Graves of Holocaust victims looted, desecrated across Ukraine

Looters dig up mass graves of Holocaust victims, desecrate remains in search for gold teeth and jewelry.


Arutz Sheva Staff


Marker of Jewish grave desecrated by looters

Marker of Jewish grave desecrated by looters

Press release

The remains of Jews murdered during the Holocaust have become the target of grave robbers across the Ukraine, say local Jews, who claim the phenomenon has become common in recent years.

Mass graves, where the bodies of Jews slaughtered by the Nazis and their allies were buried, are increasingly being desecrated by looters hoping to find gold teeth or jewelry among the skeletons of Holocaust victims.

Remains of Holocaust victims desecrated by grave robbers Press release

“Unfortunately, in the Ukraine there are many mass graves which are not sufficiently protected, where thousands of Jews were executed during the Holocaust," said Michael Yehudanin, President of the European Forum of Russian-speaking Jews.

Yehudanim says that while efforts are being made to protect the remains of Holocaust victims, the struggle against grave robbers is an uphill battle.

"Seventy years after these terrible murders, their graves are being desecrated and looted. These crimes are absolutely inhuman. We are trying to strengthen the graves, to bring order, and clearly mark the mass graves so their significance is known and understood. Unfortunately there is only so much we can do and there are many graves, as well as many grave-robbers. "

Yehudanin has been aided in his efforts by Dr. Dimitry Shiglik, a Ukrainian born businessman and President of the American Forum of Russian-speaking Jews. Both have invested in projects aimed at protecting the graves of Holocaust victims from desecration and looting. As the severity of the crimes and audacity of looters increase, however, Shiglik and Yehudanim say both local authorities and Jewish communities abroad must play a larger role in fighting grave-robbing.

Outside of the cities of Berdychiv and Zhytomyr, they note, dozens of mass graves have been desecrated in recent years. Some grave robbers have even removed remains to sell on Ukrainian markets as gruesome souvenirs, including skulls.

"We call on the Jewish communities and their leaders to join this struggle and take a more active role in protecting these mass Jewish graves in order to prevent their desecration, and call for severe punishments for the criminals," said Shiglik.


From Lvov, our colleague Meylakh Sheykhet comments on two stories of Ukrainian Jewry posted yesterday, "Antisemitic author given top award by Ukrainian president" and "Ukrainian Jewish leader says community in danger of extinction":

The articles are very important to understand the dramatic situation of Jewish historical presence and impact, Holocaust issues and recognition of them.

            The article by Sam Sokol is very true, and should be taken into strong consideration to properly explain the Holocaust to non-Jews in the Ukraine as a common tragedy, because they lost Jewish neighbors who cared about them, and the level of morality receded after the Jews disappeared.
            The UCSJ, as the most independent of grassroots organizations, would be the best to clarify the points raised by Dolinsky as a way to uncover the truth which would be acceptable by both sides in a conflict which is sleeping and at times awakes.