Delegation of Ukrainian Council of Churches visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington

The official activity of the delegation of Ukrainian Council of Churches and religious organizations in the United States started with a visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

After touring of exposition the leaders of Ukrainian denominations together with experts and scientists from the Museum of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies held a meeting-debate on the problems of studying the historical facts and events of World War II in Ukraine.

Research Scholar of the Center Martin Dean presented a study on the camps and ghettos in Nazi-occupied Ukraine. Researcher Oleksandr Marichenko presented the results of their scientific research on the topic of Soviet camps of war prisoners in Ukraine.

Director of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies Paul Shapiro gave impressive examples of brave deeds and sacrifices of people of different nationalities and faiths, who saved hundreds of people from death during the war.

While presenting the UCCRO delegation, the Chief Rabbi of Kyiv and Ukraine Yaakov Dov Bleich said that the mission of the Ukrainian denominations is to show an example of reconciliation, as well as to encourage religious organizations and governments of other countries to promote understanding between people of different denominations and nationalities.

In his speech Patriarch Filaret, the Primate of the UOC-Kyiv Patriarchate, told about the deep impressions of what he saw in the museum. In his opinion, the inhumane Holocaust atrocities are unlikely to be repeated in the future, "but the evil can happen in another form if people are indifferent to its emergence at the beginning". The Patriarch said that freedom of choice for human does not provide the right for evil, but instead of this people should be sowers of good and love.

The head of the UGCC, Archbishop Sviatoslav said: "We represent millions of people who in their worst moments of life, like all people, could incite to hatred and intolerance. But today our Ukrainian delegation here and, most importantly in Ukraine, insists that we, their leaders, reject this attitude. Together with those who survived after the Holocaust, we proclaim: "Never again". And we pray for Ukraine and all countries would be able to get rid of anti-Semitism once and for all".

The senior bishop of the Church of Christians of Evangelical Faith of Ukraine Mykhaylo Panochko said that in preparation for this trip, he collected a lot of evidences about how dozens of evangelical Christians in Ukraine save Jews during the war, sometimes at the cost of their lives. He proposed to explore the collected evidences and to attach to other evidences, which are stored and are mentioned in the museum. Mykhaylo Panochko also urged the current generation of Jews to lend a hand of reconciliation to Ukrainians and honor their sacrificial deeds.

It will be recalled that on April 24 the House of Commons of Canada has unanimously adopted a statement about reverence for the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky’s heritage, who saved nearly two hundred Jews during the Second World War.

The delegation of the Ukrainian Council of Churches and religious organizations visited Canada and the United States within the framework of the program in honor of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky’s Heritage (from 22 till 29 April).


Photoreport by Miriam Lomaskin, translation by Svitlana Sydorenko

 © 2012 The Institute for Religious Freedom Kyiv, Ukraine