In October of 2007, the University of Paris, called “The Sorbonne” after its thirteenth century founder, Robert de Sorbon, hosted a meeting of scholars from several European countries, the United States, and Israel, to discuss the fate of the Ukrainian Jews. Those two million Jews have been largely forgotten, mainly because the Communist bosses of the erstwhile Soviet Union would not allow any publication concerning these Jews.
Before the Second World War when Germany invaded the
Ukraine, two million Jews lived there. Today the Ukraine has only 142,000 Jews,
who once more face a government and population who hero worship the Ukrainian
Nazi collaborators who participated in the slaughter of nearly the entire Jewish
population of that country.
A French Catholic priest, Father Patrick Dubois, has
spent several years in searching for the remains of the Jews murdered by the
Ukrainian population with the blessing of the German invaders. Father Dubois has
excavated hundreds of mass graves containing the bones of Jews massacred by the
largely Greek Catholic believers during the 1940’s.
The massacres of the Jews in the Ukraine were carried
out by the majority of the population and not by a few Nazis, as revisionists
would like to pretend. In fact, the Ukrainians enjoyed the killings, which
usually took place in the main street of each town. Even Jews who were
hospitalized at the time were murdered in their hospital beds, while synagogues
were burned down with the Jews inside.
Unwilling to admit to these crimes, the present
Ukrainian population and government actively demolish all vestiges of Jewish
life in the Ukraine. Synagogues are used as garbage dumps, Jewish cemeteries
have become market places, and mass graves yield the bones of the murdered every
time there is a thaw.
Anti-Jewish hate continues even now. Ukrainians blame
Jews for the famine of the 1930’s and the Russian dictatorship under the
communists. The history of the Ukraine is deliberately distorted in schoolbooks
and elsewhere, while the erstwhile murderers are feted as great national heroes.
The president of the Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, denies
the Holocaust and pretends that the Ukrainians were the victims, not the Jews.
In addition, Yushchenko honors the killers by giving them posthumous
recognition. Monuments to the murderers are erected throughout the Ukraine and
Roman Shukhevytch is called a great Ukrainian hero. Shukhevytch was a high
ranking officer in the German battalion “Nachtigall” (Nightingale) which
murdered 7,000 Jews in Lemberg or Lviv. Shuchevitch
ordered Jewish women to remove all their clothes while the Christian population
screamed with joy as the Jewish women were forced to clean the sidewalks with
their bare hands. The population ripped the beards out of the faces of old men,
after which all the Jews were shot to death with machine guns at the orders of
Shukhevytch, the hero of the Ukraine.
In Brody, a Ukrainian town, the city council has erected a hero’s monument to the SS Division “Galizien”, which consisted of Ukrainian volunteers and committed untold atrocities against Jews. That Ukrainian division was responsible for a massacre in the Polish village of Huta Pienacka. All these crimes mean nothing to the Ukrainians, or for that matter any European nation. On the contrary. More than sixty years later hatred of Jews is as endemic in the Ukraine as ever, so that the few Jews remaining there live on top of a powder keg.
The Ukraine has a good-sized Russian population. The
Russians in the Ukraine view themselves as Russians and not Ukrainian citizens.
The Russians view the Crimea as Russian territory and maintain a Russian naval
base there. The Ukrainians don’t have the power to rid themselves of the
Russians, so that a real hate relationship exists between Russian speakers and
Ukrainians. All are agreed, however, that the Jews are the cause of all evil in
Presently, the Russian propaganda claims that the
unification of the Ukraine with Russia is only a matter of time. Ukrainians
think otherwise and seek to maintain their independence.
Perhaps the Ukrainians may be willing to learn
something from Poland where, after decades of denial, the history and culture of
the three million Jews who once lived there is now publicly acknowledged, as
Polish Christians study Jewish history, play “Klezmer” music, and make at
least some effort to remember the Jews who were once their neighbors.