WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum expresses deep concern regarding recent manifestations of intolerance and antisemitism in Ukraine including violence directed against the Romani communities in Kyiv and L’viv. On April 21 members of the neo-Nazi Ukrainian organization C14 in the Holosiyiv District of Kyiv forced 15 families to flee the area and burned down their dwellings. On May 9, approximately 30 masked men burned down the Rudne settlement in the L’viv district. The Roma were targeted by the Nazis during World War II and at least 200,000 were killed by the Germans and their collaborators. There has also been an alarming rise in antisemitic activity including the desecration of Jewish memorial sites, torchlight marches and antisemitic speeches organized by neo-Nazi groups in L’viv and Odessa glorifying Nazi collaborators who participated in the mass murder of Ukrainian Jews.
While acknowledging the hate crime investigation of the April 21attack on the Romani community that has been opened by the Kyiv municipal police and the recent statement by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko strongly condemning “any manifestations of intolerance and antisemitism” and promising immediate reaction by Ukrainian law enforcement agencies, it is clear that more needs to be done to combat antisemitic and anti-Roma prejudice and to stop the various efforts to distort the nation’s Holocaust history by glorifying Nazi collaborators and white-washing historical truth.
This will require greater consistency of government action. The Memorandum of Cooperation signed on March 18 between the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Education and Science, Kyiv Municipality, and the National Historical and Memorial Reserve Babyn Yar is a positive step promising to advance the project to create the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, a museum and educational center, at one of the most horrendous mass murder sites of the Holocaust. At the same time, however, the continuing effort led by the leadership of the government’s Ukrainian Institute of National Memory to praise certain leaders of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and cleanse their murderous records raises doubts regarding the government’s intentions.
The Museum urges the Ukrainian government to consistently combat new manifestations of intolerance – including antisemitism and anti-Romani sentiment – and to honestly confront the country’s past, including the participation of some Ukrainians in the murder of Jews and Roma during the World War II. Ensuring consistency in the government’s approach and the commitment of national resources to initiatives to memorialize and educate about the tragedy of Babyn Yar and the Holocaust in Ukraine will be positive steps in this process.
A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. Its far-reaching educational impact and global impact are made possible by generous donors. For more information, visit ushmm.org.