Friday, November 18, 2022

‘Shocking’ discovery of huge 100-year-old Jewish mass grave


Rabbi Pinchas Salzman stands with soldiers in a Jewish mass grave in Transnistria

An enormous mass grave dating back to the Russian Revolution has been discovered in the Transnistria region of Moldova, in which most of the dead bodies belonged to Jews who were accused of opposing the communist regime.

Moldova’s Chief Rabbi Pinchas Salzman, who has launched an initiative to disinter the dead bodies and give them a proper Jewish burial, said the discovery was “shocking.”

The grave was uncovered during construction in an old military base near Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Transnistria is a separatist state under Russian military control whose independence from Moldova is not recognized internationally.

The grave, which is the third grave of its kind in the region, contains the remains of thousands of bodies of people killed between 1917-1930 — most of whom were shot — under the bloody rules of Vladimir Lenin and his successor Joseph Stalin. According to estimates, there are six or seven more mass graves with the numbers of Jews buried in them reaching into the tens of thousands.

Excavators also discovered thousands of documents recording the names and details of those killed, including women and children, in each of the mass graves and the crime for which they were sentenced to death.

The documents also describe the lives of Jewish people under communist rule, the Jewish schools that were active underground, the effort they made to contact Jewish organizations in the world, and the local organizations which carried out Jewish activities in hiding.

The President of the Republic, Vadim Krasnoselski, reached out to Salzman, and asked that the perished victims finally receive the respect they deserve with a proper burial and a monument erected in their memory.

“The earth is soaked in the blood of innocent Jews and non-Jews, during that time terrible acts were committed on our land that deserve all condemnation and our job is to make sure that such acts do not happen again, God forbid,” Krasnoselski said.

Together with Yuriy Kreichman, chairman of the Jewish community in Tiraspol, and volunteers from all over the world, Salzman has begun a process of mapping the mass graves for proper burial, taking care not to “disturb the rest of the murdered, according to the Jewish law,” he said.

“It is incomprehensible, to the human mind, [to think] how the communist government treated people just because of their religion and beliefs,” he added.

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