please post: 1st Attempt at Perspective on Conference on Ukraine from a participant #general

Peter Zavon <pzavon@...>

"karen roekard" <roekard@...> wrote
Often people who had been shot were still alive and the ground would heave
for three days.
Observations of this sort have often been used in describing the horror of the mass
murders. Without suggesting in any way that people were not buried alive, I think
it is important to note for accuracy that the observation of earth moving for three
days, if taken alone, is not proof that buried people were still alive during that
time. The processes of rigor mortis, and the release of gasses >from dead bodies,
is sufficient by itself to produce just this effect at a recent mass burial site.
Peter Zavon
Penfield, NY

roe kard

Dear all - Gut Voch >from Yerushalayim.
I participated in the conference (October 1st & 2nd) in Paris on the Holocaust
in Ukraine. Father Patrick DesBois is an amazing man who was a close protege of
Cardinal Lustiger A"H. The conference itself was significant, sometimes boring/
often fascinating and always profoundly disturbing. It is the first time Ukrainian
scholars have come to the table to talk about the Holocaust. The major differences
among the western Europeans and the North Americans and the Ukrainians, was clearly
based on their intellectual and spiritual internal frames of reference, the ways
history was/is taught to each group, the currently acceptable sources of
information in each geographic area and then how each needs to present history to
themselves and others.
>from my perspective as an independent 'scholar,' (apparently that is what I am
called), and divorcing myself >from the emotions touched, as many of the
presentations were presented in a rather matter-of-fact way, too many of them had
an astonishingly narrow perspective, almost as if history did not exist before or
after the Holocaust and then nothing else affected their narrow sphere of interest
e.g. it took till the last summary session for Omer Bartov (Brown U - G!d bless
him) to bring up the rather significant fact that after the Ukrainians/Germans
wiped out the Jews, the Ukrainians then perpetrated an "ethnic cleansing" of Poles
from Western Ukraine. He talked about the fact that our mutual histories must be
looked at over the course of centuries and at the same time, >from a microhistorical
(a bottoms-up approach with confirmation >from at least two sources) perspective,
and that this is where the most accurate picture of what happened on the ground can
be derived (another reason why Father Patrick's work is so important). The history
is one of Jews-Ukrainians AND Poles and a history of individuals and more
individuals and more individuals, affected by their internal realities, the context
within which they lived and their choices of how to relate to their world.
Father Patrick made the critical point that one of the things he has discovered
is that people were drafted to work for the Nazis: e.g. individuals would be
ordered: "you bring a shovel" and "you bring a cart" and "you bring a cooking pot",
etc. without being told the reason. Then they would find out that they had no
choice but to dig graves or carry bodies of Jews who had already been shot or cook
food for the murderers, etc. At the end of each 'layer' of killings, young women
would be ordered to tamp down the bodies in a pit to make more room for more
bodies. Often people who had been shot were still alive and the ground would heave
for three days. The point was made several times that the line between willing and
unwilling "collaboration" was not always clear; that often people who were
"collaborators" might also be hiding their neighbors child - that it is not always
easy, or black and white, to say who was a "good guy" (righteous gentile) and who
was a "bad" guy (collaborator). And, all this does not take away >from the fact that
the Ukrainians were often willing collaborators and sadistic (my word) in their
behavior. The most horrifying revelation was that the Nazis did not want to waste
bullets on children so children were often buried or burned alive. Think: 1.5
million children or 1 million or 100,000 or 100 or even 1. And they went home to
their own children. It is overwhelming to ponder and it was horrifying to hear....
several times.
My sister, who has not had my intense involvement with things Holocaust and
Ukrainian, has lost her faith in G!d; I have lost my faith in historians and
teachers of history, (having had no faith in man for a while now). Wishing
everyone a shana tova - a year of health, safety, peace, joy and prosperity on
whatever level you need it.

B'shalom, karen roekard aka gitl chaye eta rosenfeld rokart

Karen Roekard's ADDENDUM: (1) Each presenter to the conference on the Holocaust in
Ukraine brought some valuable piece of information, however limited in scope, to
the entirety of the puzzle of what happened in Ukraine in WWII. It will just take a
long, long time to integrate it all; (2) The Ukrainians were incredibly brave to
show up and risk being labeled "Judeophile's" given that Delphine Bechtel
(Sorbonne) claimed Western Ukrainian professor and author, Yaroslav Hrytsaki, has
been called this by fellow Ukrainians and she was even critical of his books >from a
western perspective;(3) And, the women panelists and attendees were most
consistent in claiming that 'the emperor has no clothes' and in speaking truth. The
final audience speaker, an eastern European woman, insisted (via simultaneous
translation) on her truth, certainly different >from those Westerners willing to
give an opinion. She feels that it is important not to publish the names of the
informants because their children and grandchildren are still alive. "Why should we
point a finger at each other?" She went on to remind the audience and panel that
"we form public opinion, how future generations will live - being tolerant or
not.. Ukraine wants to become a member of the European community."
This morning,as we talked again about issues raised at the conference, my very
amazing sister, Sheila Zucker, a journalist with Israel Broadcasting News, raised
what are, ultimately, the most important macro level questions to emerge. She
asked: "How will we/the world take what was presented, what Father Patrick DesBois
is doing in Ukraine, to affect stopping what is going on in Darfur right now? How
many times, in how many places are we going to have to repeat this? Can humanity
actually learn anything even if we study history?Are the Jews doomed to be Job
forever?" Enough. I could write for hours and hours, and over time I probably will
as I continue to integrate the vast amount of ideas, research, and feelings that
were presented and that emerged.