In a modest ceremony, with no media presence, a trailblazing agreement was signed last month between Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Authority and the archives of the Ukrainian KGB. The agreement is expected to upgrade historical research on the fate of hundreds of thousands of Jews who were persecuted and murdered during the Holocaust in the Soviet Union. The Ukrainian security services will supply Yad Vashem with invaluable World War II documents, including lists of deported and murdered Jews, the minutes of meetings held by officials of the Ukrainian security forces following the liberation of the concentration and death camps, and information on the trials of those involved in killing Jews.
“This is a real breakthrough; it is a major event of outstanding importance,” Avner Shalev, chairman of the Yad Vashem directorate, told Haaretz.
In the next few months, the institution’s researchers will visit the archives in Kiev to begin photocopying documents. Afterward, back in Jerusalem, they will catalog and process them, in an attempt to identify as many names as possible of Jewish Holocaust victims. These names will be added to Yad Vashem’s database, which still lacks the names of some two million Jewish victims, most of them from Eastern Europe. Additionally, Yad Vashem is hopeful that the new documents will enable Holocaust researchers to retell the personal histories of other victims who up until now were identified only by a name.