The post below is signed by Emmanuel Cortey, Deputy Director of Yahad- In Unum, who is accompanying the research trip to Poland (Jun. 16th – Jul. 2nd).
Translation from French: Yelena Moskovich
Sunday, June 29th, 2014
Even a finely prepared investigation can’t prevent certain setbacks. This morning we face a closed door to several witnesses. Some are at mass, others at a town celebration – the weather today is pleasant. Sunday is never an productive day for fieldwork.
The moment’s worry dissipates as we take the road towards the house of Adam, 89 years old, who will be our 37th witnesses of this trip. He had witnessed the trucks transporting Jews to the Zaslaw ghetto, but also the shootings themselves. First that of the elderly and sick Jews, but then, several groups of 2 to 15 Jews. They were executed in the cemetery, the same one that Franciszek had taken us to last evening.
Adam leads us directly to the parking lot that Franciszek indicated from the cemetery which towered over it. Without hesitation, he points out the mass grave : 20 meters long and 3 meters wide at least. Once again we find ourselves here, staring at the asphalt, listening to Adam unfold the precious details of the massacre of these forgotten victims.
The notebook of one of the investigators
Before dinner, the team meets at the restaurant of the hotel to review the investigators’ work. It was during of one of these meetings that I joined the group two days ago. How can I relate to you these tense and eloquent moments where the team leader manages, day after day, to organize and oversee the research work, plan the future interviews, and choose the witnesses to meet in priority. The members of the team have worked together on several research trips and they have developed their own efficient way of communicating; little needs to be said for everything to be understood. Michal, the team leader, listens to the brief descriptions of the witnesses and reflects upon who he thinks would be able to provide the most valuable information. During these meetings, the practical questions of the research trip are carefully treated alongside the historical issues of the testimonies. Here we see Yahad-In Unum’s method at work. Today, this method has saved the memory of numerous victims of the Shoah, but the work cannot stop here. Together, we continue to move forth, towards those victims still without voices.