Nazi genocide research leads to priest’s award

A French priest has received a human rights award for research uncovering millions of previously unaccounted-for Nazi genocide victims.

Father Patrick Desbois was awarded the Lantos Foundation’s Human Rights Prize last week for being a “vital voice standing up for the values of decency, dignity, freedom, and justice.”

The prize is named after a Holocaust survivor who later became a California congressman.

United States-based Desbois, who teaches at Georgetown University’s Programme for Jewish Civilization, is the founder of Yahad-In Unum. This is a Paris-based organisation dedicated to identifying and commemorating Nazi mass-execution sites in Eastern Europe during World War II.

Desbois’s research focuses on Jews who were killed in mass shootings by Nazi units in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Moldova and Romania between 1941 and 1944. He found more that one-and-a-half million Jews were murdered like this.

The award also recognises his work in collecting evidence of the Islamic State’s genocide of Yezidis, a Kurdish religious minority in Iraq.

Debois has published two books about his work.

The first, “Holocaust by Bullets: A Priest’s Journey to Uncover the Truth behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews,” was published in 2008.

His second book, a memoir on his life as an anti-genocide activist and Holocaust scholar, is due for publication in 2018.


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