Ukraine / 06-02-2017
Zhytomyr - the looting of Jewish mass graves from the days of the Holocaust have become a widespread epidemic in the country, this emerges from reports in Ukraine. The looters desecrate the graves looking in search of gold teeth, jewelry and skulls which are sold openly in urban markets. In recent years dozens of such cases have been reported in cities in the Zhytomyr Oblast (province) in the west of the country, but most looters are never brought before justice.
The president of the European forum for Russian speaker Jews, Mikhail Ihodnin, says that Ukraine has many mass graves where thousands of Jews were buried who had been killed during the Holocaust years. “We are making efforts to finance concrete and maintenance works to prevent looting and to erect monuments so people would understand the meaning of the place, but unfortunately we do not have enough resources” the president of the forum said.
Despite conservation efforts, Ihodnin tells that the looters continue to desecrate the graves: “Seventy years after their horrific deaths, they are again humiliated and their graves are looted, this is absolutely inhuman”. Ihodin along with Dr. Dimitri Shiglick, a businessman living in New York who is a Ukraine-native, appealed to the Jewish communities in the country to join their cause: “We are calling upon Jews to take a more active role in defending the graves. Those criminals must be severely punished.”
The looting of graves belonging to Holocaust victims is prevalent throughout Eastern Europe. In one incident a year ago, the mass graves in the Extermination Camp of Sobibor were looted in search of treasures. According to historian Jan Gross, Poles dug up graves in sites throughout the countries where there had been mass murders of Jews after the end of World War II.