Ghetto victims get Jewish reburial

The remains of 150 victims of the Kharkov ghetto were given a traditional Jewish burial.

The remains were discovered last year in this western Ukrainian city when construction of a new apartment complex began at the site of the former ghetto. Construction was halted after local Jews protested, and a sample dig turned up the human remains along with what appeared to be a siddur, or prayerbook.

On Wednesday, the remains of the 150 victims were moved to Drobitzky Yar, a ravine on the city’s outskirts where Nazis murdered more than 15,000 Jews in December 1941 and January 1942. Foreign diplomats, local officials, Holocaust survivors and members of the Jewish community attended the ceremony.

Larisa Volovik, director of the Kharkov Holocaust Museum, told JTA she obtained classified archival records from 1943 verifying that the site proposed for the apartment complex was used to bury hundreds of Jews killed in the ghetto.

A memorial zone was dedicated at the site in 1992, containing several Holocaust markers including a Wall of Sorrow and a plaque honoring the Righteous Among the Nations.

“We agreed to remove the remains to Drobitzky Yar and accepted a plan for a new memorial about 100 meters away from the existing Holocaust markers,” Volovik said.

She and other Jewish leaders believe many more Jews were murdered on the site of the former ghetto.

“I believe that over 600 burial places are there,” Moshe Moskowitz, chief rabbi of the Kharkov region, told JTA. “That is why I asked the mayor of Kharkov to allow representatives of our Jewish community to be present during further excavations.”

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