There are few more disturbing images than looters digging up a mass grave filled with the remains of people summarily executed by the thousands more than 70 years ago looking for gold teeth and valuables to hawk. Yet according to a Kiev-based anti-Semitic watchdog group, that’s exactly what happened last week outside the western Ukrainian city of Volodymyr-Volynsky, north of Lviv, JTA reports.
The site contains the remains of Jews shot by Nazis in 1941, and according to the watchdog group, robbers have looted the area in search of valuables before.
Nazis and local collaborators were responsible for mass executions in Volodymyr-Volynsky, where 18,000 people were buried. Grave robbers raided the area in 2010 and 2011, according to Vladimir Muzhichenko of the Jewish Kiev group, who complained authorities did little to go after perpetrators.
“There is every reason to believe the desecration will continue,” said Muzhichenko.
The group suggested that signage or memorial plaques near the site, which currently resembles an unmarked, overgrown field, would deter vandals from desecrating the burial ground.
Stephanie Butnick is deputy editor of Tablet Magazine and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.