43 Ames St
Sharon, Ma 02067,USA
March 2, 2006
Vice-Chairman G. N. Portyanko
Dokshitsy Executive Committee of the District Soviet of People's Deputies
Dear Vice-Chairman Portyanko,
Yuri Dorn forwarded your letter about the Jewish Cemetery in Dokshitsy to me for a response. Frankly, the obvious warmth in your letter brings tears to my eyes. Yuri has also informed me about the memorial stone recently erected in Parafyanovo. I especially appreciate your interest, since I realize that because many of the residents of Dokshitz and Parafyanovo before World War II were Jewish, the current population of these neighboring towns has little connection with the previous residents.
My father Maurice (Moshe) Ginsburg was born in Dokshitsy in 1911 and left in 1921, with his mother Dvorshe Kusinitz Ginsburg, and two sisters to settle in Newport, RI, USA. His father was born in Parafyanovo. Large numbers of my relatives emigrated to the United States and Cuba either just before or just after the First World War. In addition two members of my family survived the holocaust. Unfortunately, my interest in the past came too late to talk to people with direct experience from their early life in Europe, and they left very few memories in writing. I have been searching for as much information about my roots as I can find.
When I write this letter, I feel I am speaking not only for myself, but also for many hundreds of relatives and other descendants of the Jewish residents of Dokshitzy and Parafyanovo, as well as the former Jewish residents who are still with us.
It is somewhat difficult for me to come up with a proposal without ever having been to Dokshitsy, but based on your letter and information supplied by Yuri Dorn and other visitors, this is what I suggest. I think we should preserve the remnants of the Jewish cemetery. This could be accomplished by giving some land on the site of the former Jewish cemetery to the Jewish community, hopefully including the remaining tombstones. I would suggest erecting a gated fence around this land. Some extra space should be allowed in case more tombstones turn up. I am not sure what the best method is to preserve the few existing stones. They probably should be dug out of the earth if they are buried, and placed upright. The project should of course have a plaque explaining its purpose, stating something to the effect that ““The Preservation the remnants of the Jewish cemetery in Dokshitz was initiated by the Dokshitz District Council in 2006, and undertaken with the support of the council and the descendants of the former Jewish residents...” This is just a draft, and the exact wording depends on what is done, and who does it.
It has also come to my attention that there is no monument to the Holocaust in Dokshitsy[ this was an error. there is a monument which does not mention Jews]. I think this would be a good time to put one up at the site of the massacres in Dokshitz. This could be similar to the stone in Parafyanovo, but does not necessarily have to be. I am aware that WW II was a disaster not only for the Jewish residents of Byelorussia, but also for all the residents. Because the Nazi holocaust singled out the Jews as Jews in all the territory they conquered, I feel it is appropriate to have a memorial to the Jewish residents, as Jews. This is in no way intended to minimize the suffering of the non-Jewish residents.
In honor of my family and the many other Jews who lived in Dokshitz, and in view of the fact that I know many descendants of the Jewish residents, I will do my best to raise funds for the proposed projects, and cooperate in their planning. I doubt there would be any financial burden the Dokshitsy municipality.
I appreciate how difficult it is to be reminded by monuments of the past tragic events. Part of what Hitler was trying to do was to wipe out the memory of his many victims as well as the evidence of his crimes. For the sake of the victims, as well as ourselves, it is important to remember their existence. By doing the best we can with the cemetery remnants, and with the proposed memorial, we pay tribute to the residents, whether they met a peaceful or a violent death, and we deprive Hitler of attaining his goals.
When visitors come to Dokshitsy in search of their past, they need somewhere to pay their respects. It will help them to know someone in Dokshitsy cares. I hope that we can accomplish the tasks I have proposed in response to your letter out of respect for the dead, as well as for the living, and I look forward to working with you. I will modify my proposal depending on your input.