seen what the town looked like. It was terrible! A real pigpen! And that was mostly a Jewish town. You know how Jews treat the places where they live. Look at Israel; they’re not so particular about cutting lawns like in Russia or Belarus,” Lukashenka said.
But it’s not about lawns. It’s about cemetery. In Babruisk 15 graves were profaned, monuments were thrown down and broken. The Jewish cemetery of Babruisk didn’t know such a blatant vandalism although it is 86 years old, Polish Radio emphasizes. The vandalism in Babruisk and the commentary of the country’s president were not ignored by Israeli Ambassador to Belarus Zeev Ben Arye.
“The echo of Anti-Semitism is clear, although I hoped it’s gone now. And it’s not about the fact that such things still happen. Of course, this is terrible, but this can happen anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, the criminals are normally not found and not punished. I believe such cases need more attention, a wider coverage in the media. Nevertheless, we have repeatedly emphasized that in the modern Belarus there is no Anti-Semitism as a mass phenomenon,” the Ambassador said.
The vandalism strengthened by the statements of the country’s head made a sensation, Israel’s Ambassador said.
The police are searching for Babruisk vandals, but representatives of the Jewish community don’t expect a positive result. At the same time, according to the latest population census, in Babruisk there live 4 thousand Jews out of 250 thousand people."
Source: Charter 97, 2007-10-19
"I was terrified when I saw the committed, - L. Rubinshtein said, - Besides some monuments were torn out with the basement, there were human excrement on the chips".
The existed since 1921 old Jewish cemetery hasn't yet known such an unprecedented act of vandalism. "There were acts of vandalism before, of course, when 5-6 graves were damaged slightly. For example, in summer a man was caught, who was stealing stainless steel fences, - the local inhabitants told BelaPAN. – But such barbarity had never occurred. The cemetery keeper Marat Petlah was the first to see the committed. He informed the community chairman. The militiamen draw up a report, but the Jews have no hope the criminals will be found".
"Even I can't call it the demonstration of antisemitism, - L. Rubinshtein explained, - As some time ago approximately 30 graves on the local Belarusian cemetery were violated in a similar way. Though we face anti-Semitism demonstration, too. Some time ago, for example, on the cemetery gates and on the bus stop near it the swastika and words humiliating Jews were written".
12 October the community chairman sent a letter to Babruisk mayor where he asked to help in guard of Jewish cemetery in Minskaya Street and other town cemeteries.
By estimate, the made by vandals damage amounted more than USD 12,000."
Source: Charter 97, 2007-10-15
While addressing the gathering, Israeli Ambassador Zeev Ben Arie recalled November 2006 vandal attacks on the Yama memorial and the building where the Israeli Cultural and Information Center is located. He expressed regret that there was a lack of response from authorities to the attacks, suggesting that this was an attempt to hush up them. "Unfortunately, such attempts tarnish the Belarusian people and law-enforcement agencies," he said.
When the Red Army liberated Minsk on July 3 1944, only 13 Jews remained in the city, according to Leanid Levin, head of the Union of Belarusian Jewish Public Associations."
Source: Naviny [BelaPAN], 2007-03-02
"Exhibits represent various aspects of the Holocaust, including those associated with the repression of almost 600 thousand Jews in Germany."
"The lists of a part of the German Jews deported to Minsk and killed in the Minsk Ghetto and the lists of the Belarusian victims of the Trascjanec death camp are also on display."
"The exhibition also narrates about the fate of the executors, tried after the World War II for the crimes against humanity."
Source: European Radio for Belarus, 2007-01-27 14:51:35
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