Sunday, January 25, 2009

French Catholic Priest Patrick Desbois Saves History Before It's Too Late

The expression “do gooder” doesn’t even begin to describe the amazing task that French Catholic priest Patrick Desbois has undertaken since 2002. The task? Searching out the last remaining witnesses to the Nazi death squad murders of Jews in the former Soviet Union.

The story of this Catholic priest is told in the January 23rd Wall Street Journal article by Jordana Horn titled How Father Desbois Became a Holocaust Memory Keeper. Horn writes:
How much he has accomplished since 2002 can be seen in "The Shooting of Jews in Ukraine: Holocaust By Bullets," which runs until March 15 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York. The exhibit was created by the Memorial de la Shoah Paris in cooperation with Father Desbois's organization, Yahad in Unum (the words for "together" in Hebrew and Latin). It follows the publication last August of his book "Holocaust By Bullets" (Palgrave MacMillan).
What I found most amazing, besides Father Desbois’ self-imposed mission, is that children and adults were made to participate in the death squad shootings of the Jews. I’ve read a vast amount of first-hand accounts of the Nazi murderers as well as fictional accounts (Saul Bellow’s MR. SAMMLER’S PLANET has a scene from these death-squad shootings that I’ll never forget). Yet I had never heard that there were forced local participants and witnesses. And it is those then-children participants/witnesses who Father Desbois is searching out in order to find the unmarked mass graves of the Nazi atrocities.
As the unmarked mass graves are slowly located, one by one, and sanctified with the recitation of the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer of mourning for the dead, the cries can at last be silenced. Are we our brothers' keepers? To Father Desbois, the answer is a resounding "Yes."

Even so, I ask him: How can you bear to listen to a woman talk about when she was 14 years old and was forced to walk on corpses, between shootings, in order to pack them down in a mass grave? "I keep my faith in God," Father Desbois responds, "not in humanity."
Father Desbois wants people to contact him through his organization’s website to tell him about more mass graves and eyewitnesses.
"These were young children who were forced, in the course of one day, to fill the grave and to witness," Father Desbois said. "They heard the last words of the dead. They want to speak."

1 comment:

CJ said...

Way to go, Father Desbois.
Let's see "Bishop" Williamson and the SSPX stuff that in their antisemitic censers and smoke it!