Jews made for more than half of the pre-war population in Hrodna; when the Second World War broke out, Nazis created two ghettos in the city in 1941. About 42,000 Jews went through these ‘areas of forced residence’, 20,000 of which were killed.
On Sunday, a march in memory of the victims was held in Hrodna. One should not forget about the drastic events of that time to prevent history from repeating itself, activists stressed.
“There were observation towers, barbed wire, dogs, gunners. They did their best to intimidate people, to dehumanize them, to make them lose hope for release or count on any resistance,” Barys Kvyatkouski, Chairman of the Jewish community of Hrodna, said.
“I am happy that the march has been staged for the fifth year in a row and different groups of Hrodna and foreign guests have joined it,” Yauhen Kalodzin, a representative of the Jewish-Christian Dialogue Association, said.
The recollection of former tragic days united not only Hrodna residents, but also guests from Israel, Poland, Germany and other countries. By the way, the memorial event was organized by the local cultural and educational charity foundation ‘Kisleu’, not the Belarusian authorities. The freak theatre Hexogen made a significant contribution as well: its actors got into the characters of prisoners and gave a tour around the Hrodna ghetto to the participants.
“Hrodna residents are inextricably bound up with these streets and with the ghetto. This is our city, it is our history and we do care,” actor Vasil Kalach said.
The event included a memorial concert in Hrodna Choral Synagogue and the opening of two exhibitions.
“The Jewish people did much for the Belarusian culture. That is why we remember all those who died during the war, including those killed in the mopping-up of the Hrodna ghetto, so that such a tragedy will never happen again and neither Jewish, Belarusian nor any other nation will be destroyed. We advocate for cultural diversity around the world,” Father Andrey Krot, a Greek Catholic priest, told Belsat TV.