Babi Yar memorials

article - Babi Yar memorials

Babi Yar, a ravine near Kyiv, was the scene of possibly the largest shooting massacre during the Holocaust. After the war, commemoration efforts encountered serious difficulty because of the policy of the Soviet Union. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a number of memorials have been erected. The events also formed a part of literature.

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Babi Yar memorials

. . . Babi Yar memorials . . .

Soviet leadership discouraged placing any emphasis on the Jewish aspect of the Babi Yar tragedy; instead, it presented these atrocities as crimes committed against the Soviet people in general and the inhabitants of Kyiv in particular.[1] The first draft report of the Extraordinary State Commission (Чрезвычайная Государственная Комиссия), dated December 25, 1943 was officially censored in February 1944 as follows:[2]

Draft version Published version
“The Hitlerist bandits committed mass murder of the Jewish population. They announced that on September 29, 1941, all the Jews were required to arrive to the corner of Melnykova and Dorohozhytska streets and bring their documents, money and valuables. The butchers marched them to Babi Yar, took away their belongings, then shot them.”

“The Hitlerist bandits brought thousands of civilians to the corner of Melnykova and Dorohozhytska streets. The butchers marched them to Babi Yar, took away their belongings, then shot them.”

Several attempts were made to erect a memorial at Babi Yar to commemorate the fate of the Jewish victims. All attempts were overruled.

A turning point was Yevtushenko‘s 1961 poem on Babi Yar, which begins “Nad Babim Yarom pamyatnikov nyet” (“There are no monuments over Babi Yar”); it is also the first line of Shostakovitch’s Symphony No. 13.

An official memorial to Soviet citizens shot at Babi Yar was erected in 1976. This remembrance is still complicated in the great numbers and many sorts of persons murdered there.[3]

Wreath-laying ceremony as part of the week of Babi Yar tragedy commemoration (1991)

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Ukrainian government allowed the establishment of a separate memorial specifically identifying the Jewish victims.

The monuments to commemorate the numerous events associated with Babi Yar tragedy include:

  • Monument to Soviet citizens and POWs shot by the Nazi occupiers at Babi Yar (opened in July 1976). N 50.47139, E 30.44889.
  • Menorah-shaped monument to the Jews (about 100,000) massacred at Babi Yar (opened on Sept. 29, 1991, 50 years after the first mass killing of the Jews at Babi Yar). N 50.47572, E 30.45763.

On the night of 16 July 2006, the memorial dedicated to the Jewish victims was vandalized. Several gravestones, the foundation of the commemorative sledge-stone, and several steps leading to the Menorah memorial were damaged.[4] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine issued a statement condemning the act of vandalism.[5]

  • Wooden cross in memory of the 621 Ukrainian nationalists (including Olena Teliha and her husband) murdered by the Germans in 1942 (installed in 1992)
  • Oak Cross marking the place where two Ukrainian Orthodox Christian priests were shot on November 6, 1941, for anti-German agitation (installed in 2000)
  • Monument to children killed at Babi Yar (opened in 2001 near the Dorohozhychi metro station). N 50.474201, E 30.449585.
  • Magen David shaped stone marking the site for a planned Jewish community center (installed in 2001. Construction of the center was suspended, however, because of disputes over its specific location and scope of activities)
  • Monument to Ostarbeiters and concentration camp prisoners (installed in 2005 at the corner of Dorohozhytska and Oranzheriyna St., close to the 1976 monument)
  • Monument to victims of the 1961 Kurenivka mudslide in Kyiv (installed in 2006, 45 years after the disaster killed hundreds of local residents and workers)
  • Three tombs over a steep ravine edge with black metal crosses, installed by an unknown volunteer. One cross has an inscription: “People were killed in 1941 at this place, too. May God rest their souls.”
  • On 25 February 2017 a monument (dedicated only to Olena Teliha) was unveiled at Babi Yar.[6]
  • Мonument “The Gypsy wagon” in memory of the victims of the Roma Genocide from 1941 to 1943, opened September 23, 2016.[7]

(This list is not comprehensive.)

  • Wooden cross in memory of 621 Ukrainian nationalists murdered in 1942 (1992)
  • Cross at the place where two Orthodox Christian priests were murdered in November 1941 (2001)
  • The memorial stone
  • Мonument “The Gypsy wagon” to the executed Roma (2016)
  • Monument “Menorah” to the executed Jews (1991)
  • Monument to children killed at Babi Yar (2001)
  • Multilingual memorial stones

. . . Babi Yar memorials . . .

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