A 96-year-old Holocaust survivor has been killed in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.
As a young man Boris Romantschenko survived the Nazi occupation of his country and four concentration camps but was killed when a Russian shell hit his apartment on Friday.
Kharkiv has been under sustained attack by Russia and Ukrainian officials say at least 500 civilians in the city have been killed so far.
Mr Romantschenko was born in 1926 and deported by the Nazis to perform forced labour in Germany in 1942. The following year he made a desperate bid for freedom but was captured and sent to Buchenwald concentration camp. He also spent time at Mittelbau-Dora subcamp, as well as Bergen Belsen and Peenemünde camps before the Allied victory in 1945.
In 2012 he returned to Buchenwald to celebrate the 67th anniversary of its liberation and recited a pledge common among Holocaust survivors to build "a new world where peace and freedom reign".
He also served as Vice President of the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation and the organisation said it was "deeply disturbed" by news of his murder.
"We mourn the loss of a close friend. We wish his son and granddaughter, who brought us the sad news, a lot of strength in these difficult times," they said in a statement.
The Great Patriotic War
Russians are intensely proud of the contribution their nation made to defeat Hitler and Victory Day is a public holiday celebrated annually with parades, toasts and patriotic fervour.
Putin’s rhetoric has relied heavily on folk memory of the Second World War and he has sought to justify the invasion on the grounds that Ukraine needs to “denazify”.
However, Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy is himself Jewish and lost family in the Holocaust.
On March 1st, Russian forces bombed Kyiv's Babyn Yar Holocaust memorial and many Ukrainians feel Putin’s invasion is little more than history repeating itself.
“To the world: what is the point of saying, ‘Never again’ for 80 years, if the world stays silent when a bomb drops on the same site of Babyn Yar?" Mr Zelenskyy tweeted.
"At least 5 killed. History repeating…”
The Babyn Yar memorial is located on the biggest mass grave in Europe. In 1941 the Nazis murdered 34,000 Jews over a two day period and tossed their bodies into a ravine.
Natan Sharansky, a former head of the Jewish Agency and the current the chairman of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Advisory Board, was forthright in his condemnation after the attack:
“Putin seeking to distort and manipulate the Holocaust to justify an illegal invasion of a sovereign democratic country is utterly abhorrent,” Mr Sharansky said.
“It is symbolic that he starts attacking Kyiv by bombing the site of the Babyn Yar, the biggest of Nazi massacres.”
Main image: Boris Romantschenko. Picture by: Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation.