Memorial Sign in Stebliv
“May their memory be blessed!”
These heartfelt words are written on a memorial sign placed on the spot where 143 Jews were shot by Fascists in August and September 194 – the Dovzhik urochische in Stebliv townlet of the Korsun-Shevchenkivskyi Raion (district) of the Cherkasy Oblast (province) in central Ukraine.
This good deed was done thanks to the efforts of many people who cared. The President of the Regional Association of Jewish Communities of Ukrainian Towns Petr Rashkovsky searched tirelessly for sponsors. And aid was given by the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress General Council Chairman Josef Zisels. This international organization began a new project for the erection of memorial signs in places where Jews were killed en masse in Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, and Russia, and the Stebliv monument became the project's first step.
The memorial stone itself was mage quickly and to high standards by the Korsun-Shevhcenkivsky private enterprise “Albin,” headed by Alexei Albin. Its placement was aided by the the head of the Korsun-Shevhcenkivsky Regional State Administration Ivan Pustovit, Deputy of the Regional Council Chairman Anatoliy Vyduta, district architect Aleksandr Kononchuk, Chairman of the Stebliv Town Council Anatoliy Ustyanovsky, Director of the Lysianka Regional Forestry Administration, and Stebliv forest ranger Yuri Pobochenko.
The opening of the memorial on June 14, 2007, became an all-Ukrainian event. Representatives of different Jewish communities from Smela, Cherkasy, Dniepropetrovsk, and Kyiv all visited the event. They all made their way by that last road which had been walked 66 years ago by 143 Stebliv Jews, whose names can be read on an informational stand placed near the memorial.
The mourning gathering was begun by Petr Rashkovsky, who gave the right to open the memorial to Ivan Pustovit, Josef Zisels, the Second Secretary of the Embassy of Israel in Ukraine Leon Kohen, and the Executive Director of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities and Organizations of the Dniepropetrovsk Region Igor Romanov. Commemorative candles were lit, and in their flickering light the Head Rabbi of Cherkasy and the Cherkasy Oblast Dov Axelrod and the Chairman of the Cherkasy United Municipal Community David Letichevsky read a memorial prayer.
Head of the Korsun-Shevhcenkivsky Regional State Administration Ivan Pustovit began his speec thusly: “Today, familiar words come to mind, 'Nobody is forgotten, nothing is forgotten.' So may the memory of these innocent people who died at the hands of Hitler supporters live forever in our memory, and may future generations remember them as well.”
Josef Zisels spoke about the background which made the event possible. “In the 1990s, we held a big study, the result of which was a database on 1400 such places. Only a third of them had any kind of memorial signs, and most of those did not even mentioned that the people who dies were Jews. And for 10 years now I have wanted to begin placing memorial signs in these place. Our Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, created in 2002 and uniting Jewish communities of 25 European and Asian countries, has taken up this task for the first time, and I am very happy that this is the first place we worked on, because the Regional Association is a long-standing partner of ours.Petr Rashkovsky's energy, his interest towards this project, his contacts with the local authorities helped us a lot in the painstaking work of placing a memorial sign. Now, together with Executive Director Lev Shpilsky we are planning to place similar memorial signs in Moldova, Belarus, and other countries. There are unfortunately many such spots left, there will be enough work for our children and grandchildren. It does not matter how many people were buried in these frightening graves – what matters is these graves exist and need to be marked.”
Rabbi Aleksandr Faingold, aide to the Head Rabbi of Ukraine Moshe-Reuven Asman on working with small communities, looked at this sad event from the point of view of the future of the Jewish people: we must return more and more of our brothers to Jewry in memory of the six million that perished in the Catastrophe, and it will all become a living memorial for them.”
Other moving speeches on memory and pain were given by the Head of the Department on Nationalities and Religions of the Cherkasy Oblast State Administration Evgeniy Savis'ko, Deputy Head of the Korsun'-Shevchenkivskiy Regional Council Anatoliy Vyduta, Head of the Department of Culture and Tourism of the Regional State Administration Mikhail Volkov, Chairman of the Korsun'-Schevchenkivskiy community, disabled veteran Tsal' Groisman, and Igor Romanov, Leon Kohen, Dov Axelrod, Directory of the Cherkasy “Chesed Dorot” Dmitriy Spivakovsky, and leader of the Ezrah International Charity Foundation Yuri Kryzhanovsky.
The event was filmed by the workgroups of the “Mazel Tov” and “613” programs, and their work was shown on the UT-1 channel on June 21.
...Long ago, the wise Jewish king Solomon said that there is a time to scatter the stones and a time to gather the stones. And now we are not only gathering the 'stones' scattered by times of totalitarianism, but placing them to mark important places of our sad history. This is wise and humane.