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Gold wedding band with engraved names found near a mass Jewish grave site

Object | Accession Number: 2008.76.1

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    Brief Narrative
    One of 5 rings found together near a mass grave site in Bus'k, Poland (now Ukraine), by Father Patrick Desbois and Yahad-In Unum in 2006. They were found approximately 30 feet from the largest mass grave at the site, possibly the undressing site. The last Jewish residents of Bus'k, over 1700 people, were brought to this site and shot by German Einsatzgruppen [killing squads] and troops and local Polish and Ukrainian collaborators. Eyewitness accounts report that many of the victims threw their valuables into the field to keep the Germans from collecting them.
    use:  1942-1943
    found:  2006
    found: mass execution and grave site; Bus'k (Ukraine)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Father Patrick Desbois
    Subject: Patrick Desbois
    Father Patrick Desbois is the president of Yahad- In Unum (Together as One), an organization he co-founded in 2004 to develop and promote Christian-Jewish understanding. He is also a Roman Catholic priest and director of the Episcopal Committee for Relations with Judaism, which is connected with the French Conference of Bishops.
    Father Desbois was born in Chalon-sur-Saone, France, in 1955 and grew up on a farm in the Bresse region of eastern France. As a young man, he joined the French civil service and taught mathematics in West Africa. He went to Calcutta to work with Mother Teresa for three months. After this, he decided to join the priesthood, a decision that shocked his secular family. He became a parish priest and studied Judaism and learned Hebrew. He asked to do outreach work with groups such as Roma, ex-prisoners, and Jews, and was appointed a liaison with the Jewish community in France.
    His family had lived on the farm throughout the German occupation of France during World War II, 6/25/1940-8/25/1944. His paternal grandfather, as a soldier in the French Army, had been deported by the Germans following the occupation. He was sent to Rava-Ruska prison camp, then on the Ukrainian side of the Polish border, now in Ukraine. His grandfather never talked about his experiences, but he did once comment to his grandson that, as bad as it was for French prisoners-of-war, it was much worse for other types of inmates. A maternal cousin who had been a member of the resistance was deported and killed in a German concentration camp. As an adult, he learned from his mother that the family had often hidden members of the French Resistance on the farm.
    Desbois was haunted by his grandfather's silence. He made repeated trips to Rava-Ruska where his grandfather had been imprisoned. On one visit, the mayor took him to the edge of the forest where a group of elderly villagers were gathered to tell him what they had witnessed. Desbois finally learned what his grandfather would not say - that, unlike what Desbois had supposed, the killings were not done in secret. They were public spectacles, performed in broad daylight, and people wanted to be there and watch. Since 2001, Desbois has led research teams to discover the fate of Jewish victims of Nazi Germany, specifically of the Einsatzgruppen [killing squads] that operated in Eastern Europe during World War II. Based in Paris, Yahad-in Unum’s mission is to discover every mass grave and site where Jews were killed in the Ukraine. They research and compare documents from German and Soviet archives, searching for clues to locations where the killings occurred. They then travel to the villages to find witnesses who will tell them the location of the mass graves. Yahad has identified over 800 of an estimated 2000 sites. Father Desbois also seeks out and has recorded personal testimonies of hundreds of the remaining witnesses to the atrocities. As of 2015, they had recorded 4000 witness testimonies. “At first, sometimes, people don’t believe I’m a priest. I have to use simple words and listen to these horrors - without any judgment. I cannot react to the horrors that pour out. If I react, the stories will stop.”

    Physical Details

    Object Type
    Wedding rings (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Plain gold colored finger ring with text engraved inside the band.
    overall: | Depth: 0.250 inches (0.635 cm) | Diameter: 0.875 inches (2.223 cm)
    overall : metal
    interior, engraved : GOLD. CHARNIER. UNION

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Desbois, Patrick.

    Administrative Notes

    The ring was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2008 by Father Patrick Desbois and Yahad-in Unum.
    Record last modified:
    2023-06-14 07:23:35
    This page:

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