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Ukrainian city remembers Jews on Holocaust anniversary

Andriy Sadoviy, right, the mayor of Lviv, Ukraine, presents a glass copy of an old metal synagogue key to Yanina Hescheles, Polish writer and a Nazi concentration camp survivor, at a ceremony Sept. 2, 2018, marking the 75th anniversary of the annihilation of the city's Jewish population by Nazi Germany. Lviv, once a major center of Jewish life in Eastern Europe, is commemorating the anniversary and honoring those working today to preserve that vanished world. The commemoration comes amid a larger attempt in Ukraine to preserve the memories of the prewar Jewish community. (AP Photo/Yevheniy Kravs)

LVIV, Ukraine (AP) — The Ukrainian city of Lviv, once a major center of Jewish life in Eastern Europe, is commemorating the 75th anniversary of the annihilation of the city’s Jewish population by Nazi Germany and honoring those working today to preserve what they can of that vanished world.

City authorities presented the honored recipients Sunday (Sept. 2) with 75 glass keys — replicas of a metal key that once belonged to a Jewish synagogue and that an American artist found at a street market in Lviv. The anniversary events, which included a concert performance at the ruins of former synagogues, come amid other attempts to revive suppressed memories of the Jews who once were an integral part of the region.

“God forbid our city once suffered such a misfortune,” Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said at the ceremony. “Today we cannot even imagine for a moment the pain, humiliation and grief that thousands of Lviv’s people suffered in the last century.”

Iryna Matsevko, deputy director of the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe and an organizer of the anniversary events in Lviv, said it was the first time the western Ukrainian city has acknowledged the historical preservation efforts in such an extensive way.

Consciousness is growing in Ukrainian society of the need to remember the Jews who were annihilated by Nazi forces, with the participation of local people in some cases, during the German occupation of Eastern Europe, Matsevko said.

Initiatives have included introducing Jewish history courses at universities, new research by young Ukrainian scholars and grassroots efforts by volunteers, such as the ones that recovered Jewish gravestones that were used to pave roads and returned them to cemeteries.

“This is part of the process of reviving the memory of the Jewish heritage. Of course, this process is slow. I want it to be quicker, but for the last 10 years we have seen how the Jewish heritage is returning to people’s consciousness and a lot of activities are taking place,” Matsevko said. “It is very important that people are being acknowledged for their work in Jewish heritage.”

Before World War II, Lviv and the surrounding area belonged to Poland. Then called Lwow, it was the third-largest Jewish community in prewar Poland after Warsaw and Lodz, with most working as merchants, manufacturers or artisans. Before World War I, Lviv and the surrounding area were part of the eastern Galicia region of the Austro-Hungarian empire and the city was called by its German name, Lemberg.

In June 1941, Germany attacked the Soviet Union, its former ally. When the German forces entered the city, they and their Ukrainian collaborators massacred Jews in the city and countryside. While occupying the area, Germans murdered Jews in the ghetto, the Belzec death camp and a forced labor camp, Janowska, with the final annihilation occurring in 1943, the anniversary observed on Sunday.

Of a population of about 150,000 Jews, only an estimated 1 percent survived.

In the postwar years, with Ukraine part of the Soviet Union, the memories of the murdered Jews began to vanish. Historian Omer Bartov has called the area a “land of memory and oblivion, coexistence and erasure, high hopes and dashed illusions.”

The remembrance work is taking place as Ukraine finds itself mired in crisis and conflict following Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and a continuing Russia-backed insurgency in the east. Nationalism has been on the rise, and some Ukrainians laud the Nazi-affiliated irregulars who fought against the Soviet army in World War II.

To what extent this has led to greater anti-Semitism is a matter of dispute. Some of the people trying to sustain the history of Jewish life in western Ukraine think the amount of anti-Semitism is exaggerated as part of a Russian propaganda effort.

Among those honored was Marla Raucher Osborn, an American who heads Rohatyn Jewish Heritage. The group’s projects include restoring a Jewish cemetery in nearby Rohatyn.

Osborn said she was honored to be acknowledged along with the local activists “working quietly in local communities, recovering Jewish memory with little or no knowledge of their projects outside of those communities, especially among the distant Jewish diaspora.”

The glass keys were the work of New Mexico-based artist Rachel Stevens, who found the rusted synagogue key on which they were based in February while seeking remnants of Jewish culture in eastern Galicia as part of a research project.

Stevens used glass for the replicas because in Jewish tradition the material “represents the fragility of life.” Creating them “became a tangible way for me to express my grief about the past and my hope for the future,” she said.

“The idea for this artwork seems almost mystically delivered to me,” Stevens said.

(Vanessa Gera reported from Warsaw, and Randy Herschaft from New York.)

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Yevheniy Kravs


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  • Nice to see–particularly since (iirc) Lvov and other Eastern European cities were sites of especially high rates of brutality and death.

  • Patrick Desbois has done a great deal to uncover the destruction of the Jewish communities of Ukraine.

  • Ukrainian city remembers Jews on Holocaust anniversary
    Matthew 21:7-11
    7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
    Horrifying as the experience of Jewish annihilation of the city of Lviv was, Covenant promises of YHWH-God are not forgotten. Messiah will balance the scales of justice. History is filled with disobedience to YHWH-God’ Covenant and Laws. In Matthew 10:6 Rabbi Jesus of Nazareth told his disciples to go the lost sheep of the house of Israel. In Luke 19:10, Jesus came to seek and save the lost.

  • The Lord Jesus Christ is an Israelite from the tribe of Judah, via his mother the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was of the lineage of David (Psalm 132:11; Luke 1:32). King David is described as “ruddy” in 1 Samuel 16:12, & 1 Samuel 17:42.

    Modern Jewry DOES NOT descend from the Biblical 12 Tribes of Israel. Contemporary Jewish sources admit that Modern Jewry is primarily descended from Edomites who were forcibly converted to Judaism by the Hasmonean leader Johanan Hyrcanus in 130BC, as recorded by the historians Flavius Josephus and Strabo. [Note: The Greeks and Romans referred to the Edomites as Idumeans]. In Jewish Virtual Library, under the heading, Johanan [John] Hyrcanus, it states: “On the southern front he forced Judah’s neighbors in Idumea [descendents of the Edomites] to accept Judaism.

    FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS: “Antiquities of the Jews” Book 13: Chapter 9, Section 1.
    Hyrcanus took also Dora, and Marissa, cities of Idumea, and subdued all the Idumeans; and permitted them to stay in that country, if they would circumcise their genitals, and make use of the laws of the Jews; and they were so desirous of living in the country of their forefathers, that they submitted to the use of circumcision, and of the rest of the Jewish ways of living; at which time therefore this befel them, that they were hereafter no other than Jews.

    STRABO: “Geography” Book 16 Chapter 2 Section 34.
    The western extremities of Judæa towards Casius are occupied by Idumæans, and by the lake [Sirbonis]. The Idumæans are Nabatæans. When driven from their country by sedition, they passed over to the Jews, and adopted their customs.

    P.S. Knowing the above, it begins to make more sense that the Apostle John spoke of impostors [Revelation 2:9, Revelation 3:9] who “SAY THEY ARE JEWS, AND ARE NOT” labelling them the “SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN.” Romans 9:13 “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but ESAU HAVE I HATED.” Genesis 36:9 “And these are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in mount Seir:” P.S. The complete extermination of ESAU’S EDOMITE OFFSPRING, [which Modern Jewry descends from] is foretold in Obadiah 1:9, Obadiah 1:18.

  • They just made a movie about it last year (Bitter Harvest). There was also one in 1991 (Famine 33).

    So yes.

    As a known malicious liar, we can ignore your last remark as typical neo nazi garbage.