Over 1,000 Holocaust Victims Laid to Rest

Discovered bodies from 1941-1942

Over 1,200 Jewish victims of the Holocaust was buried with honor on May 22 in the Eastern European country of Belarus. Their remains were stumbled upon by construction workers earlier in 2019 when they were excavating to build a couple of luxury residential apartments. The disturbing discovery was made in Brest, a city located in the southwestern part of the country and which was once home to a large Jewish population before to the Second World War.

Soldiers were ordered in, and the bones of the victims were exhumed from the site, confirmed to be Jewish ghetto during the Nazi years, 1941 to 1942. Approximately 28,000 Jews were held in the ghetto until it was destroyed in 1942. About 17,000 residents were forced to leave their Brest residences and subsequently executed. The fate of many other victims is still unknown.

The skulls of the victims had bullet holes and several personal items like shoes, worn out clothes, and wallets. As per ZAKA, the volunteer organization specializing in search and rescue, the Holocaust victims were carried away from the construction site and reburied side-by-side within 120 blue coffins having the Star of David emblem. The new burial ground is located outside the city. To the dismay of many Jews, the Brest city authorities did not revoke the developer’s building permit on the ground where the skeletons were initially discovered. The construction was allowed to go on.

The victims of the Holocaust were buried as per Jewish customs with about 300 Brest city officials in attendance. Diplomats and Jewish community leaders were also present. A local rabbi led the ceremony. Attendees took turns to scatter earth on the caskets before the filling up of the pit. Alon Shoham, the Israeli ambassador, posted in Belarus, said that the soul ascends to heaven by this process, and it was essential that Jewish customs be followed. Regina Simonenko, a Jewish community member, told the media after the funeral that her feelings were mixed during the rituals, but it was vital that the victims of the Holocaust were finally laid to rest.

Many expressed their unhappiness about the decision of the government to allow the construction company to continue building on the site. One of them was Marcel Drimer, a Holocaust survivor, now 85-years-old. Although he was happy the slaughtered Jews received a decent burial, he is also sad that the Belarussian Government permitted construction to come upon what he terms “sacred site.”

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