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Commemoration of Jewish Victims

Photo of Demyankovtsy mine taken on May 2, 1947.
In the front are the three Shpilkerman brothers with their families (from left to right): Moitl, Moishe with his wife Dobrish and his infant son Boris, and Zolmen with his wife Faina. Photo of Demyankovtsy mine taken on May 2, 1947.
In the front are the three Shpilkerman brothers with their families (from left to right): Moitl, Moishe with his wife Dobrish and his infant son Boris, and Zolmen with his wife Faina.
Courtesy of the Katz family (Jerusalem) First monument, erected at the Demyankovtsy mine by Dunayevty Jews in the late 1940s First monument, erected at the Demyankovtsy mine by Dunayevty Jews in the late 1940s Yad Vashem Photo Collection 3883/2230 Memorial service at the Demyankovtsy mine, photo taken on May 2, 1952, on the left - Avraham Rudman Memorial service at the Demyankovtsy mine, photo taken on May 2, 1952, on the left - Avraham Rudman Yad Vashem Photo Collection 3883/2229 Original memorial plaque (in Russian), topped with a Star of David Original memorial plaque (in Russian), topped with a Star of David Yad Vashem Photo Collection 231BO4 Memorial service at the mine during the 1960s Memorial service at the mine during the 1960s Yad Vashem Photo Collection 2724/2 Second monument erected by Dunayevty's Jews at the Demnyankovtsy mine Second monument erected by Dunayevty's Jews at the Demnyankovtsy mine Yad Vashem Photo Collection 2724/4 Contemporary view of the monument
Photo by Arkadi Zeltser, 2012 Contemporary view of the monument
Photo by Arkadi Zeltser, 2012
The International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem Monument erected by Jews from Dunayevtsy and nearby towns in the Salonichnik forest, 1960s Monument erected by Jews from Dunayevtsy and nearby towns in the Salonichnik forest, 1960s Yad Vashem Photo Collection 2724/5 Commemoration service at the monument in the Salonichnik forest Commemoration service at the monument in the Salonichnik forest Yad Vashem Photo Collection 2724/1 Contemporary view of the monument
Photo by Arkadi Zeltser, 2012 Contemporary view of the monument
Photo by Arkadi Zeltser, 2012
The International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem Current view of the monument to the 19 Jews who were hanged in 1942.
Photo by Eugene Shnaider, 2013 Current view of the monument to the 19 Jews who were hanged in 1942.
Photo by Eugene Shnaider, 2013
Genesis Philanthropy Group project

Shortly after the liberation of Dunayevtsy by the Red Army in the spring of 1944, in the course of the work of the Soviet Extraordinary State Commission for the Investigation of the German atrocities on the Occupied Territories of the USSR, Ukrainian policemen who had participated in the murder operation at the Demyankovtsy phosphorous mine were apprehended. They were taken to the site to open the entrance to the mine. When commission members and local residents entered the mine, they saw human skeletons of various sizes and in different positions scattered around the mine. On May 2, 1946 at this site Jews who had returned to Dunayevtsy held a commemoration service, during which Lazar Goldveht said the Kaddish memorial prayer. Since then a memorial service has been held at the site annually on that day. At Goldveht's initiative the Jews of Dunayevtsy compiled a list of the Jews who were murdered at the site, but an appeal to the authorities to fund the erection of the monument was turned down on the grounds that not only Jews had been murdered there during the war. Avraham Rudman collected money from the town's Jews and in the late 1940s a white monument in the shape of a grave, topped with a Star of David, was erected at the entrance to the mine. Its Hebrew inscription said:
"The generations who were taken to this large cave and who now lie under this monument were collected and thrown in alive by the German Fascists in the year … 1942 3,000 of our people - men, women, and children, old and young, infants and nurslings - they were closed in and all the exits were blocked so that they suffocated or died of hunger. The heart-breaking cries and moaning of their voices from under the ground could be heard from far away for weeks. When you stand in this place, remember the souls of your forebears who were murdered in various brutal ways as martyrs [to sanctify God's name]. May their holy souls and merit be bound up in the bond of life. Amen. Dunayevtsy."
Apparently at the time the monument was erected a memorial plaque, with a text in Russian, topped with a Star of David was placed high up on the exterior wall of the mine. This inscription said:
"In this grave in 1942 were [buried alive] 3,000 of our fellow[Jews] - men, women, and infants, by the German-Nazi barbarians. Their heart-breaking cries could [then] be heard from far away. Eternal memory to the holy martyrs. Amen."
After the authorities granted permission for a new monument but requested that the Star of David be replaced by a red star, a black marble monument topped with a red Star was erected. The new monument's Hebrew text, engraved in white letters, was the same as before. The Russian inscription was slightly altered in order to conceal the reference to the Jewish victims. It reads as follows:
"In this grave in 1942 3,000 Soviet civilians were buried alive, killed by the German-Nazi barbarians. The heart-breaking cries of our brothers, sisters, and children were heard from far away for weeks. Eternal memory to those who perished."
Probably during the same period of time a monument was erected near the local Jewish cemetery where 19 Jews hanged in 1942 were buried by the Jewish community. An engraved plaque on the monument, written in Russian, reads:
"Here are buried 19 [Jewish] civilians who were hanged by the Hitlerite occupiers on March 11, 1942 in the town of Dunayevtsy." Several names of the victims are ingraved below the inscription.
Apparently during the 1950s or early 1960s a monument funded by Jews from Dunayevtsy and the nearby towns was erected at the murder site in the Salonichnik forest. A memorial ceremony is held at this site annually on October 19. The Russian text on the monument's plaque says:
"Here lie the remains of those closest to our hearts – fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and grandchildren who were killed by the German monsters. Your bright images will always remain in our hearts and our memory. May this mass grave remind people of the inhumanity of the Hitlerite occupiers [October 19], 1942."
In the early 1990s the exterior of the entrance to the Demyankovtsy mine apparently had a yellow Star of David on it.
Video
Josef Kuperman was born in Dunayevtsy in 1919 and was living there during the war years.
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Josef Kuperman was born in Dunayevtsy in 1919 and was living there during the war years.
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