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157 discharged machine gun link ammunition belt sections found at a mass execution site

Object | Accession Number: 2010.443.20

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    157 discharged machine gun link ammunition belt sections found at a mass execution site

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    Brief Narrative
    157 discharged non-disintegrating link ammunition belt pieces for MG 34 and 42 German machine guns, with the contemporary archeological bag that they were transported in, recovered in 2005 by Yahad-In Unum at a mass execution site in Khvativ, a small village in the Lvivska province of Ukraine. An ammunition belt is used to load cartridges into an automatic weapon. In September 1939, following Germany's invasion of Poland, the Lvivska province was occupied by the Soviet Union pursuant to the terms of the German-Soviet Pact. In late June 1941, Germany launched Operation Barbarossa, a surprise attack on Russia. The military assault was coordinated with killing squads whose goal was the Final Solution, the elimination of all Jews from the conquered territories. With the assistance of trained collaborators and the local populace, the goal was achieved through deportations to killing centers and mass executions throughout the region. The lack of adequate rail transport meant that many villages had killing fields where the Jews were shot and buried in huge ditches, along with the bullets and other evidence. Through interviews with the remaining eyewitnesses, Yahad-In Unum locates and documents these remains of a Holocaust by bullets and offers respectful remembrance for the fallen.
    found:  2005 August 17
    use:  1941 June-1942
    found: mass execution and grave site; Khvativ (Ukraine)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Yahad-in Unum
    b. archeological bag, reverse, center, logo, red ink : Isea FRANCE
    Manufacturer: Isea
    Subject: Patrick Desbois
    Subject: Yahad-In Unum
    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.”
    Yahad–In Unum was created in 2004 to facilitate understanding and collaboration between Catholics and Jews. The name of the organization is based upon the Hebrew and Latin words for together. The central reseach mission is to document the mass executions of more than 2 million Jews and thousands of Roma people in Eastern Europe between 1941 and 1944 by Nazi Germany and those who collaborated with them. Through the investigation of this Holocaust by bullets, Yahad-In Unum has discovered hundreds of mass graves of murdered victims and recorded the testimony of more than 3000 witnesses. The organization works to collect the evidence, village by village, region by region, searching for the last witnesses to these crimes. Yahad-In Unum seeks to identify each grave site in order to refute those who deny the Holocaust and to allow for the respectful remembrance of the fallen.

    Physical Details

    Physical Description
    The letter components in this record are assigned for cataloging purposes only.
    a. 157 discharged steel alloy ammunition belt sections made of 1 to 16 linked truncated cone shaped metal containers with significant orange rust and corrosion. An intact container has a flared rectangular body with 2 holes on the top and bottom, 4 on the right, 5 on the left, linked by 4 small metal rings. The container sizes vary from fully intact to only the body intact, averaging 1.375 inches in length and 0.500 inches in diameter. 7 containers hold bullet casings and 14 containers hold metal remnants. Box 1 has 25 belt pieces, box 2 has 56 belt pieces, and box 3 has 76 belt pieces.
    b. Rectangular, white polypropylene sack with a hemmed top opening and a reinforced, double stitched closed bottom. One side has handwritten text in black marker and a preprinted black recycling label. The reverse has a red preprinted manufacturer’s logo. Dimensions: 20.375 inches height; 13.625 inches width.
    a : steel
    b : polypropylene, ink
    b. archeological bag, front, center, black marker : KHVATiV / 15. 04. 06 / BANDES CARTOUCHES / TIG [KHVATiV / 15. 04. 06 / BAND CARTRIDGES / TIG]

    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 cartridge belt was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2010 by Yahad-in-Unum.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:26:30
    This page:

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