Euroasian Jewish News
Statement of the Vaad of Ukraine in support of the Initiative Group to preserve memory of Sambir Nazi victims
On August 21, 2019, Primate of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Metropolitan Sviatoslav, Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Metropolitan Epiphanius, and Chief Rabbi of Ukraine Yaakov Dov Bleich attended the ceremony of sanctification of the future “Remember” Memorial Complex to victims of WWII in Ukraine in the territory of the former Jewish cemetery in Sambir, Lviv region.
The ceremony was to seal the compromise achieved earlier: to move three crosses from the territory of the Jewish cemetery and to erect a monument to 17 young Ukrainians, OUN members, who were shot by the Nazi in July 1944. Prior to the ceremony, beautification work was done on the cemetery and its large Jewish common grave was covered with plates. The grave contains remains of around 1,200 members of the Sambir Jewish community killed by the Nazis. Participants in the ceremony said memorial prayers over the common grave of Ukrainian nationalists and the large common grave of Holocaust victims.
Unfortunately, the preliminary agreements were not executed in full, and two out of three Christian symbols were not moved from the Jewish cemetery to a place agreed upon earlier. We would like to emphasize the need to accomplish this process in full, in keeping with the earlier agreements.
Of greatest concern is the fact that attempts to find a compromise in resolving this complex issue of honoring the victims of Nazism from among different nationalities, religions and political views, gained anti-Semitic comments and sharp and incorrect criticism with clear Ukrainophobic coloring in some mass media and social networks. These were aimed at the activities of the Kiev Jewish community, members of the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter and other active parties in the project.
In view of this situation, the Coordination Council of the Vaad of Ukraine is hereby:
- expressing full confidence in and support of the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter, the Kiev City Jewish Community and Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich in their efforts to memorialize Nazi victims and organize the mourning ceremony in Sambir;
- calling everyone to self-restraint in one’s assessments and statements on this situation;
- calling journalists to use only verified information and to seek comments from direct participants in the events only;
- resolutely condemning all provocative posts and comments on the situation in Sambir spread about by the mass media and social networks in order to fuel negative emotions.
September 11, 2019 Kyiv