Presentation of the official delegation of the Ukraine at the Vilnius Forum
Grigorij Sereda, Director of the Department of Nationalities and Migration at the Ministry of Justice
3-5 October 2000
The Ukraine sent an official delegation led by Grigorij Sereda to the Vilnius International Forum on Holocaust-Era Looted Assets who gave the presentation set out below.
All countries present at the Forum agreed the Final Declaration.
Ladies and gentlemen
The time under Nazi occupation was the worst days which were experienced by the Ukrainian Jews. This is not a tragedy of the Jewish people only, this is a tragedy of all Ukrainian people" - said the Prime-minister of Ukraine Viktor Yuchshenko during the international meeting on Holocaust in Stockholm.
Today the whole world knows the tragedy of Baby Yar. Thousands of Kyiv habitants led by the chiefs of the state come here every year on the 29th of September - the day when massive executions began.
The President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma takes part in the ceremony of laying flowers to the monument of Nazi genocide victims.
The State is paying more and more attention to studying the consequences of the Holocaust.
The Law on the victims of Nazi which was adopted in Ukraine this year allows to define precisely legal status of those persons, who during the war were pursued by Nazi, have suffered physically and morally, lost the property.
The Government created an interdepartmental Commission dealing with problems of "Nazi gold" and payment of compensation to victims of Nazism.
The research in this area is going deeper. In particular the collection and preservation of archive materials related to the Jewish spiritual heritage are held by a Sector of the National Library of Ukraine after V.I.Vernadskyi and the Institute of Jewish Studies.
The archives of the Cabinet of Jewish Culture at the Academy of Science of Ukraine are kept in the Institute of Manuscripts at the National Library of Ukraine. It contains a big collection of the Jewish musical folklore. During the official visit to the State of Israel the President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma granted the first disk with records of Jewish folklore music, collected in Ukraine in the first half of XX century to the Government of Israel.
Teaching of special courses on the History of Holocaust was started in the State Universities of Donetsk, Zaporizhya, Lviv and also in the Kyiv International Solomon's University
The victims of the Holocaust are revealed and giving a humanitarian help by the Fund "Mutual Understanding and Reconciliation" dealing with social programs.
The studying allows to create a general picture of the Holocaust in Ukraine, reveal some new documents unknown before, the names of killed people, to attract the attention of publicity to well-known and recently revealed places of massive burials of victims of the Holocaust. One of the largest and most significant studies done in Ukraine is the collection of verbal testimonies, carried out by the Fund of Historic Video Documents "Those Who Survive the SHOAH". More than 3,500 people were interviewed in more than 185 cities of Ukraine. These testimonies in six languages are an invaluable contribution to the history of the Holocaust in Ukraine.
Today the search of names of victims and rescuers is continued. Israeli museum-memorial "Yad-Vashem" fixed 1403 names of the rescuers as for 01.01.2000.
The Jewish Confederation of Ukraine realize the program "The Memory of Holocaust" with the main goal to immortalize the memory of lost Jews.
A special attention is paid to revealing and returning of monuments of Jewish culture lost during the Holocaust in Ukraine.
Sure, the practical work on assuring their return can be overcome by common efforts. A readiness for a dialogue is necessary from the other part and taking into account the international legislative norms. The articles about return of cultural values is not casually included in all intergovernmental agreements on cultural cooperation.
With adoption of the Law of Ukraine on the export, import and returning of cultural values (1999) the questions of a strengthened control of their export from Ukraine have been settled.
Cultural values of the Jewish religious cult, which are detained and confiscated on the border of Ukraine by the State service of the control of moving of cultural values through state border of Ukraine, are gratuitously transferred to Jewish religious communities.
The problems discussed by us, are extremely difficult and require an association of the efforts of state and public organizations.
We see the perspective in a cooperation on bilateral basis, in frameworks of regional programs, and international scale. This is confirmed and by Vilnius Forum itself. Thank you for your attention.
Vilnius International Forum on Holocaust-Era Looted Cultural Assets Website, accessed 27 November 2002. The website no longer exists (20 July 2007).