International effort to locate graves of Jewish soldiers who fought Nazis
Commonwealth War Graves Commission joins special project launched by Jewish Caucasian oligarch German Zakharyayev and Conference of European Rabbis to find place of burial of 250,000 Jewish troops who were killed in World War Il while fighting for Allies' armies.
According to different estimates, some 250,000 Jewish soldiers who served in the Allies' armies, the Red Army, the partisans' organizations and the resistance organizations were killed during World War II. The projects' initiators say they are unaware of any documentation of the identity and place of burial of these fallen soldiers. Some of them were likely buried in mass graves.
The Lo Tishkach ("Do Not Forget") European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative, which was established in 2006 as a joint project of the CER and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, will serve as the operational arm of the project.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, an intergovernmental organization of six independent member states founded almost 100 years ago, whose principal function is to mark, record and maintain the graves and places of commemoration of Commonwealth of Nations military service members who died in the two World Wars, has announced that it will also take part in the project.
The grave location project is part of German Zakharyayev's enterprise. Ahead of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II ("Victory Day") on May 9, the Jewish Caucasian oligarch has initiated a series of public events in the past few months in a bid to encourage Israel and Jewish community in the Diaspora to mark the "liberation and rescue day" according to its Hebrew date, the 26th of Iyar.
On that day next month, he plans to bring Torah scrolls into the Knesset, the Western Wall and the home of Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, one of the leaders of the ultra-Orthodox Lithuanian public.
According to the coordinator of the "liberation and rescue day" events, Moshe Friedman, on the 26th of Iyar European rabbis, states' representatives, youth and students will visit the cemeteries, mass graves and commemoration and memorial sites for the Jewish fighters and hold official memorial ceremonies there.
"This program serves as historical justice for those Jews who risked their lives during the war, now that 70 years have passed since they were killed," says CER President Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt. "We are cooperating with the countries of the Allies and Red Army in their memory."
Goldschmidt says he expects those countries to announce, through their representatives at the next rabbis' conference, that they will open their archives and provide the required assistance for the project's success.