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IndianaGreen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-25-09 11:19 PM
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A holy mission to reveal the truth about Nazi death squads
A holy mission to reveal the truth about Nazi death squads

Father Patrick Desbois has spent the past decade piecing together the horrific story of the Nazis' secret death squads. Jonathan Brown meets a man who's rewriting history

By Jonathan Brown

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Father Patrick Desbois is a man desperately racing with death. By his own calculations he has six, perhaps seven years at the outside in which to complete his work: a task, which until the reaper renders it impossible some time in the not-too-distant future, is at once unimaginably chilling in nature and nightmarishly ambitious in scale. For the 53-year-old French priest, with an easy laugh and shining eyes, has made it his holy mission to recall for the world the slaughter enacted by the Nazi mobile death squads, the feared Einsatzgruppen, which roamed and murdered Jews and Gypsies with impunity in the remote villages of the former Soviet Union between 1941 and 1944.

It was, until the intervention of Father Dubois, a largely overlooked episode in one of the grimmest chapters of the Second World War. But for the last 10 years the priest and his helpers have painstakingly gathered the testimony of the survivors of this period, travelling to some of Europe's most abject places where, without judging, they have listened as a procession of elderly men and women recalled often for the first time how, a lifetime ago, they became teenage helpmates to the Nazi killing machine.

Today these witnesses have grown old and infirm and many are already dead. Living in countries where the average life expectancy for a man is little more than 60 years, those who experienced first-hand the Nazi genocide in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and Ossetia are steadily dying out. When they are gone, Father Desbois fears, so too will the memory of what they saw and with it a truth which exists only in the conscience of Europe's poorest people.

During the course of the last decade, Father Desbois and his team from Yahad in Unum, a French organisation dedicated to Christian-Jewish understanding, have recorded conversations with more than 1,000 witnesses to the mass murders on Hitler's Eastern Front. So far they have discovered some 850 unmarked graves the majority of them previously unknown including a site at Bodgdanivka which contained the remains of some 42,000 Jews.
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rpannier Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-12-10 09:58 PM
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1. Great man Important work
I wish him well and hope he can get as complete a picture possible
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Lionel Mandrake Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-05-11 06:33 PM
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2. "a largely overlooked episode"?
It was largely overlooked before 1961, when Raul Hilberg published his magnum opus, The Destruction of the European Jews, about 100 pages of which describe the mobile killing operations. The Einsatzgruppen have been studied intensively since 1961. See, for example:

Krausnick, Helmut, and Wilhelm, Hans-Heinrich: Die Truppe des Weltanschauungskrieges. Die Einsatzgruppen der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD 1938-1942. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart, 1981

Stang, Knut: Kollaboration und Massenmord. Die litauische Hilfspolizei, das Rollkommando Hamann und die Ermordung der litauischen Juden. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main, 1996
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