Renewed contacts with Belarus

A delegation of the Belarusian Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic Church and the Jewish community visited Germany this week. Purpose of the trip is to ask support for the establishment of a monument at the site of the former Nazi death camp Trostenez.

In Trostenez, near the Belarusian capital Minsk, tens of thousands were killed in the years 1942-1944, mostly Jews from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. Led by the Dortmund based educational institute 'Internationales Bildungs- und Begegnungswerk' the initiative was born to transform the site into a memorial. The project was designed by architect Leonid Lewin, chair of the Jewish communities in Belarus. 

ICCJ has written a letter of recommendation for the project earlier this year as was done by our German member, the Deutsche Koordinierungsrat and others. All this resulted in the official approval of the project by German Federal President Joachim Gauck. ICCJ, being part of the initiative, was invited to meet the Belarusian delegation in Frankfurt. Some twenty years ago ICCJ had a member organization in Minsk. Contacts with Belarus however were lost but being part of a strong German-Belarusian network opens new doors.

The Belarusian delegation, among them the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Belarus Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz and Ms. Galina Lewina, on behalf of her father representing the Jewish communities in Belarus, welcomed warmly the idea of rekindling the ties between ICCJ and their institutions. Ms. Galina Lewina was involved in the attempts to start a CCJ in Belarus in the nineties and attended the 1995 Budapest ICCJ conference. Remembering the past with dignity will help us to tie in again our friends in Belarus into our international network. 

Picture (left to right) Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, Frankfurt Pröpstin Gebriele Scherle, Dr. Viktor Balakirev, Intern. Bildungs-und begegnungswerk Minsk, Ms. Galina Lewina.