Yad Vashem 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
PUSHKIN, Russia – About 100 people gathered in this suburb of St. Petersburg –
believed to be the northernmost point where the Nazis implemented their plan to
annihilate the Jews – to remember the brutal killings that took place here 70
The ceremony Friday was attended by dignitaries including
Immigrant Absorption Minister Marina Solodkin, American Jewish Joint
Distribution Committee head Steve Schwager and Canadian Jewish businessman and
philanthropist Matthew Bronfman was organized by Jewish educational outfit
Limmud FSU to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the massacre.
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September 1941, the Jews of Pushkin were rounded up and marched in a column to
the nearby gardens of the baroque palace built by Alexander I. There they were
shot one by one and buried in common graves.
“The battle hadn’t even ended
and immediately Einsatzgruppen showed up and began to murder Jews in this area,”
said Aharon Weiss, an Israeli Holocaust survivor originally from Poland who
attended the ceremony. “This emphasizes the importance that the Nazis saw in
their ideology as part of their war effort.”
The number of those killed
in that “aktion,” the term the Nazis used for operations involving the assembly,
deportation and murder of Jews, is uncertain, as is the precise date, although
it is known to have taken place in September.
“There may have been 200,
300 Jews killed that day or perhaps many more,” said Alexander Frenkel, the
executive director of the Jewish Community Center of St. Petersburg. “It
is impossible to say. This whole area is a graveyard not just of Jews but of
Germans and Russians.”
For Jews living in St. Petersburg, the capture of
Pushkin and its environs by the Germans was the start of the siege of Leningrad
that lasted until January 1944. During those 900 days, up to 1,500,000 Soviet
soldiers and civilians died, and during the evacuation of 1,400,000 people,
mainly women and children, many more died due to starvation and bombardment.