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Polish Priest Protecting Memorial On Murdered Jews' Mass Grave

There is a story behind these pages presenting the picture of a priest, his restored church and a memorial marking the common grave of 10,000 Jews murdered by the Nazis in a forest of Nowojelnia, 5328 2535, (Dyatlovo district) in Belarus.

In late February, 2000 the JewishGen support desk received an inquiry from Fr. Andrzej Strus asking where we suggest his friend Fr. Wieslaw Dabrowski send pictures of a memorial to murdered Jews he found in a forest in Belarus. Fr. Dabrowski’s intention is to protect this memorial.

Our response was, "There is no better place than JewishGen. Please have Fr. Dabrowski send us information about the memorial, how he came upon it, and what he plans to do about it." Shortly thereafter, we received a letter from Fr. Dabrowski, including his photograph which we requested, and pictures of the site. His letter was translated from the Polish by Joanna Zimmerman as follows:

"Honorable Mr.General Secretary, Mr. Carol Skydell

I assumed leadership of the parish of Nowojelnia in White Russia (Bialoruss) in October, 3, 1994 and found in the village of Kocki, 3 Kilometers off Nowojelnia a mass grave of innocent murdered Jews. On Decenber 28, 1942 the Germans killed 10,000 children, women and men heroes of that Nation. They gathered them from the entire area of Dziatlow. A Monument had been erected in honor of these martyrs and the grave site was fenced in – 61 meters 18 cm long and 5 meters 13 cm wide.

Over time, however, the fence has partially deteriorated. I decided -in order to commemorate the memory, as time mercilessly erodes, of innocent brothers and sisters - to restore the fence. May such a tragedy never again touch the People who were so harmed by evil people.

As soon as the spring of 2000 arrives I will start reconstructing the fence and will make sure that flowers will grow on that scared soil that has been soaked with blood of these innocent people. After so many years I do not know the names, as the Germans did that

Killing in one day with no witnesses around but elders from my parish recalled that not all the victims died instantly and some were still alive after the grave was covered with soil. This is horrifying but unfortunately this is the recollection of those I have spoken with.

Priest professor Andrzej Strus that visited me here in Nowojelnia and that currently teaches at the UPS university in Rome, told me that he had written about my intentions of restoring the memorial site.

Many years ago when I visited Jerusalem I saw the Yad va-Shem museum and the immense efforts to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, so may our effort somehow compensate the People of Israel for their suffering in those days.  When everything will be completed I will send photos and a video cassette.  In the meantime, I attach pictures that show what it all looks like in the fall of 1999 as well as a personal photo which you Sir, Secretary General have requested.

A few details about myself :

Priest Wieslaw Dabrowski was born on October 17, 1936 in Remberatow, today part of Warszawa. Was ordained on June 9, 1963 in Poznan. I founded 8 churches and a novitiate home for clergymen.

The communists transformed the old wooden church into a movie theater. Once I regained the ruins on October 3, 1994 we started reconstructing the building expecting it to be completed on July 15 , 2000..."

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JewishGen is pleased to bring this information to all who come this way. And for those who wish to communicate their feelings to him, Fr. Wieslaw Dabrowski can be reached at

Fr. Wieslaw Dabrowski
Roman Catholic Parish of Most Sacred Heart of Lord Jesus
Belarus 231470 Nowojelnia


frstraus9.jpg (245330 bytes) Mass grave in the forest in Nowojelnia
frstraus4.jpg (350062 bytes) Memorial at mass grave in forest in Nowojelnia
frstraus7.jpg (246474 bytes) close up of memorial
frstraus3.jpg (157646 bytes) Fr. Dabrowski's church in Nowojelnia under restoration