1,214 Jews Murdered in Holocaust Reburied in Mass Grave in Belarus

Construction workers discovered 120 coffins filled with the bodies of men, women and children near the border with Poland, where a Jewish ghetto once was

A soldier takes part in the exhumation of a mass grave containing the remains of about 730 prisoners of a former Jewish ghetto in the center of Brest, Belarus February 26, 2019.
\ VASILY FEDOSENKO/ REUTERS

The remains of 1,214 Jews murdered in the Holocaust were reburied in a mass grave in the city of Brest in Belarus on Tuesday after being found at a construction site in the center of the city four months ago. 

The search and rescue volunteer organization ZAKA, assisted by Belarus' military, reinterred the remains of hundreds of bodies discovered four months ago by construction workers digging the foundations for a new luxury housing project in Brest, known by Jews by its old Yiddish name, Brisk, near the border with Poland.

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ZAKA said that 120 coffins filled with 1,214 skeletons of men, women and children who were "brought from the killing field that was found at the beginning of the year at a construction site where a Jewish ghetto once lay." Personal items of the victims were found alongside the bodies, including clothing, shoes and wallets.

ZAKA volunterrs at the burial site in Brest, Belarus, May 21, 2019.
Courtesy of ZAKA

The rabbi of Brest, Chabad representative Rabbi Chaim Rabinowitz, ZAKA volunteers, local government officials and foreign ambassadors will attend a burial ceremony on Wednesday.

The mass grave, dug in the Jewish section of the cemetery, will be covered with dirt trucked in from the site where the remains were found.

Another large mass grave of Jews was found in recent months and is being excavated in the city of Niasviz in Belarus. About 4,000 Jews were killed there on October 30, 1941. In January, ZAKA volunteers used scuba gear to dive into Hungary's Danube River in an attempt to find the skeletons of the thousands of Jews whose bodies were thrown into the river after they were shot in the city in 1944 and 1945.  

Some 10,000 Jewish burial sites are spread throughout Europe. Many have not been documented and have been left abandoned for decades, usually since the end of World War II nearly three-quarters of a century ago. These sites continue to be exposed years after they disappeared from sight and memory.