Construction on Mass Graves of Holocaust Victims in Ukraine Provokes Protest

Israel's ambassador to Ukraine pens letter to the mayor of the town that is home to the graves, demanding to abandon the plans to destroy the location that Yad Vashem has toiled to uncover

File Photo: Volunteers perform the final rites before burying the remains of Holocaust victims at a cemetery just outside Brest, Belarus, Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Uladz Hrydzin / AP

Planned construction in Ukraine atop mass graves of Holocaust victims prompted strong-worded protest by Jewish community leaders and Israel.

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) expressed its “outrage” on Tuesday in a statement about the prospect of construction on the mass graves of thousands of Jews murdered in the central Ukrainian city of Poltava by the Nazis.

Joel Lion, Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine, wrote a letter on June 13 to Oleksandr Shamota, the acting mayor of the town, demanding the plans be abandoned. Lion noted that Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum and research institution, determined the location of the mass graves based on multiple testimonies.

That construction is envisioned on the site of these mass graves “is deeply troubling,” WJC President Ronald S. Lauder stated. “It is critical in 2019, with rising nationalism and increasing attempts by some to whitewash history, that we work together to ensure that sites such as this one are preserved so they may serve as a reminder to the world of what can happen when hatred is permitted to thrive unchecked,” he added.