June 30, 2017

ESJF surveys on Jewish cemeteries in central and eastern Ukraine reveal alarming cases of desecration and neglect

As we continue with our national surveys of Jewish cemetery sites across Ukraine, we are already noting some alarming results of the true situation regarding Jewish burial sites in regions east of the Dnieper river. Jewish settlement in these areas occurred generally later than in the more western parts of the country, and while the density and sheer numbers of sites is less than in the West, there are still many sites in these areas, which of course, ceased to contain Jewish communities as a result of the Shoah.

The ESJF is now completing surveys of sites in Dnipropetrovsk oblast, having recently finished Poltava and Sumy oblasts. First results from these regions reveal urgent need for fencing at most sites, encroachment, destruction and vandalism. In some cases, empty graves have been discovered, with bones strewn across the surface of the sites. In cases such as these, the ESJF organizes immediate reburials with the closest Jewish communities in the area, makes contact with the local authorities and police to perform a sort of holding operation on the sites and prioritizes such cemeteries for future fencing projects. Data from these site surveys is shortly to be published by the ESJF. The ESJF has already surveyed close to 300 sites in Ukraine and expects to visit around 2,000 sites across the country during the next 12 months. In the west, Rivne oblast and most of Zakarpatia has been completed.

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