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The emotionally laden, second international working trip to Ukraine included a Swiss national, eleven Germans and an Italian. The main reason thereof is the limited knowledge, in Western Europe, about the Ukrainian Holocaust!
The testimonies of Rita Schweibes (one of the few survivors) at a mass grave in a forest close to the village of Pechora, and of Boris Zabarko, author of many books about the Holocaust in Baby Yar, Kiev, deeply impacted the small group. A total of approximately 1,7 million Jews were killed by bullets, babies and smaller children were buried alive. In Transnistria - the Romanian occupied area where Jews were left to fend for themselves - many died of starvation and illness.
|Rita Schweibes shares her story|
|Visit to one of the mass graves|
This working trip was special because of the many meetings with both Holocaust survivors and Ukrainians who sheltered and protected Jews! Shortly after arriving, the group met Nataliya, our Aliyah worker, in the ‘hiding place’ in Kiev. She explained, in detail, the drastic impact the situation in the east had on our working situation since May 2014. And she shared that many Jews who escape from the east, request our assistance for both shelter and assistance in making aliyah to Israel.
We then headed in the direction of Vinnitsa, to prepare and later distribute 1,500 food parcels, and meet with Jewish people to inform them who we are. We also set time apart to ask for forgiveness for all that was done to the Jewish people during the Second World War in Ukraine. Many Jewish mass graves do not yet have memorials yet. Therefore, Christians for Israel officially erects and unveils three to four memorials per year. When we unveiled a small Holocaust memorial- accompanied by many speeches - on the mass grave of 1,200 Jews, we were joined by the residents of the small town of Veliki Korivka and the Jewish community of Berschad and Uman.
Despite the full and intense working trip we attempted to relax and talk in the evenings. The group was extensively informed about the project ‘Bring the Jews Home’, and they had the opportunity to speak to Jewish families who will be leaving soon for Israel. In summarizing the journey, the participants said: ‘we were privileged to partake in this exceptional experience, but are now tasked with sharing it with others, and praying for the Jews in Ukraine: that they will heed the voice of the Almighty, calling them to return to the land of their forefathers!’
A few participants hope to return, accompanied by others, next year! We, the Aliyah workers in Ukraine, are thankful for the visit from Germany, Switzerland and Italy!
|A new Holocaust memorial was unveiled|
|Preparing and distributing 1,500 food parcels|
|Delivering the food parcels|