DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado has been chosen to become the site for a new educational center to further the teaching of the impact of genocide.
It will revolve around the work of a French priest who has gained international attention and was in Denver this week.
Father Patrick Desbois spoke at Temple Sinai and the Colorado Historical Society.
He has gained prominence for his historical efforts in Eastern Europe regarding World War II. He also spoke of recent current events including a march by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia that shocked America.
The torchlight parade with anti-Semitic chants and violence at a rally did not shock Father Patrick Desbois. He told CBS 4’s Rick Sallinger, “I’m not surprised at all because it’s all over the planet. These people are killers in service to Hitler.”
This French priest knows about Nazis. Since 2004, he has been uncovering mass graves of the Jewish faithful and Roma, also known as “gypsys,” who were murdered in Eastern Europe as part of the Holocaust.
Sometimes betrayed by villagers, the victims were rounded up, shot to death, and buried in ravines and fields.
Jessica Milstein’s grandmother, who is now in her 90’s, was a survivor who escaped the notorious massacre at Babi Yar in the Ukraine.
She said, “They were forced to dig mass graves, then lined up and shot.”
Father Desbois and his team have conducted over 5,800 interviews and video witness testimonies across numerous countries which have uncovered some 2,300 mass graves.
The witnesses may soon be gone with age, but their stories will live.
And Father Desbois’ work through the organization called Yahad In-Unum may be further taught in Denver. “We have chosen Colorado. We have good friends. We will try to establish Yahad Colorado,” he said.
The story of the “Holocaust by Bullets” is one that Milstein says must be retold. She said her grandparents were reluctant to tell their children, but have opened up to her.
“I knew more about my grandmother’s story at age 13… Sorry, I always get emotional, than either of her children,” she said.
Father Desbois is not only uncovering mass graves of those killed in World War II, but now is working in Iraq where the Yazidi population has been subjected to mass killings by ISIS.