Market Square in Lviv, Ukraine. (Shutterstock) (Shutterstock)
Lviv

Tunnel’s discovery was made as Israel and Ukraine prepare to commemorate Babi Yar massacre.

By Pesach Benson, United With Israel

More than 100,000 Jews living in the Ukrainian city of Lviv were wiped out by the Nazis, but a few managed to tunnel their way out of the ghetto. More than 70 years later, a local historian discovered the tunnel by using books written by its survivors as a guide, Reuters reported.

Historian Hanna Tychka explained to Reuters that during the war, father and daughter Ignacy and Krystyna Chiger dug a seven-meter tunnel from their home to Lviv’s sewer system and broke through the sewer’s wall. A handful of other Jews also escaped the Lviv ghetto through the sewers. Despite the passage of decades, Tychka was able to use Ignacy’s and Krystyna’s books to locate the tunnel.

“They had to work quietly so that Nazis would not find out that digging activity was happening in the barrack basement. The Jews used a hammer wrapped in a duster,” Tychka told Reuters.

Tychka and her team of diggers discovered a small cave where Jews fleeing Lviv presumably slept on the first night of their escape.

They also found items such as a corroded plate, a figurine of a sheep, and traces of carbide which was used to fuel lanterns. Pieces of glass wedged between bricks in the wall were also found, which Tychka said was to prevent rats from stealing food.

A nearby pipe may have even brought drinking water.

Before World War 2, 100,000 Jews lived in Lviv, one-third of the city’s population. Most were killed, either in the city or deported to the nearby Belzec concentration camp, just across the border in Poland. When the Soviet army liberated Lviv, there were only 200-800 Jews left.

The tunnel’s discovery was made as Israel and Ukraine prepare to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre on Wednesday. On Sept. 29-30, 1941, more than 33,000 Jews from Kyiv — men, women and children — were systematically machine-gunned by the Nazis and Ukrainian collaborators and buried en masse in a ravine.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog arrived in Ukraine for a ceremony commemorating the massacre, which will also be attended by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish, and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.