Mass Shooting of Jews in Ukraine: Catholic Priest is Searching for
Gravesites, Will Speak in Miami as Part of U.S. Tour
Miami, FL (February 24, 2009) – On March 5, 2009 at 8 pm, Father Patrick Desbois, author of The Holocaust by Bullets: A Priest’s Journey to Uncover the Truth Behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews (2008 National Jewish Book Award winner), will present a free lecture at The Shul of Bal Harbour on the topic of the mass shooting of Jews in Ukraine during World War II.
The shootings of the Jews in Ukraine were the first mass killings of the Holocaust. Between 1941 and 1944, almost 1.5 million Ukrainian Jews were murdered when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Father Desbois and his team have spent more than five years uncovering the history of the events that occurred and locating the sites of mass graves of Jews killed by the Einsatzgruppen, the Nazi mobile killing units.
In the first four years of his research, Father Desbois located 600 sites of mass graves and estimated that 1,800 were left to be located in Ukraine; prior to his investigations, 200 sites were known. Father Desbois and his team travel to Ukraine at least every other month, to small villages where he interviews residents who witnessed the killings. He is motivated by a compulsion to locate the sites before all the witnesses have died, to “bring proof of these assassinations to the world,” and to ensure that history does not die with the witnesses. Recently, Father Desbois has begun traveling to Belarus to locate mass graves and uncover history there as well.
The lecture is co-sponsored by Targum Shlishi. Targum Shlishi previously spearheaded a fundraising campaign for Father Desbois' work. Information about Father Desbois and a short film that Targum Shlishi produced are available on the foundation's website: http://www.targumshlishi.org/initiatives4.html.
"Father Desbois' work is important and it is urgent," says Aryeh Rubin, director of Targum Shlishi. "There is very little time left to interview witnesses and uncover this history. I believe that if a Holocaust victim could rise up from one of the mass graves and speak, he would ask three questions. One: Why didn't the Jews of the world move heaven and earth to stop the massacre? Two: Why was so little done to bring the Nazis to justice after the Holocaust? Three: Why didn't we as Jews have the self-respect as a people to find the mass graves, to discover where and how the Jews were killed? Father Desbois is giving us our last opportunity to do something, our last chance to uncover this history. We must help him accomplish this."
The lecture is also sponsored by The Shul, The Judaic Studies Program at Florida International University, Yahad-In Unum, The Holocaust Memorial, and Books & Books.
WHEN: Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 8 p.m.
WHERE: The Shul, 9540 Collins Ave., Surfside, FL 33154. The event is free and open to the public.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact The Shul, 305-868-1411, ext. 7319
ABOUT FATHER DESBOIS
Father Patrick Desbois is the president of Yahad-In Unum (yahad means together in Hebrew; in unum means together in Latin), which was co-founded in 2004 by the Archbishop of Paris and the head of the World Jewish Congress to promote Jewish-Catholic dialogue, joint social relief programs, and common moral values throughout Europe. The work of identifying the sites of Jewish mass executions is the major focus of Yahad-In Unum. He has been an advisor to the Vatican’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews since 2003, he is a member of the board of the French Judeo-Christian Friendship Society, and he was personal aide to the late Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger. For more information about Father Desbois’ work, see the Yahad-In Unum website, http://www.yahadinunum.org.
OTHER LECTURE LOCATIONS FOR FATHER DESBOIS, FEB 23 – MARCH 5:
Chicago Feb 23 Anti-Defamation League/Park Hyatt/6 PM (800 N. Michigan Avenue)
Detroit Feb 24 JCC/7:30 PM (6600 West Maple Road)
Minneapolis Feb 26 Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies/12 PM(101 Nolte, 315 Pillsbury Drive Road SE)
Temple Israel/7 PM (2324 Emerson Avenue)
New Jersey Mar 1 Seton Hall/2 PM (400 South Orange Avenue)
New York Mar 2 Stern College, Yeshiva University/7:30 PM (245 Lexington Avenue)
Mar 3 New York Public Library/7 PM (42nd Street/5th Avenue)
Connecticut Mar 4 Sacred Heart University/2 PM (3730 Madison Avenue)
Miami Mar 5 Shul of Bal Harbor/8 PM (9540 Collins Avenue)