The Holocaust’s Final Act
NPR visits Yatarny, Russia
European history buffs already know how fascinating the Russian province of Kaliningrad Oblast is. Sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland on the Baltic Sea—it does not border any other part of Russia; the awesome term for such a thing is an exclave—it had been the German territory of East Prussia until after World War II, when Russia took it over and repopulated it with their own people. Königsberg, the native city of Immanuel Kant and other prominent Germans throughout history, became Kaliningrad. Etcetera.
A brief NPR story reports on another, less-discussed part of East Prussia/Kaliningrad’s history: Its village of Yantarny was the site of arguably the final event of the Holocaust. In January 1945, several days after the liberation of Auschwitz, a group of 7,000 Jews were marched to the Yantarny beach, ordered into the (unimaginably frigid) water, and shot to death.
There is a small memorial recognizing the event at the out-of-the-way beach; even it was not put in place until 2000, because, among other reasons, prevailing Soviet ideology discouraged the singling out of ethnic or religious groups that invariably takes place when you commemorate the Holocaust.
The story is excellent: Give it a listen.