Ceremony marks murder of Pushkin Jews 70 years ago

About 100 people gathered in suburb of St. Petersburg – believed to be northernmost point where Nazis implemented plan to annihilate the Jews.

By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER, JPOST CORRESPONDENT
September 11, 2011 22:39
1 minute read.
Yad Vashem [Illustrative photo]

Yad Vashem 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

 
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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 years ago.

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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In 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.

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