Babi Yar September 1941
In Memory of over 33 thousand Jewish men, women and children murdered at Babi Yar in Kyiv on 29 – 30 September 72 years ago,
On 28 September 1941 notices appeared around Kyiv ordering all Jews to come the next morning with their possessions and documents to the corner of Melnykova and Degtyryovska St. Those who did not, the announcement read, would be executed.
Around 150 were given refuge by non-Jewish friends or neighbours. Each of those people failed certain execution if the Nazis found out.
Some hoped that the proximity of a train station meant that they were being deported.
Instead over the next days Nazi Einsatzgruppen and local collaborators stripped naked and murdered children and adults, hurling their victims’ bodies into the ravine.
In Soviet times the execution during those terrible days of Jews at Babi Yar was assiduously ignored. Plans to build a rubbish dump at the ravine were condemned by the writer and War veteran Viktor Nekrasov who in 1959 spoke out, calling for a monument to those murdered at Babi Yar. The authorities ignored such calls, with even pulp being pumped into the ravine. This led in 1961 to a catastrophic mudslide which claimed the lives of about 2 thousand people.
During the 1960s and 1970s the Soviets continued building over the ravine area. A television centre and sports complex were built on Melnykova St, and by 1980 the territory had mainly been turned into a park, with only a small part of Babi Yar remaining.
After unauthorized meetings on 29 September 1966, the 25th anniversary of the Massacre (addressed by Ivan Dzyuba, Viktor Nekrasov and others) and a year later, the authorities finally acknowledged the need for some monument. The official monument erected by 1968 was to the memory of “Soviet citizens during the period of the temporary German-Fascist occupation of 1941-1943”.
The story of Soviet lies is long and sordid. In 1991, following Ukraine’s independence, a Menorah was erected at Babi Yar.
It is true that many of those murdered at Babi Yar were not Jewish. It is also true that on these terrible days in September 1941 the Jews of Kyiv were massacred as Jews.