Coffins, containing the bones of over 1000 Jews murdered in Holocaust await burial in Belarus..
(photo credit: USA EMBASSY MINSK)
Belarus, with cooperation from the US government and Zaka, held a Jewish burial service on Wednesday and laid to rest 1,214 Jewish bodies discovered earlier this year in a mass grave in the city of Brest.
The bodies were uncovered during construction work in the city of Brest on Belarus’s western border near Poland. It was one of the largest mass graves discovered in Belarus from World War II. Brest is known among Jews by its Yiddish name, Brisk and was home to the Soloveichiks, an illustrious rabbinic family.
The bodies – men, women and children – were placed inside 120 coffins. The construction site where they were found used to be located in the Brest Ghetto during the Holocaust.
Paul Packer, chairman of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, said at the ceremony that the reburial ceremony was an opportunity for the world to reaffirm its commitment to never forgetting the atrocities of the Holocaust.
“As we remember those whose lives were taken here, we must also renew our commitment to never forget all the victims of the Holocaust, and to never again allow such evils to be committed against the Jews or any other people,” Packer said. “We must reaffirm our duty to fight against the rising tide of antisemitism, and all other forms of bigotry, that threaten to plunge us once again into the darkness.”
During World War II, the city of Brest, then part of the Soviet Union, was attacked on June 22, 1941. The German forces are believed to have shot up to 5,000 people in the first few days after the city fell. Around 20,000 Jews were forced into a ghetto in late 1941. The ghetto was in existence until it was liquidated in October 1942.
Overall, the Nazis killed three million civilians in Belarus, of whom 800,000 were Jewish.
A famous native of Brest, Menachem Begin, missed the Nazi invasion and served a sentence in Soviet labor camps instead.
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