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World War II Holocaust survivor killed in Kharkiv, Ukraine

Municipal workers and volunteers remove debris from a damaged residential building in Kharkiv
Municipal workers and volunteers remove debris from a damaged residential building as Russia’s assault on Ukraine continues March 21, 2022 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. REUTERS/Vitalii Hnidyi

March 22, 2022

By Lidia Kelly

(Reuters) – He survived the Buchenwald Nazi concentration camp during World War II. In the same war he survived the Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp. And the Bergen-Belsen camp.

Last week, Boris Romanchenko, a 96-year-old Holocaust survivor, was killed when shells hit his usual home in the war-ravaged Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

“It is with horror that we report the violent death of Boris Romanchenko in the war in Ukraine,” the Buchenwald Memorial said in a statement on Monday.

The multi-storey apartment building where Romanchenko lived was shelled and set on fire,” the statement said.

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, came under heavy fire from Russian artillery throughout the invasion, which Russian President Vladimir Putin has described as a “special military operation” necessary to disarm and “denazify” its neighbor.

“Please think about how many things he went through,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said late Monday.

“But [he] was killed by a Russian strike that hit an ordinary multi-story building in Kharkiv. With every day of this war, it becomes clearer what denazification means to them.”

According to the Buchenwald Memorial, Romanchenko was born on January 20, 1926 in Bondari near the town of Sumy.

In 1942 he was deported to Dortmund, where he had to do forced labor in the mining industry. After an unsuccessful attempt to escape, he was sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp in 1943, where more than 53,000 people died in World War II.

He was then sent to Peenemünde on the Baltic Sea island of Usedom, where he worked as a forced laborer in the V2 rocket program, in the Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp and in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, the statement said.

“The horrific death of Boris Romanchenko shows how threatening the war in Ukraine is for the survivors of the concentration camps,” the memorial said in a statement.

“We mourn the loss of a close friend.”

According to the memorial, Romanchenko had served for many years as vice president of the Buchenwald-Dora International Committee and dedicated himself to documenting Nazi crimes.

Both the Foreign and Defense Ministries of Ukraine condemned the death.

“Putin managed to ‘achieve’ what even Hitler could not,” Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said on its Twitter account.

(Additional reporting by Ron Popeski and Oleksandr Kozhukhar; Writing by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Michael Perry)

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Bobby Allyn

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