This project is the first successful example of cooperation between the Russian Jewish Congress (RJC), the Russian Holocaust Center, and Russia’s Evangelical Christian communities. It is symbolic that the monument will open in the course of the International Week of Tolerance.
Lubavichi was one of the most famous centers of Judaism hosting religious schools whose students came to lead Jewish communities in Europe and the United States. Therefore, the Germans destroyed local Jews with particular cruelty.
The execution took place in a small ravine on the territory of slaughterhouse. Jews were shot in the head or beaten to death with sticks. Little children were buried alive.
Jewish settlement in Lubavichi existed for three centuries. Its entire population was wiped out in one day.
For many years, on the execution site there was only a symbolic rectangle with a five-pointed star but bearing no inscription. In 2002, Russian and German students erected there a memorial sign.
The memorial was inaugurated within the framework of the “To Return Dignity” project launched by the RJC President Yuri Kanner.
Creation of the memorial was handled by a working group headed by the Co-chairman of the Russian Holocaust Center, scientific supervisor of the Holocaust Museum at the RJC Memorial synagogue on Poklonnaya Gora Ilya Altman and the director of “Even Ezer” Foundation Boris Vasyukov.
Jewish national-cultural autonomy in the Smolensk district under Dmitri Levant who also heads the RJC regional branch also took part in the creation of the monument.
The memorial complex (sculptor Alexey Zamlely, architect Vladislav Kondrat’yev) includes an original monument featuring Jewish motifs.
Thousands of Evangelical Christians all over Russia contributed their personal means to offset the costs of the planning and construction of the memorial. They left an inscription “Forgive us” on a granite plaque.
The text in Russian, English and Hebrew provides the date and details of the execution. Names of 74 murdered Jews were ascertained with the help of the Yad Vashem Project on documenting the names of Jews perished during the Holocaust in the USSR. Their names are carved in separate plaques.
The inauguration of the memorial was attended by the heads of the Smolensk district, Russian Jewish, religious, youth and public organizations, and representatives of the diplomatic corps. Anastasia Polyakova, eyewitness and inhabitant of Lubavichi will recall how the execution took place.
Mourning prayer (Kaddish) was recited by the rabbi of the Moscow’s synagogue on Bolshaya Bronnaya St. Isaac Kogan.
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