It is well known that the Nazi extermination program in Russia was marked by its speed and its mass proportions. According to various testimonies of non-Jews, over eighty thousand Jews were massacred in the course of a few days in Kiev ("Babi Yar"), about thirty thousand in Berditchev ("Bald Mountain"), about eighteen thousand in Zhitomir ("Bagonin"), etc. etc. These witnesses relate that masses of Jews were shot and thrown into vast pits which had been dug and prepared in advance. They add that many wounded Jews, who had not yet breathed their last, were also thrown into the pits, as were children who were all alive and had not been shot at all. It is, of course, impossible to determine exactly how many Soviet Jews were killed by the Nazis. Perhaps in the course of time reports on the "actions" in the Ukraine and White Russia, including official figures, will be found in the Nazi archives. One thing is known beyond doubt — that only a small fraction of the Jewish population managed to flee when the Nazis opened their attack on Soviet Russia on June 22, 1941. For some reason the Soviet authorities still guard the details of the Nazi massacre of Russian Jews in secret and have not yet permitted them to be published.
The dreadful state of the graves of the Jews who were slaughtered by the Nazis — graves not even marked by a wire fence — may be adduced from the appalling story told to me by a reliable person who arrived in Israel recently: a few years ago the Jews of Zhitomir found out that among the various articles being sold to the scrap-materials warehouse there were also bones, which were sent to the nearby sugar factory. Farmers were supplying this "commodity" in fairly large quantities. Eventually it transpired that these were human bones which were removed from the Jewish mass-grave on the outskirts of the city, considered to be an area belonging to no one. The local Jews were terribly shocked to learn of this, and after the authorities were contacted and informed of the frightful situation, this shameful "commerce" was stopped. It was expected that the criminals, who also turned out to have assisted the Nazis in their brutal massacres, would be brought to justice, but no action was taken.
I first heard this story twice from second-hand sources. I therefore resolved to investigate and to interrogate someone who was an eyewitness. I went to a new-immigrant town where the living witness now resides. I heard the story for the third time. I inquired into the details, and the frightful truth of the story was fully borne out.