At the end of January, Yad Vashem – Israel’s National Memorial of the Holocaust and Heroism – announced that it was ready to reconsider the case of recognizing Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Andrey Sheptytsky as the Righteous Among the Nations, if it received yet unknown documents and evidence, illuminating the activities of the Metropolitan in the period of the German occupation in a new light. This has been shared on his Facebook page by the President of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine Boris Lozhkin.
According to him, that was the answer of Yad Vashem to the appeal of a group of Ukrainian scientists, the clergy, the public figures.
“The Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky and his brother Klymentiy personally saved about 200 Jews from death. They were harbored in the chambers of the Metropolitan, in the monasteries, in the church premises, in the factories. The Metropolitan could not order the monks to hide Jews but gave his personal example. The Metropolitan’s brother, Father Klymentiy Sheptytsky was recognized as the Righteous already in 1996, but the Metropolitan himself is still not,” said Lozhkin.
The recognition of the Metropolitan as the Righteous among the Nations has been requested more than once — in particular, by the Jews saved by him Kurt Lewin, Adam Rotfeld, Lily Stern-Pohlmann and by numerous other researchers. This issue has been raised by the Jewish community of Ukraine, including the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine more than once. Rabbi David Kahane has been seeking this title for Andrey Sheptytsky since the 1960s, but the commission’s response has always been negative. At the memorial ceremony dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the appeal was supported by the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky.
According to Lozhkin, the problem is that the post-war Soviet power that captured the Western Ukraine did a good job of tarnishing the reputation of the local community leaders. The Metropolitan was accused of complicity with the Nazis; documents were falsified, which later allowed to start the mass arrests of the clergy — the Soviet Union did not need other local figures of authority, except for the party ones.
“In order to answer the question about the life and work of the Metropolitan, to dispel all the Soviet myths created for decades, to expose false documents written by the NKVD (People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs) and the MGB (Ministry of State Security), it is important to write a complete, scientifically based biography of the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky. This is the opinion of the modern UGCC (Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church), and this is also our opinion, of the Ukrainian Jews, who are grateful to the Metropolitan for every life he has saved. We hope that the answer provided by Yad Vashem will prompt the Ukrainian side to return to the study of the biography and heritage of the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky,” emphasized the President of the JCU.