Kharkov, Ukrainian – Jews in Ukraine’s second-largest city are protesting a plan to build a residential area near the site of a World War II-era Jewish ghetto.
Leaders of the Jewish community appealed to city authorities to halt the construction of an apartment complex that would require some Holocaust memorial markers to be removed from the area.
In a letter to the mayor, Jewish leaders, described the plan as unacceptable because it would affect the site “where probably the most tragic events in the history of our city took place.”
During the World War II occupation of Ukraine, the area proposed for new construction contained barracks from which thousands of Jews were marched to Drobitsky Yar on the outskirts of the city. There, Nazis and local collaborators killed more than 15,000 Jews in December 1941 and January 1942, and at one time was used to bury those killed in the ghetto.
The area under construction has a memorial zone dedicated in 1992 that contains several Holocaust markers, including the Wall of Sorrow and a sign commemorating Righteous Among the Nations. Jewish leaders said they were outraged to learn that officials agreed to move those signs to a nearby location to make room for the apartment buildings.
The letters to Mayor Mikhail Dobkin and other city officials have not affected the plans, community sources say.
Ironically, Dobkin is Jewish, as are the owners of Privat Bank — which, is funding the construction or, according to Volovik and some other Jewish activists, is to own the planned apartment complex.
Bank co-owners Igor Kolomoysky and Gennady Bogolyubov, and the chairman of its board, Alexander Dubilet, all hold honorary titles in the Ukrainian Jewish community, and alls to the bank and City Hall went unanswered.