A team from the Centre of Archaeology completed a ten-day survey in Rohatyn, Ukraine this week aimed at locating Holocaust-era mass graves.
The project was commissioned by Rohatyn Jewish Heritage, a volunteer-led NGO that works to reconnect the history of Rohatyn’s now-lost Jewish community with the people and places of the modern town via heritage and education programs.The team also collaborated with the Cyprus Institute’s Science and Technology in Archaeology Research Centre, who provided scientific support for the project.
The survey focused on three sites in the town where witnesses suggest mass killings and burials were carried out. Approximately 3500 of the town’s residents were rounded up and shot at two pits to the south of the town on the 20th March 1942. Thousands more from Rohatyn and nearby towns and villages were killed in ad hoc executions throughout 1942-1943, and during the “Final Aktion” in June 1943. Rohatyn’s old and new Jewish cemeteries were both desecrated by the Nazis.
The international archaeological team used a combination of non-invasive topographic and geophysical survey methods to map the sites and try to locate the mass graves without disturbing the ground. Photogrammetry techniques were also used to record a sample of the surviving headstones in both the old and new Jewish cemeteries. Volunteers from Rohatyn Jewish Heritage, the Lviv Volunteer Center and from the local community also carried out extensive cleaning operations in the new Jewish cemetery.
The work formed part of a wider project entitled “Recording Cultural Genocide and Killing Sites in Jewish Cemeteries” that focuses on raising awareness of the causes and consequences of cultural genocide and mass killings (using Jewish cemeteries desecrated by the Nazis as a pilot case study), directly tackling racism, xenophobia and hostility in the present.
The results of the surveys in Rohatyn will be available later this year in both English and Ukrainian. The progress of the survey was documented daily on our Facebook page.
Learn more about the Rohatyn Jewish Heritage program
Read more about the Recording Cultural Genocide and Killing Sites in Jewish Cemeteries Project or check out our Facebook page