The first mass killing of unarmed civilians in the Nazi-occupied Kyiv took place on September 29-30, 1941. Starting with those two days and till October 11, 1941, the Nazis killed almost all the Jewish population of the city more than 50 thousand men, women and children. As many as 34 thousand were killed only in the first two days of the massacre.
According to different estimations, almost 150 thousand Jews, Soviet prisoners of war, members of the Ukrainian nationalist liberation movement and Roma were killed in Babyn Yar over the years of the Second World War. The shooting continued until the liberation of Kyiv in 1943.
It should be noted that people of all nationalities were killed during the Nazi occupation of Ukraine. However, according to the Nazi doctrine the Jews had to be the first to annihilate.
Researchers maintain that out of the total number of the killed in the territory of this country, there were almost 1.5 million Jews from the city of Lviv in western Ukraine to the city of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.
“Jews were part of Ukrainian culture before the Second World War. Jewish communities were commonplace in villages, towns and cities. And almost all of them were killed”, wrote Ukrainian historian Anatoliy Podolski. In his words, only those who were evacuated or went through the whole war managed to survive.
During Soviet times, they preferred to be silent about that horrible event. Ukrainian dissident Ivan Dzyuba was the first to bring up the topic of Babyn Yar massacre. On September 29, 1966, he called Babyn Yar the common tragedy of the Jewish and Ukrainian people while delivering a speech to participants in a mournful ceremony. Along with Auschwitz, Babyn Yar became the horrible symbol of the Holocaust in the territory of Eastern Europe and a terrible example of what man-hateful theories lead to.
In the democratic Ukraine, the memory about Babyn Yar tragedy is honored at the State level. It shows that in the collective memory of the people the mournful events similar to that massacre of innocent people do not have a time frame.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on September 29, “The killed in Babyn Yar were thousands of destroyed human destinies. Thousands of families, the whole generations were exterminated. Thousands of frightened eyes of children unaware of that they were led to be killed. Thousands of reminders to all humanity what Xenophobia, racism and intolerance may lead to”.
Zelenskyy said that seventy-nine years ago a black page was written in the common past of Ukrainian and Jewish people, the page that we today have no right to forget.
The newspaper Holos Ukrainy