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Fairfield To Remember Heroic Tunnel Diggers At Holocaust Ceremony

Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau and Fairfield Police Captain Joshua Zabin, a Holocaust Commemoration Committee member
Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau and Fairfield Police Captain Joshua Zabin, a Holocaust Commemoration Committee member Photo Credit: Contributed photo

FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Richard Freund, Ph.D., who led a team to confirm a legendary tale of World War II heroism, is the featured speaker for the Fairfield Holocaust Commemoration, at 7:30 p.m. April 26 at First Church Congregational.

The commemoration, one of the largest and most long-standing in Fairfield County, also features the Chamber Singers of the Fairfield County Children’s Choir, the Chamber Orchestra from Fairfield Ludlow High School and a moving candle-lighting ceremony by Holocaust survivors and their children.

Freund is the Maurice Greenberg Professor of Jewish History and director of the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford.

In 2016, he led a team of archaeologists who confirmed the existence of the Holocaust escape tunnel at Ponar, Lithuania, where the Nazis killed 100,000, including 70,000 Jews. The tunnel was dug by 80 courageous Jews who were brought to the site by Nazis and forced to exhume and burn the bodies of those who had been killed there.

Knowing that they would be the last people killed at Ponar, they dug a tunnel over a period of two and a half months, and through it they escaped on April 15. Of the 80, only 12 survived the Nazis’ bullets at the end of the tunnel.

Freund’s team’s work at the site confirmed the existence of the tunnel and the stories that the survivors had told.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Committee Chair George Markley at 203-259-1177 or at GCMarkley@aol.com.

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