Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Holocaust by Bullets: A Priest's Journey to Uncover the Truth Behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews by Father Patrick Desbois 2008

In April of 2010 Ben Gurion University in Israel awarded the Ladislav Last Ecumenical Prize for Tolerance and Religious and Social Understanding to Father Desbois who is president of the Yahad–In Unum Association and has devoted his life to confronting antisemitism and furthering Catholic-Jewish understanding.

This is an important and highly readable memoir/historical inquiry by Father Patrick Desbois, a French Catholic priest who has been, since he was young, trying to understand the profound moral implications of the Holocaust. He writes about how he embarked on a path of study that included learning Hebrew and taking courses at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. He has made it his mission to locate all unidentified mass grave sites of Jewish victims in Ukraine. This book is a compelling report on the results of his efforts so far.

His point is that in western Europe, the Nazis had the killing machines of the extermination camps. In eastern Europe, however, Jews were mostly shot in their towns and buried in pits often dug by the victims themselves or by local Ukrainians. These mass graves have become overgrown and were unmarked. Because the Soviet Union has opened up somewhat, Father Desbois has sought documents to corroborate information he received from conducting interviews with Ukranian witnesses.

Father Desbois’ very important work is ongoing and has been recognized internationally. This book is published with the support of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and has a forward by its Director, Paul A. Shapiro.

Note: There are hardly any names of victims mentioned. The focus of this book is Father Besbois’ work at the sites: identifying them, interviewing elderly eye-witnesses to document what took place, and marking the sites as Jewish burial grounds.

This book includes photos, maps, footnotes and an index.

For extensive coverage of Father Desbois and his mission published in the New York Times and written to coincide with a traveling exhibit of Father Desbois' project that opened in Paris, click here.The article includes photos and videos.

Camp Rawa-Ruska, Ukraine
Ougnif, Ukraine
Lublin, Poland
Borove, Lviv region
Mosty-Wielkie,  Ukraine
Bilatserva, Ukraine
Khvativ, Lviv region
Ivano-Frankivsk region, Galacia
Konstiantynivka, Zaporjie region
Melitipol, Ukraine
Kalininskoye, Crimea
Ternivka, Ukraine
Zabolottia, Ukraine
Romanivka, Nikolaiev region
Sataniv, Ukraine
Kilometer Eleven, extermination site near Simferopol, Ukraine
Rata, Ukraine
Belz, Ukraine
Busk, Lviv region
Lisinitchi, Lviv region
Kovel, Loutsk region
Kertch, Crimea
Voskresenskoye, Nikolayev region
Lubianka, Nikolayev region
Novozlatopol, Zaporjie region
Torchyn, Volbyn region
Jovtneve, Nikolayev region
Iltsi, Ivano-Frankivsk region
Belzec, Poland
Chernovo, Crimea
Novy Yaritchev
Bobovry Kut, region of Kherson
Strusiv in the region of Ternopil
Feodosia, region of Crimea

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