Ukrainian volunteers have collected the remains of a 96-year-old Holocaust survivor who was killed in a Russian rocket attack.
Boris Romantschenko had to endure the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps Buchenwald, Mittelbau-Dora, Bergen-Belsen and Peenemünde during the Second World War.
He died on Friday when a Russian missile hit his apartment building in the second city of Kharkov. Earlier today, his remains were removed from the destroyed building by a team of volunteers.
The news of his death was reported by the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation and confirmed by Romantschenko’s son and granddaughter.
The foundation, which manages the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora camp memorials and supports education about the Holocaust and Nazi Germany, said: “We are deeply saddened by the death of Romantschenko.
“We mourn the loss of a good friend. We wish his son and granddaughter, who brought us the sad news, a lot of strength in these difficult times.”
Boris Romantschenko, a survivor of four Nazi concentration camps, died Friday when a Russian missile hit his apartment building in the second city of Kharkov.
Earlier today, his remains were collected from the destroyed building by a team of volunteers
An elderly Romantschenko, dressed in the blue-and-white stripes of a concentration camp inmate, stood in front of the infamous “Jedem Das Seine” phrase that adorns the gates of Buchenwald
Romantschenko was a long-time vice-chairman of the Buchenwald-Dora International Committee in Ukraine and regularly participated in memorial and memorial parades.
His death is the result of Russia’s continued bombing of residential centers across Ukraine as they continue their efforts to force the nation into submission.
Boris Romantschenko was born on January 20, 1926 in Bondari near the city of Sumy in northeastern Ukraine.
Although not Jewish, he was taken by German soldiers at the age of 16 and deported to the German city of Dortmund in 1942 to work as a forced laborer, as part of Nazi intimidation tactics against the Ukrainian population at the time.
In a failed escape attempt in 1943, he was arrested and sent to Buchenwald concentration camp, but he also spent time in the Mittelbau-Dora subcamp, as well as Bergen Belsen and Peenemünde – where prisoners were forced to build V2 rockets for the Nazis. war effort.
Despite the appalling conditions, Romantschenko managed to survive three years in captivity by the Nazis.
During a commemoration of the liberation of Buchenwald in 2012, the Holocaust survivor returned to the concentration camp square and declared in Russian: ‘Our ideal is to build a new world of peace and freedom’ – part of an oath that was made by camp survivors.
Municipal workers and volunteers remove debris from damaged residential building in Kharviv as Russian attack on Ukraine continues
A photo posted to Twitter by the Buchenwald-Dora Foundation showed an elderly Romantschenko, dressed in the blue and white stripes of a concentration camp inmate, in front of the infamous phrase “Jedem Das Seine” adorning the gates of Buchenwald .
Translated as “to each his own” or “everything he deserves,” the phrase was used cynically by the Nazis in conjunction with “work sets you free” when they put millions of Jews to death.
The foundation said it is working with 30 other memorial groups and associations to establish a “relief network” to support former Nazi persecutors in Ukraine, including through donations of food and medicine.
It also plans to provide practical assistance to survivors fleeing Ukraine by collecting them from the Ukrainian border or finding shelter in Germany.
According to the aid network, some 42,000 survivors of Nazi crimes still live in Ukraine.
Buchenwald-Dora Foundation director Jens-Christian Wagner confirmed Romantschenko’s death and said the elderly Holocaust survivor had strayed not far from his apartment for months for fear of becoming infected with Covid prior to the Russian invasion.
Wagner warned in February that Ukrainian Holocaust survivors in the east of the country were at risk when Russia began its invasion.
Romantschenko miraculously survived three years of captivity by the Nazis and four different concentration camps (Freed prisoners of Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, April 16, 1945)
In this file photo, taken on January 27, 2020, a barbed wire fence encloses the memorial site of the former Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald near Weimar, East Germany
He said the war is “particularly tragic for the survivors of the Ukrainian concentration camps who suffered with the Russian prisoners in the camps and who are now in the bomb shelter and are threatened with their lives by Russian bombs.”
“This is what they call the ‘operation of denazification,'” said the head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Andriy Yermak, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s widely disbelieved claim that liberating Ukraine from Nazis was one of the reasons for the invasion of Moscow.
“The whole world sees the cruelty of Russia,” Yermak added.
The Russian attack on Ukraine, now in its fourth week, has been stalled by the Ukrainian army and territorial defense forces who inflicted heavy losses on the invaders.
But with Moscow failing to take a single major Ukrainian city, Putin’s forces have resorted to using their air superiority and heavy artillery to carry out sustained bombardment of residential areas, causing massive destruction and significant civilian casualties. .
Nearly a quarter of the 44 million Ukrainians have already been displaced from their homes, including 3.4 million who have fled abroad, according to the United Nations, one of the fastest exodus ever recorded.
A UN count includes more than 900 confirmed civilian deaths, but the actual total is believed to be much higher.