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“Murderers – on your knees before God”


On 25 November, in Zhovka, thousands of Christians from all denominations, members of different parties and civic organizations, children and adults not only from the Zhovka district, but from neighbouring Ukrainian and Polish areas and Lviv were united in mourning the victims of the communist repression of 1946-1948, whose remains were found five years ago in the Crypt of the Monastery of Christ’s Birth.

The 56 coffins were placed on the main square, where representatives of all the Churches in the district took part in a memorial service. People came to the requiem – viche carrying banners reading “Murderers [katy], on your knees before God!”

During the funeral procession to the cemetery, soldiers from the Ukrainian Armed Forces and prominent members of the community bore the coffins with the victims of totalitarianism, among them were the remains of the 61st child murdered, a fifteen-year old. The coffins were strewn with flowers.

A wooden cross has been erected at the common grave with the words “To the Victims of the Communist Terror”.

The Zhovka authorities have promised to establish a memorial here in the near future.

According to Father Mykola from the Monastery, the remains were found by chance in the monastery crypt five years ago, and had been taken to the Church of St Josafat where they had been kept in plastic bags. Near the remains, they had found bullets, photographs, pages from newspapers, coins, but no clothing, and it was most likely that the people had been killed naked.

A Zhovka regional expert Mykhailo Kurbai says that there are several versions as to who the victims were. Some probably belonged to families caught in the “Wisla” operation, while others may have been those who tried to escape from deportation but were caught by the NKVD.

This is corroborated by local residents whose families were forcibly deported from the territory of the present Yavorivsky testing range, with the villages being razed to the ground.

It is likely that among the victims was an Armenian priest, the monks learned from a bishop who visited from Yerevan several years ago.

Local people expressed their outrage, asking why the authorities had taken five years to bury the remains and why the excavation had been carried out by volunteers – the priests, members of “Memorial”, “Prosvita” [“Enlightenment”], students, and why the state authorities had not responded promptly in this matter of national and Christian importance.


Based on information at:

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