Berlin institute uses experiences from the Second World War to document war crimes in Ukraine


The Pilecki Institute in Berlin, dedicated to researching 20th-century history including Nazi crimes during World War II, is using this experience to collect testimonies from refugees about possible war crimes in Ukraine.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) launched a formal investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine following the Russian invasion on February 24.

The Pilecki Institute, named after a Polish cavalry officer who risked his life to document the situation at the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II, said it had launched its own initiative to document war crimes through interviews with refugees.

“We collect all eyewitness accounts of war crimes in Ukraine, based on the experience we have as an institution that usually deals with … the voices of World War II victims,” ​​Mateusz Falkowski, deputy head of the institute, told Reuters .

More than 369,000 people fleeing the war in Ukraine were registered in Germany, Interior Ministry data showed on Friday.

The questioning of witnesses begins with a request for a brief written description of your own situation during the war and then continues with questions about specific events at specific places and times.

“For example, what happened on that particular day and in that place, that is, in Mariupol, Kherson or other places. Where they were and what exactly they saw,” Falkowski said.

The documented crimes range from the destruction of civilian infrastructure or monuments to sexual violence or other war crimes, Falkowski said, adding that the questionnaire was drafted with the help of legal experts to ensure the resulting data would be legally relevant after the war .

“That means, scientifically speaking, that we are building an archive of oral history,” he said.

“I hope that Ukraine will not be forgotten. The hope is that (western people) … will remember … if they have the opportunity to rely on these interviews, materials and documents,” Falkowski said.

The institute, just a few minutes’ walk from the Berlin Holocaust Memorial in the heart of the German capital, also collects clothing and medical supplies that are packaged and sent to Ukraine.

On Friday, the UN human rights office said there was mounting evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine, including signs of indiscriminate shelling and summary executions, and said Ukraine also appeared to have used weapons to indiscriminate effect.

Russia describes its invasion as a “special military operation” to disarm and “denazify” Ukraine and denies attacking civilians or committing such war crimes. Berlin institute uses experiences from the Second World War to document war crimes in Ukraine

Fry Electronics Team

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