Fatah's explanation for why Jews were murdered during the Holocaust
Fatah's explanation for why Jews were murdered during the Holocaust Palestinian Media Watch

On Facebook, Fatah posted the three photos above from World War II together with a story it presented as authentic. According to the version posted by Fatah, Jews willingly and eagerly agreed to bury Russian civilians alive in order to save their own lives. Seeing this, a Nazi soldier proclaimed to the Russians:

"I just wanted you to know who the Jews are and why we are killing them!"

[Official Fatah Facebook page, Feb. 27, 2019]

Fatah presented the story as an authentic quote from the purported memoirs of a Russian civilian:

"One of the Russian prisoners in World War II wrote in his memoirs: 'In 1941 the Germans made us dig deep pits in the ground. When we finished doing what they wanted, they brought a group of Jews, threw them into the pits, and ordered us to bury them. We refused to carry out this atrocious act. So the Germans ordered to throw us in instead of the Jews, and ordered them to bury us. The Jews began to pour dirt on us without hesitation. The dirt almost covered us, but the Germans stopped them and took us out. We were surprised when the German commander shouted at us: "I just wanted you to know who the Jews are and why we are killing them!"'"

[Official Fatah Facebook page, Feb. 27, 2019]

Fatah chose to post the text without comment. It did not condemn this story for portraying Jews as evil, selfish, and ungrateful. Nor did it distance itself from the Nazi commander's justification of the murder of Jews in the Holocaust based on the antisemitic libel that Jews are defined by these character traits.

Fatah's antisemitic story justifying the murder of Jews in the Holocaust does bear some similarities to a historical account documented by a JTA news release on Nov. 27, 1942. However, in reality, Jews and Ukrainians all acted heroically by refusing to bury each other alive, and therefore were all murdered by the Nazis.

The following is the historical account of Jewish and Ukrainian heroism released by JTA in 1942:

"Ten old men in a Ukrainian town - five of them Jews and the other five Ukrainians - were all buried alive by the Nazis when each group refused to inter (sic., bury) the other, it was reported by a Red Army sergeant today, who was told of the mass burial by Zuni Greilich, the grandson of one of the Jewish victims.

When the Germans invaded the village of Skarlivka, in the Kiev province, the greater part of the population fled and those who remained hid in the gardens and the fields. Young Greilich, who had taken refuge in the attic of his house, could see everything that was happening in the street below. A German officer, with whip in hand, selected ten bearded, elderly men - five Ukrainians and five Jews. They were each given a spade and ordered to dig a pit. When the pit had been half dug the Nazi ordered the Ukrainians to get out and instructed the Jews to continue digging. After a while he told the Ukrainians to take up their spades and to cover the Jews, who were still digging the pit, with the earth that had been dug up.

The Ukrainians, however, just looked horrified when they heard the German officer's command and did not pick up their spades. When the Nazi saw that they would not obey his orders, he forced the Ukrainians to get into the pit and told the Jews to climb out and bury their neighbors. The Jews, among whom was Rachmiel Greilich, Zuni's grandfather, likewise refused to move. Using his foot, so that the old Ukrainians in the pit should not see him, the Nazi shoved some earth on top of them and called; "Look, the Jews are willing to hury (sic., bury) you. You'd better get out and bury them." But the old men did not budge.

Thoroughly infuriated by this time, the Nazi shoved the old Jews into the pit, on top of the Ukrainians, and, together with his men, buried them all alive. Young Zuni succeeded in escaping from Skarlivka that night and after several days he encountered a Red Army detachment, including Sergeant Leizer Lieberman, to whom he told the story."

[JTA news release on Nov. 27, 1942]