Friday, August 15, 2014

Holocaust by Bullets

Mass grave of 11,000 Jews in Ukraine
Holocaust by Bullets by Father Patrick Desbois is the odyssey of a French Roman Catholic priest who felt called by God to search for the lost graves of Holocaust victims in Eastern Europe. While the Nazi atrocities in Western Europe are well-documented, until the collapse of the former Soviet Union, there was little recorded about the murder of 1.5 million Jews in Ukraine and other parts of Eastern Europe. Fr. Desbois' book is not for the faint of heart. Father and his companions found and questioned peasants who witnessed the mass murders of their friends and neighbors. Those who saw the horrors were, of course, traumatized for life, especially when they had been forced to assist in the executions.

Stripping the victims naked even in the harshest weather was always a part of the dehumanization process. Young women and girls were routinely brutalized; the numbers of Jewish women who were violated during the Holocaust has never been adequately assessed. The victims were lined up and shot so that they fell into a pit, only to have another layer of victims thrown upon them. Witnesses repeatedly claim that the earth "moved" and "groaned" for days following the massacres, meaning large numbers had been buried alive. Such abominations occurred over and over again throughout the entire region.

Father Desbois uncovered many mass graves in his travels, giving the victims the most basic courtesy of prayers and a marker. He says he always found the local orthodox clergy to be helpful in his searches for mass graves and in his desire to honor the memory of the slain. His simple account brings home to me more than ever the extent of the horrors of the Holocaust. Reading the testimonies in which faces and names are given to the victims places the murders at a personal level which the mind can barely process. Only Sacred Scripture can adequately express the inexpressible.
Weeping, she hath wept in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: there is none to comfort her among all them that were dear to her: all her friends have despised her, and are become her enemies.

 Ghimel. Juda hath removed her dwelling place, because of her affliction, and the greatness of her bondage; she hath dwelt among the nations, and she hath found no rest; all her persecutors have taken her in the midst of straits.

 Daleth. The ways of Sion mourn, because there are none that come to the solemn feast: all her gates are broken down; her priests sigh; her virgins are in affliction; and she is oppressed with bitterness.
O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow. ~Lamentations 1: 2-4, 12

1 comment:

julygirl said...

I thought the 21st century would be a kinder gentler century than the tumult, tragedy and horrors of the 20th, but....the devil is alive and well on the planet earth.