Bodies of 286 Jews Murdered in Holocaust Found in Ukraine Basement

The bodies of 286 Jewish people, mostly women and children, were found in a basement below the town square’s marketplace in Sataniv, Ukraine.

The town was known to once have an organized Jewish community where numerous pioneers of the Haskalah movement, including Isaac Satanow, Menachem Mendel Lefin and Alexander b. Zevi Margaliot, once lived. After surviving persecution in the region for centuries, the Germans infiltrated in May 1942 and killed 800 people, the majority of which were Jews.

Of those, 286 were gassed in gas chambers in two separate basements, according to Israel’s Ynet News, citing the KGB’s records as well as eye-witness records from those who returned to the city after the war.

The basements were opened after the war, but they were left open without moving the bodies with a sign marking it as the place of a mass murder. Over the years, however, the entrance disappeared below the rubble of a ruined household standing above it.

It took the local Jewish community several legal battles in order to finally gain ownership of the basement. Searches began on the site in 2019, and one by one, bones and articles of clothing of those savagely killed was found. Among the rubble was a mezuzah, which stands at the doorway of Jewish homes, suggesting that the ruins above the basement once belonged to a Jewish family.

The remains of the Jewish people left in the basement were collected in sacks to be taken for burial in the city’s ancient Jewish cemetery.