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27 January 2023, 14:15

Diplomats commemorate Vitebsk Ghetto victims on Holocaust Memorial Day

An archive photo
An archive photo

VITEBSK, 27 January (BelTA) – The International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust is marked on 27 January. On this day representatives of the embassies of Israel, Armenia, Germany, Austria, Great Britain, the Slovak Republic, and Poland laid flowers at the memorial sign at the site of the mass extermination of the Jewish population in the Ilovka Ditch in Vitebsk, BelTA has learned.

About 10,000 prisoners of the Vitebsk Ghetto were killed during the Nazi occupation. The first executions took place in the anti-tank ditch near the village of Ilovka at the end of July 1941. Every day, 800 people were brought there for execution - mostly children, women, and the elderly. After the frontline began to move westwards, the Nazis decided to hide the evidence of their atrocities. Residents of the surrounding settlements were taken to the place of mass burial and ordered to take out the remains of the victims and burn them. For 20 years, not a single blade of grass grew on the black ashes. Decades later, a memorial sign was mounted at this place indicating the number of Nazi victims in three languages - Russian, Belarusian and Yiddish.

In 2010 a memorial sign was unveiled on the site of the former Vitebsk Ghetto. The project was funded by the Vitebsk Jewish community and supported by the Vitebsk Oblast Executive Committee. The memorial sign shows a figure of a mother with a six-pointed Star of David gaping in her shot heart.

There is a QR code containing information about the tragedy of the Vitebsk Ghetto, for example, the reminiscences of eyewitnesses of those terrible events. Local residents said that the Germans stripped the Jews naked, put them in a row of 10 people and shot them with a machine-gun. Some children were thrown alive into dug-out graves. No one dared to come close to the tank ditch with the corpses.

Representatives of the embassies of Israel, Armenia, Germany, Austria, Great Britain, the Slovak Republic, Poland laid flowers and, according to Jewish tradition, stones at this sign honoring the memory of the dead.

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