Holocaust by Bullets exhibit at Vilna Gaon Jewish Museum

Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum
DELFI (A.Didžgalvio nuotr.)

It will be displayed at the Tolerance Center of the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum, Naugarduko Str.10/2, Vilnius, Lithuania. Based on ten years of research and investigation by the French organization Yahad-In Unum and its founder, Father Patrick Desbois, the exhibit chronicles the lesser-known side of the Holocaust through eyewitness testimonies, photographs and maps.

Known as the “Holocaust by Bullets,” the systematic killing of all Jews and Roma started before the creation of concentration camps throughout the ex-Soviet Union from 1941 to 1944 and continued until WWII‘s end. The form of genocide detailed by Yahad – In Unum’s exhibit is unlike any other study of genocidal activity ever conducted and presented.

“Because some of the images are disturbing, they have been presented in a thoughtful and discreet fashion, enabling the visitor to view them at his or her own discretion,” says Father Desbois. “The visitor in effect becomes a ‘witness’ to the crime, choosing to delve deeper into the findings.”

Yahad – In Unum, founded by French Catholic priest Father Patrick Desbois, presents its painstaking 10 years of research in a succinct yet approachable manner that enables the visitor to uncover, step-by-step, the crime committed against Jews and Roma by the Nazi killing units.

In Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur, the Balkans and Syria, such mass killings are modeled after what Father Desbois calls the archetype of these horrors – those village-by-village, in situ (on site) massacres – perpetrated by the Nazis and their collaborators in Eastern Europe.

“This method of killing Jewish men, women and children and leaving them in mass graves in the middle of the forest was systematically employed by the Nazis in Eastern Europe. Each killer saw his victim, each victim saw his killer,” says Marco Gonzalez, Director of Yahad – In Unum in Paris. “Unfortunately, this is the same method being used today in the mass crimes which continue to take lives of innocent groups of people across the world”.

The exhibit gives viewers a chance to learn about this lesser-known side of the Holocaust, through eyewitness testimonies, photographs, and maps. The exhibit presents Yahad’s identification of five steps of the crime that took place almost systematically for every mass killing throughout Eastern Europe leading up to the executions—the arrest, the road, the undressing, the shooting, and after the executions, the looting.

About The Exhibit

A key strategy regarding the presentation of the exhibit in Lithuania is to challenge new generations to face issues of anti-Semitism and violence today. Father Desbois believes that if these issues are tackled, named and discussed, it will help prepare new generations to take responsibility and perhaps decide to take action to combat them. He adds: “With violence and anti-Semitic attacks on the rise, the work of Yahad – In Unum is crucial and more important than ever. We are on the front lines of this critical battle. The exhibit which premiered in UNESCO – in January 2015 – will have its second European presentation in Lithuania, where over 90% of the Jewish population was murdered during the Holocaust.


Between 1941 and 1944, more than 2 million Jews were massacred when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. In a period of three and half years, the Nazis killed nearly every Jew in the region. The mass murder was part of the Holocaust, Hitler’s genocide of the Jewish people. Until recently, this chapter of Holocaust history, referred to as the “Holocaust by Bullets,” was relatively unknown. To date, Yahad – In Unum has identified over 1700 mass killing sites and interviewed over 4,000 local, non-Jewish eyewitnesses in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Romania, Republic of Macedonia and Poland. Since 2013, the organization has been conducting research in Lithuania. In its two years of research, Yahad has interviewed 243 direct witnesses of the Holocaust and investigated 131 mass killing sites.

As distinct from the concentration camps, there are few survivors to tell the world what had happened. It is estimated that in less than five years, these witnesses will be gone.

About Yahad – In Unum

Yahad – In Unum combines the Hebrew word – Yahad meaning “together,” with the Latin phrase In Unum, meaning “in one.” Founded in 2004 by Father Patrick Desbois, the organization is dedicated to systematically identifying and documenting the sites of Jewish mass executions by Nazi mobile-killing units in Eastern Europe during World War II. The objective of this work is to substantiate the “Holocaust by Bullets,” provide evidence, give proper respect to the victims’ burial places and disseminate the universal lessons about genocide and mass killings. Yahad – In Unum is the sole Christian organization dedicated to finding the truth about these killings. Yahad-In Unum is the sole Christian organization dedicated to finding the truth about these killings (this is two times). For more information, please visit http://www.yahadinunum.org/

About the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum

The Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum is a national institution under the Ministry of Culture of Lithuania that collects, conserves, investigates, restores and exhibits the historical, material and spiritual heritage of Lithuanian Jews. This includes traditional and modern Jewish objects of art, as well as documents and objects connected with Holocaust. The Museum is composed of five buildings: the Green House – the exhibition on the Holocaust, the Memorial Museum of the Paneriai Mass Murder Site, the former Tarbut Gymnasium in which a modern Center for Litvak Culture and Art will be established, the Tolerance Center and the Jacques Lipchitz Memorial Museum in Druskininkai (currently closed for renovation). The Museum was re-opened in 1989, after 50 years of non-existence: history of Jewish museums in Vilnius reaches back to 1913. For more information, please visit: www.jmuseum.lt

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