Russian Jewish Congress to Unveil 10 Monuments to Holocaust Victims in 4 Russian Regions in September
Ten monuments and memorials to Holocaust victims will be unveiled by the Russian Jewish Congress (RJC) in September 2016 in four Russian regions as part of the “Restoring Dignity” project.
The project is the brainchild of RJC President Yuri Kanner. Since 2010, the Russian Jewish Congress has been working consistently to immortalize the names of victims and install monuments at sites of mass executions of Jews by Nazis and their collaborators during World War II. More than 20 monuments have been unveiled since then.
The RJC marks its 20th anniversary in 2016. To mark this milestone, the Congress will unveil 20 more monuments this year, 10 of them in September alone. In this important undertaking the RJC has partnered with the Holocaust Center to rally the efforts of the federal and regional authorities, the Christian organization Ebenezer, Federal Jewish National and Cultural Autonomy, Jewish communities and organizations, the Names Recovery Project of the Israeli Yad Vashem Memorial, surviving witnesses, relatives of victims, historians, archivists, regional ethnographers and local residents.
The project has been supported by the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
The year 2016 is also the 75th anniversary of the Holocaust. There are over 500 sites of mass executions of Jews during the Holocaust years, the majority of which are unmarked by memorials. The Russian Jewish Congress has embarked on a mission to install monuments at all such sites.
The monument unveiling ceremonies will be attended by representatives of the RJC, the Holocaust Center, regional and local authorities, the Ebenezer Foundation, Jewish communities and organizations, local community, teachers and students, media representatives, relatives of victims and local residents.
There is a unique tragic history behind every monument. Media representatives will be able to interview the few remaining surviving witnesses, historians, researchers, RJC and public officials.
Below is a schedule of monument and memorial unveiling ceremonies:
1. September 7, Zunda Tolga, Republic of Kalmykia
2. September 8, Arzgir, Stavropol Krai
3. September 9, Nevdakhin, Stavropol Krai
4. September 9, Mineralnye Vody, Stavropol Krai – renovation of a monument
5. September 19, Spasskoe, Stavropol Krai
6. September 20, two monuments in Shishkino, Stavropol Krai
7. September 21, Loknya, Pskov Oblast
8. September 21, Novoromanovskoe, Stavropol Krai
9. September 22, Serafimovskoe, Stavropol Krai
10. September 22 or 23 (to be updated), Novozybkov, Bryansk Oblast
A 12-year-old boy managed to escape an execution by a firing squad in Kalmykia (village of Zunda Tolga). He went on to assume the last name of the family that saved his life. The people who rescued him were awarded the title of the Righteous Among The Nations. His son is the current Chairman of the Arzgir Administration. In the village of Arzgir where 675 Jews were executed, a 6-month-old baby girl survived after being miraculously smuggled out of the village by her mother. She currently resides in Moscow. Victims' bones are buried in a deep trench. Some of them have been washed away by water. As part of efforts to rebury the remains, the Ebenezer Foundation has installed a memorial to be unveiled on September 8.
A monument with the Star of David will be moved to its original location in Mineralnye Vody. It was installed in 1944 by workers of a local glass factory and victims' relatives. Ilya Erenburg wrote about it in his Black Book. The monument had been toppled and had lain on the ground for several decades.
Anatoly Karnaukh, ethnographer and member of the Russian Union of Journalists, played a key role in getting the monuments installed in Stavropol Krai: he ascertained the sites of mass executions by firing squad, recorded witness testimonies, searched for and found victims' relatives in Russia and beyond.