Today’s Independent World, which I am assuming is a UK paper, has an an interesting article on Father Patrick Desbois, a 53-year-old French priest, who is documenting for the world the slaughter enacted by the Nazi mobile death squads, the feared Einsatzgruppen, which roamed and murdered Jews and Gypsies with impunity in the remote villages of the former Soviet Union between 1941 and 1944.
For the last 10 years the priest and his helpers have painstakingly gathered the testimony of the survivors of this period.
The article points out that:
“Today these witnesses have grown old and infirm and many are already dead. Living in countries where the average life expectancy for a man is little more than 60 years, those who experienced first-hand the Nazi genocide in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and Ossetia are steadily dying out. When they are gone, Father Desbois fears, so too will the memory of what they saw – and with it a truth which exists only in the conscience of Europe’s poorest people.”
This is a story that needs to be told. These were not the cold, impersonal gas chambers and ovens of Poland, these were mass slaughters of people followed by mass burials (in some cases of people still alive).
The article is hard to read. It’s hard to believe that men can treat other men so badly, but it is worth reading because it is a part of history that has not been widely told.
According to the article Father Desbois has stated that:
“The reason for taking up this work is simple: to restore the dignity of the uncounted and largely unmourned dead who were slaughtered and piled into pits like animals, and to allow the Kaddish – the Jewish prayer of mourning – to be recited over their final resting places. But there is another reason too; to prevent a repeat of the Holocaust.”
Thank you, Father Desbois, for revealing a part of history that needs to be revealed.