[T]he requisitioned civilians. This concerns a category of witnesses, often children or adolescents at the time, of whom one finds no trace in official reports or archives. Neither victims nor executioners, these people were often requisitioned at their homes on the morning of the execution by an armed man; sometimes they were requisitioned because they had a wagon, a shovel, cooking utensils, a bag, or a sewing needle. This invisible group, undoubtedly, make up one of our principal discoveries, all the more so as they appear nowhere in written documents. At most, they are referred to in the passive form: ‘The graves were dug,’ ‘the clothes of the Jews were taken off,’ and so on. But by whom and how? These requisitioned civilians were not hiding at their windows watching the columns of victims marching toward the graves. Neither were they perched on trees in the distance. They were at the place of the crime, very often well before the Jews were brought there. And this anonymous labor assisted the executions from start to finish, beside the victims and their murderers, sometimes sitting on the grass, only several meters from an open and screaming grave. A vital point is that these requisitions were not simply improvised. They were made an integral part of the implementation of the crimes. At times more than 150 children were used. Forced actors, these requisitioned locals shine a light on these dark events and allow us to gain an accurate understanding of what happened.” – Father Patrick Desbois, “The Witnesses of Ukraine or Evidence from the Ground: The Research of Yahad-In Unum” (collected in The Holocaust in Ukraine: New Sources and Perspectives, 2013) (emphases in original)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.