Mass graves database to go online


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Information gleaned from Father Patrick Desbois’ years-long search for mass Jewish graves in Eastern Europe will be made available on a database.

Desbois’ organization, Yahad-In Unum, has joined with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Jewish Committee to set up an online database of his findings since 2004 of mass graves in more than 600 towns and villages in Belarus, Ukraine, Russia and Poland.

The database, known as Traces, will be available by midsummer on Yahad-In Unum’s website and via the museum’s website, according to a statement issued May 13 by the groups.

Each village report will include summaries and extracts of videotaped testimony by eyewitnesses to the mass shootings of Jews, Roma and Soviet prisoners in the East by the Nazis and their allies.

The database joins a number of other Holocaust-era online information search sites that have been made available recently through the U.S. Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, the U.S. National Archives and other national archives.

Desbois, in Washington last week to meet with officials at the State Department, says his work is only half done.

Hannah Rosenthal, the State Department envoy in charge of combating anti-Semitism, told JTA that she hopes to help Desbois continue his research by "twinning" American Jewish communities with possible gravesites.

Desbois focuses on the first phase of the Holocaust in which German troops murdered an estimated 1 million people in mass shootings.

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