RUSSIALINK: “Russia to memorialize 20 Holocaust execution sites” – Interfax

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MOSCOW. Aug 6 (Interfax) – Twenty sites in Russia where Jews were executed and buried during the war will be memorialized as part of the next stage of the Return Dignity program this year.

Monuments to Holocaust victims will be built in cities and villages in the Bryansk, Volgograd, Oryol, Ryazan, Smolensk, and Tula regions, the Stavropol Territory and the Republic of Kalmykia. It is planned to erect the granite obelisks by late October, spokesman of the Russian Jewish Congress Mikhail Savin told Interfax on Monday.

For instance, in the town of Blagodarny in the Stavropol Territory, where 187 people, including 169 Jews, were executed during the Nazi occupation, a monument to Holocaust victims will be unveiled on August 7. This will be the first time Israeli Ambassador to Russia Gary Koren attends a ceremony as part of the Return Dignity program.

Another stage of Return Dignity began in June with the unveiling of tombstones engraved with the names of executed prisoners of the Smolensk Ghetto and a monument at the site of the execution of the Baum family in the city of Plavsk in the Tula region. While 10 people, five adults and five children, were memorialized in Plavsk, a common grave in the town of Vyazovenki in the Smolensk region contains the remains of 3,000 former ghetto prisoners, 1,413 of whose names established by people involved in Return Dignity. The president of the Russian Jewish Congress and the founder of the program, Yury Kanner, led both ceremonies.

The program to perpetuate the memory of Holocaust victims, which is being jointly implemented by the Russian Jewish Congress and the Holocaust Center with the backing of the Evangelical Christian foundation Eben Ezer and others, is an example of a successful multi-year partnership involving NGOs and religious organizations, regional authorities, patrons, and local historians. Since the program was launched in 2009, over 70 monuments have been set up at sites of mass executions and burials. There are over 500 such sites in Russia, most of them not marked in any way. The objective of the Return Dignity program is to build monuments at each of them.