Ukrainians Unearth Hiding Places of Jews in City Sewers During Nazi Holocaust/Tech Savvy Holocaust Memorial Draws Criticism #ukraine #holocaust
Jan Meisels Allen
Diggers Andriy Ryshtun and Oleksandr Ivanov explore the city sewage system where dozens of Jews were hiding from the Nazis during World War Two in Lviv, Ukraine September 25, 2021. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Under cobblestone streets in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, diggers have uncovered new hiding spots in underground sewers where some Jews managed to flee from Nazi occupying forces during World War Two.
More than 100,000 Jews, or around one third of Lviv’s population at the time, were killed by the Nazis, according to the local historian Hanna Tychka.
Father and daughter Ignacy and Krystyna Chiger, who escaped from the Jewish ghetto by digging a tunnel to the city's sewage system, and later wrote books recounting their experiences. They recently uncovered the exact area where Chiger's family lived in 1943-1944, using the books as a guide.
In Lyiv, Tychka and her team in July discovered a tiny cave where they believe Jews fleeing the ghetto would spend their first night before moving on to a larger shelter in the sewage system.
Of the original group of 21, only 10 including the Chigers and Halina survived the ordeal.
The Mirror Field monument displays columns shot with bullets of the same caliber as those used in the massacre. Credit...
Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times
Ukraine this week marks the 80th anniversary of the massacre at Babyn Yar, web-savvy advertising, modern art installations and audience-grabbing techniques like online gaming have become an integral part of a well-funded effort to update Holocaust commemoration.
The tech-heavy approach has drawn criticism from traditionalists, who say it dishonors the solemnity of the topic. The Nazis shot tens of thousands of Jews, Roma, Ukrainian and Russian prisoners of war at Babyn Yar, as wells as patients from psychiatric hospitals and others. Many of the original advisory team resigned in 2019 to protest the high-tech sensibility of the art director
The anniversary ceremonies culminate on Wednesday with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish, visiting the site and unveiling a modern art installation, the Crystal Wall of Crying. The full museum complex is expected to cost more than $100 million, about half donated by Russian oligarchs, and it is scheduled for completion in 2025.
The massacre at Babyn Yar, also known as Babi Yar, was one of the most notorious of World War II. In late September 1941, soon after German army entered Kyiv, the city’s Jews were told to gather near a train station in order to be resettled. Crowds of people, including many women and children, followed the order but when they arrived with their belongings, they were forced to undress and gather in a ravine. People were shot in small groups, more than 33,000 in a two-day period according to historians, and further mass shootings took place at the site throughout the war.
“The narrative that is being promoted is anti-Ukrainian in nature,” Mykhailo Basarab, an historian, said of the plans for Babyn Yar. “There are great fears the memorial complex is being built with Russian money to expose Ukrainians in the world as anti-Semites and xenophobes. And this is beneficial to Putin.”
Babyn Yar organizers say they will raise 50 percent of the funding inside Ukraine
Jan Meisels Allen
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee