96-year-old Holocaust Survivor Reportedly Killed in Kharkiv Airstrike

Boris Romanchenko's death highlights just 'how threatening the war in Ukraine is for concentration camp survivors,' memorial foundation says

Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.
Sam Sokol
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Volunteers remove debris of a damaged residential building in Kharkiv on Monday.
Volunteers remove debris from a damaged residential building in Kharkiv on Monday.Credit: Stringer/Reuters
Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.
Sam Sokol

A 96-year-old Holocaust survivor was reportedly killed in Ukraine in an airstrike on Kharkiv on Friday, as Russian forces continued to pound civilian neighborhoods across the country, causing hundreds of deaths and displacing millions.

Boris Romanchenko – a former inmate at the Buchenwald, Peenemünde, Mittelbau and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps, who isn't Jewish – was killed when a Russian bomb hit his apartment building, the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation said in a statement based on information from his family.

A tweet from the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation on Romanchenko's death.

The foundation said that the death of Romanchenko, who had long served as its regional vice president for Ukraine, highlighted just “how threatening the war in Ukraine is for concentration camp survivors.”

“We mourn the loss of a close friend. We wish his son and granddaughter, who sent us the sad news, much strength in these difficult times.”

According to the American Joint Distribution Committee, while many younger Ukrainians have been able to leave the country, tens of thousands of elderly Jews, including Holocaust survivors, have remained behind.

In one recent incident, a missile strike destroyed the home of a family of two Holocaust survivors in Kyiv, although both survived, the New York-based humanitarian organization told Haaretz last week.

Russia has claimed that the purpose of its invasion has been “to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine,” but the claim has been mocked by local Jews.

Russian strikes have destroyed several Jewish sites across Kharkiv and killed at least 902 civilians as of midnight local time on March 19, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said Sunday.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 10 million Ukrainians have been displaced, including some 3.4 million who have fled to neighboring countries such as Poland.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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