On June 23 the Jewish community of Volgograd held a funeral ceremony for Jewish civilians shot by the Nazis during the battle of Stalingrad in August 1942. Most of the victims were children, the youngest was only eight months old.
The remains were exhumed about a year ago near the village of Vodino, Oktyabrsky district, as a part of a genocide criminal case investigation by the local investigative committee.
The ceremony took place at the Jewish part of the Verkhnezarechenskoye municipal cemetery in southwestern Russian city of Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad), and was prepared and carried out by the Volgograd JCC and the Jewish community. Local authorities and the ‘Pamyat’ company provided free of charge assistance and support in coordinating the event, while community member Khaim Yudaev organized the transportation of the remains.
Local resident Gabriel Khakhiashvili said: “I could not help but come and support the minyan, seeing the lists of the dead… So many children. I thought that personal participation is the least I could do.”
Zalman Yoffe, Chief Rabbi of Volgograd and the Volgograd region, read the memorial prayer, and everyone who wished placed stones on the grave, as required by the Jewish tradition. The meeting was also attended by representatives of the Committee for Nationalities and Cossacks of the Volgograd Region, the municipal Committee for Culture, and the administration of the Oktyabrsky district.
“It is especially important for young people to attend such events.The main thing is to preserve the memory and not to make mistakes again,” said 87-year old Vladimir Kunin, an active member of the Jewish community.
A week earlier, the Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee for the Volgograd Region handed over the remains of the genocide victims, exhumed in the summer of 2020, to the Volgograd Jewish community in accordance with the Jewish tradition.
Forensic experts have identified the signs of violent death (gunshot wounds to the chest and head) and confirmed the identities of the remains based on age and gender indications in accordance with the Act of the State Extraordinary Commission for Investigation of Nazi War Crimes of 1943.
Community activists Alexander Plaksin, Alexander Frakhtman, Vladislav Finkov, Eremey Lalaev and Lev Libman along with Rabbi Yoffe sorted the remains of 45 people, two of whom were non-Jewish residents, and prepared them for the burial.
The participants of the funeral unanimously agreed that actualization of the Holocaust memory is not only a way of preserving the memory, but is also a way of combating neo-Nazism today.
Photos provided by the Jewish community of Volgograd.