Odessa Jews demand construction halt


The Jewish community of Odessa is trying to stop construction for the second time in an area believed to be the site of a wartime massacre.

A grave was found by chance last week when workers were digging to lay pipes, Roman Shvartz, a leader of the Odessa Association of Former Prisoners of Ghettos and Concentration Camps, told JTA Tuesday.

The site is located at the intersection of Lyusdorfskaya and Tolbukhina Streets in the Ukrainian city of Odessa. In autumn 1941 the Nazis killed and cremated more than 25,000 people, mainly Jews, in this area. The corner is marked by two memorials commemorating Jewish and Soviet prisoners of war massacred by the Nazis.

According to Jewish activists, the proposed construction site is located about 300 yards from one of the memorials and on Monday workers dug up human remains.

But the workers did not stop digging, and the remains were thrown out near the site. A local TV channel showed the remains of the Holocaust victims during a broadcast Monday evening , but during the night the remains were removed.

Rabbi Avraham Wolf, Chief Rabbi of Odessa and Southern Ukraine, on Tuesday visited the site and found many other human remains there.

Odessa Vice-Mayor Vakhtangi Ubiriya told JTA that he will do everything in his power to halt any construction at the site of the wartime massacre.


In the letter sent Tuesday to Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, the Odessa Jewish community demands that all unearthed remains be found and returned to the site,and that the government ban construction at the site of massacre and give the area the status of commemorative mass grave/burial place to the site.




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