March 28 — New Glories in the “Denazification” Campaign

There have been developments in the mystical “Denazification” that Vladimir Putin gave as one of the primary goals of Russia’s so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine. On March 27th, Russian artillery damaged the Holocaust memorial in Drobytsky Yar in Kharkiv.

A piece of the destroyed monument, which is in the shape of a stylized menorah

Drobytsky Yar is a ravine where the Nazis murdered approximately 16,000 people, most of them Jews. 15,000 Jews from Karkhiv were murdered on one day alone, December 15, 1941. The memorial was inaugurated on December 13, 2002. It was designed by the architect Aleksandr Leibfreid, who was an expert in Kharkiv Constructivism.

A Russian shell partly destroyed the monumental menorah and damaged the foundation.

The same day, another shell exploded close to the Kharkiv Choral Synagogue. The shock wave shattered several windows.

The Kharkiv Choral Synagogue
Community members protecting the ground floor windows

The Choral Synagogue, built between 1909-1913, was designed by Yakov Gervits (1879-1942), an architect from St. Petersburg. It showcases the Orientalist gestures typical of most of his pre-revolutionary projects. During the Soviet period, this house of worship, which was the largest synagogue in Kharkiv, underwent several transformations. In 1923, “by the demand of Jewish proletarians,” it became the Club of Jewish workers, named after the Third International. After the end of the Second World War, the synagogue was turned into a movie house for children. In the 1950s, and for the following three decades, it was occupied by the Spartacus Sports Society.

It wasn’t until 1990 that the synagogue was returned to the Jewish community, one year before the fall of the Soviet Union. The Choral Synagogue somehow managed to survive the machinations of an anti-Semitic atheist state, but now it faces a new existential threat: the indiscriminate shelling of Russian ‘liberators.”