WJC Calls on Belarussian Municipality to Halt Work Near Mass Jewish Grave
The World Jewish Congress has called on the municipality in the Belarussian city of Brest to cease construction at an uncovered mass grave of more than 1,000 Jews who were shot by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
“The construction project underway in Brest is an affront to the memories of the Jewish residents of the city who were shot and murdered in cold blood at that very site,” said WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer. “The municipality had the very clear responsibility to carefully examine the land in question prior to issuing a building permit, particularly when it is known by historians and eyewitnesses that the Jewish population was subjected to mass executions there.”
“We urge the municipality of Brest to do its due diligence and order all construction ceased until it is able to carry out a full forensic investigation at the site and ensure that the remains of human bodies are removed and given a proper burial,” he continued. “If it emerges that this was indeed the location where hundreds of Jewish women, children and the elderly were killed, then we trust that the municipality’s decision on how to proceed will take into consideration respect for the Jewish community and the tragic history that befell it.”
Currently, at least 730 bodies have been unearthed by Belarusian soldiers in a pit at a building site in Brest, a city along the Polish border. Brest was the location of the Union of Brest and Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.
“We will not allow the building of anything on bones of people,” said Gov. Alexander Rogachuk.
At least 28,000 Jews lived in the Brest ghetto between 1941 and 1942.
Some 17,000 people were known to have been shot in October 1942 near the Bronnaya Gora rail station, as thousands more were presumed to have been massacred.
Some 66 percent of Belarusian Jews perished in the Holocaust, according to American historian Lucy Dawidowicz in The War Against Jews.