Ukrainian Police and the Holocaust

“The last Jew in Vinnitsa” source : http://bit.ly/1JE9ciV

When you talk or read about the Holocaust nowadays, there is a despicable tendency, among many people, including historians, of putting the blame solely on the back of the Nazis. As if they had accomplished their evil business alone. But the truth is different, for they had willing collaborators and executioners.

An article written by historian Yuri Radchenko and published in the most recent issue of Yad Vashem Studies provides a sad but revealing example of that situation, detailing the collaboration of the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police with the Nazi hordes. After detailing the various aspects of this deadly collaboration, the author concludes:

“[…] the involvement of the Ukrainian police in the Holocaust was not limited to the purely “technical” roles of escorting and guarding the Jews, as had been claimed by several modern Ukrainian historians. The Ukrainian police proved its effectiveness in the task of exterminating Jews, both under German control and on their own. Obviously, the German military and security bodies bear the primary responsibility for killing the Jews. However, without the cooperation of the Ukrainian policemen, who were familiar with the lay of the land, knew the local language and dialect, and had frequently lived in close proximity to Jews in the prewar years, the Nazis would have been unable to carry out their genocidal project on such a vast scale.”

Very revealing, notably in light of the revisionist currents who seek to downplay or deny the role of various local populations in the execution of the Holocaust.

Anti-Semitism on the rise by nearly 40%

IMG_3590
Rome (Gemelli station), summer 2014.

Last Saturday night, my family and I went to the Synagogue. We are not Jewish. We are proud Catholics. And we believe in the dialogue and friendship between Catholic and Jewish people. And we are always eager to express our solidarity with the Jewish people.

One particular discussion with a middled-aged Jewish man struck a chord in me. In a resigned tone, this gentleman expressed his discouragement at the alarming rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.

This reminded me of the recent study completed by Tel Aviv University researchers, which revealed that the year 2014 had been characterized by the fact that ant-Semitic incidents rose by nearly 40%.

This is more than preoccupying, since:

“The overall feeling among many Jewish people is one of living in an intensifying anti-Jewish environment that has become not only insulting and threatening, but outright dangerous, and that they are facing an explosion of hatred towards them as individuals, their communities, and Israel, as a Jewish state,” the authors wrote.

Last summer, while waiting for a train at a Rome station, I noticed a large swastika painted on the locomotive. In the last months, I have also heard an alarming number of anti-Semitic comments and observations by various people.

Anti-Semitism is a cancer that is eating up the spirit of tolerance of Europe – and many other parts of the world. We need to fight it with all our energies and determination. For, as Pope Francis recently said “a Christian cannot be anti-Semitic!” And I totally agree with him.

I just wish I could join up with the participants of the upcoming 5th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism in Jerusalem. I’ll make sure to attend in 2017. Now, more than ever, we need such venues.