A plaque at a Holocaust memorial in southern Russia has removed mention of Jews as victims of a massacre from 1942, prompting fury from the local Jewish population.

According to a report by the BBC, the plaque in the city of Rostov-on-Don, which commemorates the murder of at least 27,000 people at nearby Zmiyevskaya Balka by occupying German soldiers, now refers to the victims as “peaceful citizens of Rostov-on-Don and Soviet prisoners of war.

According to the Russian Jewish Congress, at least half of the murder victims from that atrocity were Jews.

The RJC has vowed to take legal action over the unauthorized decision to replace the former plaque, which explicitly referred to Jewish victims.

Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Center estimates that a total of 15,000 to 16,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis in Rostov-on-Don between August 1942 to February 1943.

According to RememberingRostov.com, in August 1942, German soldiers took 27,000 residents of Rostov – mostly Jewish citizens – to a remote area at the edge of the city and murdered them in cold blood, including women, children and the elderly.

“This was the largest massacre of innocent civilians to take place in Russia,” the site stated.

“Little information is available about this genocide. A comprehensive list of victims has never been compiled and there are not many people left of the older generation to offer first-hand knowledge.”

During the days of the Soviet Union, memorials honoring the victims of the Nazi holocaust typically referred Soviet citizens even if they were predominantly Jewish.

RJC President Yuri Kanner told the Moscow Echo: There could have been refugees from Poland, not necessarily Soviet citizens; it's not a question of citizens.”

Defending the more generic plaque, Tamara Pletneva, a Communist MP on the Russian parliament committee for nationalities, said it was time to forget our bitterness and live in peace.

She added: The memorial should commemorate all the war victims... the Soviet Union saved Jews, Russians saved Jews... so why single out Jews? We shouldn't single out any ethnic group.