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In a Ukraine forest, terrible events of 75 years ago given resonance by handful of survivors

editor - 10 May 2017

By Sue Surkes.. Uman, Ukraine — As veterans across Europe turned out this week (May 5 – 9, 2017) for annual ceremonies to commemorate the end of World War ll, some 70 Christians and Jews gathered Monday (May 8, 201) in a forest clearing in central Ukraine to unveil a memorial to 1,000 Jewish children murdered by the Nazis in April 1942. The event – on the outskirts of the city of Uman — was an ode to reconciliation. A German pastor from Heidelberg, Johannes Zink, asked forgiveness on behalf of “fathers and grandfathers who may have been involved” in Nazi atrocities. A Jerusalem rabbi, Chaim Eisen, spoke about the importance of building bridges.


Memorial next to newly covered grave of Jewish kids shot by Nazis in 1942. The mass grave was decorated with children’s toys for the ceremony on May 9, 2017. (Sue Surkes)


Local and district authority representatives lauded the twinning between Uman and the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon and promised that local pupils would look after Jewish graves. Ukrainian schoolchildren lit memorial candles and recited poetry.

And yet just three days before, in a country with a history of anti-Semitism, Ukrainian nationalists daubed Nazi swastikas and the words “tolerance is weakness” on headstones in a Jewish cemetery in Cherkasy, some 185 kilometers (115 miles) to the northeast. Read the full story.

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