[The Article is from the local newspaper Krichev’s Life and is translated from Russian.]
Memory Has No Borders
Nobody is Forgotten, Nothing is Forgotten
The War this is the most tragic terrible event in the history of the Belarussian people. The inhumane Nazis were systematically murdering the peaceful population – woman, children old people. The losses of Belarus were enormous. Every fourth person in Belarus, some people say even one in three, were killed in the war, fighting in the Red Army, fighting in partisan units, fighting in the underground, or murdered in concentration camps in the occupied territory of Belarus. One out of every three murdered was a Jew. This a terrible word “Holocaust”. It means systematically murdering the Jewish people by German Nazis and collaborators in other nations. In Belarus the Holocaust was terrible. 80% of the Jews of Belarus were murdered. On Belarussian territory, there are about 500 places where the Nazis were murdering Jews. At the same time, many Belarussian people were risking their own lives saving the Jews.
It is worth noting that in Israel people keep the memory of these noble people who were called Righteous of the Nations. Among them about 790 Belarussians, but in actuality the number who were trying to save the Jews was much higher.
On this sunny Sunday, the people of Krichev were welcoming guests – Representatives of the Lazarus Foundation, Michael and Diana Lazarus and Cary Kletter and Gilel Klebanov from the USA. Our city was also visited from the representative of the Union of Belarussian Jewish Organizations, Boris Gersten, the coordinator Igor Kraversky, and press secretary Viktoria Demeduk also the President of United Jewish Religious Communities of Belarus, Vladimir Malinkin, the chief Rabbi of Jewish Religious Organizations in Belarus, Mordechai Raichstein. The guests were met by the chairwoman of the Krichev local council of deputies Irina Prudnikova, deputy chairwoman Janna Dmitrieva and Local Chief of Ideology Culture and Youth Affairs Vadim Ryscoff.
A memorial ceremony was held in Kirchev next to the monument for victims of Nazism that was put in the park next to the cement factory club in memory of Jews who were murdered there. It is very symbolic that next to this monument is the monument that was erected in memory of 18,000 prisoners of war of the Red Army who were murdered by Germans in the same area during WWII because many Jews were fighting in partisan detachments on different in fronts, who lost their lives fighting against fascism. Many people who spoke during the ceremony were talking about their common memory that needs to be preserved. During the ceremony there was a minute of silence in memory of the Jews of the Kirchev Region who died during WWII.
The chief Rabbi of Jewish Religious Affairs in Belarus, Mordechai Raichinstein read the prayer for the deceased [El Molel Rachamim]. The speakers also expressed gratitude to the local authorities for assistance and gratitude to the Lazarus Foundation who provided sponsorship for the erection of the memorials for Jews murdered by Nazis during WWII.
There was another ceremony in the field next to the village Molyatichi where the monument was erected in memory of the Jews of the village Antonavka, annihilated by Nazis. The Lazarus Foundation group sponsored the erection of 99 memorials in order to keep the memory of the departed alive and this work is continuing.
During the German Fascist occupation of Belarus, over 2,900 villages were destroyed, 628 of them were burned to the ground together with the people who lived in them. 186 of these villages were never rebuilt. The memory of these villages who suffered this same fate is memorialized in the symbolic cemetary of the villages built in place of the destroyed village Hatyn. The same happed to the village of Antonavka in the Krichev region. On November 14, 1941 the Nazis brutally murdered over 90 Jews who were living in Antonovka. Documents were discovered when the massacre site was excavated that show that 13 people were found in this location, including a child found in its mother’s arms who was buried alive. In addition the body of a 3 year old child was found buried alive, which proves the depravity of the Nazi actions. In 2004 the former principal of the school of Molyatichi Lena Kobazova together with the students of the school put a memorial sign in memory of the victims of Antonavka. Later at the same location the memorial was built with the sponsorship of the Lazarus Foundation group. At the ceremony, speeches were also made by the chairwoman of the local executive committee Janna Demitrieva, the Local Chief of Ideology Vadim Riscoff, the head of Molyatechi Village council Elena Ivanova, guests of the Kirchev region including Michael Lazarus, founder of the Lazarus Foundation and Stanislav Demitrochenko a student of a local school who read a poem by Andrey Dememtev “Ballad of a Soldier”. People who were assembled that day at the memorial listened to the very touching words of this poem about a mother’s futile wait for her son to come back from war. A local resident Lena Cobozova told the story about one of the residents of Molatechi who was honored as a righteous gentile for saving three Jewish girls who were able to escape from the Nazis. One of them, Yelena Feigina applied at the Yad Vashem institute to nominate her for the righteous gentile designation. Fekla Veselina-Tkacheva who risked her own life to save these Jews was awarded this honorary designation. Her name was placed on the Path of the Righteous Gentiles in Yad Vashem. Her daughter Tamara Grigorevna Lavrenova spoke at the ceremony and people were listening to her with great interest. Janna Demitrieva recalled the words on the of the guests who said that memorial cannot speak, because of that, people must speak for the people of the Krichev region who perished during WWII. In the museum of our city, there is an exhibit dedicated to WWII. In the Krichev area there are about 35 military burial places, and 20 memorial sites dedicated to the defenders of the fatherland. On the day that Krichev was liberated from the Fascists and on the day of the liberation of the People of Belarus, citizens bring flowers and honor the heros and victims of WWII. Witnesses of WWII who are still alive retell the stories of the heros and victims of the war. WWII affected every citizen of Belarus. Many people were killed at the front, murdered in concentration camps, died from wounds and illnesses from and after the war. The representative of the local authorities expressed gratitude toward people who gave money, designed and erected the memorial. This is our common memory and it is holy. In conclusion there was another prayer for innocent people murdered by the Nazis.