ON the outskirts of the Western Ukrainian city of Rivne, a sign
written in Cyrillic and Hebrew points the way to a hillock above
the road. From the crest of the hill, you can look down into a
round pit, at the center of which rises a stone memorial. Around
the edge of the pit, on dark marble sheets, the names of more than
17,000 Rivne Jews are inscribed in Hebrew.
On Oct. 7, 1941, the Jews of Rivne were driven from their homes
by German invaders. According to eyewitness accounts, they were
marched to this pit, ordered to undress, shot, and shoved, many of
them still alive, into the mass grave.
The memorial here is freshly built, in parts still unfinished,
constructed less than two years ago by Ukrainian Jewish
organizations with support from the Yad Veshem Institute in Israel
and the Ukrainian Council of Christians. But already there are
signs of vandalism, a few fence posts knocked to the ground.
The memorial itself captures the complicated situation in which
the Jews of Ukraine - and of the entire former Soviet Union - find
The Ukrainian government of President Leonid Kravchuk has
visibly encouraged the Jewish community, which numbers about
500,000. The government has supported the return of synagogues, has
officially marked Jewish holidays, and openly acknowledged the
horrible events that took place here during the Nazi occupation
`Wave of anti-Semitism'
At the same time, however, there is what Lvov Jewish community
leader Kotlik Bension calls a "wave of anti-Semitism." Much of it
is associated with extremist Ukrainian nationalist groups, which
embrace anti-Semitic ideas as part of a broader anti-Western and
anti-Russian outlook. In western Ukraine, where such groups have
the strongest support, five extremists won seats in the Ukrainian
parliament in elections held last month.
The most prominent group is the Ukrainian National Assembly
(UNA) and its paramilitary arm, the Ukrainian Self-Defense
Organization (UNSO). The UNA newspaper, Golus Natsii (The Voice of
the Nation), regularly features anti-Semitic cartoons and writings.
"Old and worn-out Europe is in trouble again," wrote Dmitro
Donzob in a recent issue. "The brutal Uncle Sam with his leveling
and ruinous cosmopolitanism, cult of money, and Coca-Cola ideology
is exerting his pressure upon Europe. Both international Zionism
and Russian chauvinism are also engaged in their vicious
UNA leader Andrei Shkil denies any anti-Jewish views: "We don't
want to build an anti-Semitic or anti-Russian state. We want to
build a pro-Ukrainian state."
Ukrainian nationalist groups were particularly active in
protesting the trial and continued detention of John Demjanjuk, a
Ukrainian emigre to America tried for war crimes in Israel but
later released when his conviction was overturned. Ukrainian
protesters gathered at the Lvov synagogue carrying slogans such as
"All the gold of Ukraine is in the hands of Jews," reports Mr. …