Germany provides refuge for Holocaust survivors from Ukraine

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Germany provides refuge for Holocaust survivors from Ukraine

Germany is providing a safe haven for some unlikely refugees from Ukraine: Holocaust survivors who in their childhood fled to Russia to escape the Nazi army.

Jewish organizations supported by the German government have been working since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion to rescue the elderly members of one of the largest communities of Holocaust survivors in the world, who made up about 10,000 of the roughly 200,000 Jewish people living in Ukraine before the war, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Germany is a prime destination because its government offered help and access to a support network, including care homes with Russian-speaking staff.

About 1.5 million of Soviet Ukraine’s 2.5 million Jews were killed in a string of massacres known as “Holocaust by bullets” or taken to concentration camps, after Germany invaded in 1941.

Holocaust survivor Raisa Valiushkevych, 98, who has recently escaped Russian bombing of her hometown Kyiv, attends a Reuters interview in Frankfurt, Germany.
Holocaust survivor Raisa Valiushkevych, 98, who has recently escaped Russian bombing of her hometown Kyiv, in Frankfurt, Germany.
REUTERS/Timm Reichert

Russian shelling damaged at least two memorials to those slaughtered by the Nazis, one in Kyiv, the other in the city of Kharkiv, since the invasion, and is known to have killed at least one Holocaust survivor, Boris Romanchenko, despite President Vladimir Putin’s claims that the invasion was meant to “de-nazify” Ukraine.

Some of the aging survivors who were evacuated refused to go to Germany. Nearly three dozen had to be airlifted to Israel because they refused to go to the country that perpetrated the Holocaust, the Journal reported.

People look at a crater next to a damaged apartment building after the recent Russian airstrike, in Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine.
People look at a crater next to a damaged apartment building after the recent Russian airstrike, in Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine.
EPA/ROMAN PILIPEY

So far about 80 survivors have been rescued by the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, or JDC, a longstanding charity and the Jewish Claims Conference, which negotiates restitution for victims of Nazism and their heirs.

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