Minsk Ghetto victims remembered


Belarusian Jews remembered the mass killing of Minsk Ghetto Jews 65 years ago.

Hundreds paid their respects at the Yama Memorial in the Belarusian capital on May 9, the day Belarus celebrates its victory in World War II and Jews bring flowers to and pray at the stone monument.

Some 5,000 victims were killed in the ravine on March 2, 1943. Yama was the former Soviet Union’s first monument to Holocaust victims.

Among the victims who were shot and buried in the “Death Pit” were children from a Jewish orphanage and sick people from the ghetto isolation hospital.

“Yama is a holy place for every Jew in Belarus,” Jakov Basin, the vice head of the Belarusian Jewish Community, told JTA .

Belarusian Jews erected the stone monument in Minsk in 1946. It is the only Jewish monument in the former Soviet Union that survived Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, according to Basin. Soviet authorities destroyed a similar monument in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The sculptor and the poet who created Yama were arrested in 1952 and imprisoned until Stalin’s death in 1953.

Belarusian Jews come to Yama several times a year to commemorate the ghetto victims and their relatives who perished in Holocaust.

“The family of my great-grandfather perished in the Kiev ghetto,” said Nina, who attended the commemoration, told JTA. “I can’t go there. I think that it does not matter in which city I’m bringing flowers to a monument.”

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