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Babi Yar

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Babi Yar

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Basic Information

Location 50°28′17″N 30°26′56″E
Country Ukraine
City Babi Yar

General Information

Open to visitors yes
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility no
Website http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/babiyar.html
Geographical Coordinates 50.47139,30.44889



Summary

Babi Yar (Russian: Бабий Яр; Ukrainian: Бабин Яр, Babyn Yar) is a ravine in the Ukrainian capital Kiev and a site of a series of massacres carried out by the Nazis during their campaign against the Soviet Union. The most notorious and the best documented of these massacres took place on September 29–30, 1941, wherein 33,771 Jews were killed in a single operation. The decision to kill all the Jews in Kiev was made by the military governor, Major-General Kurt Eberhard, the Police Commander for Army Group South, SS-Obergruppenführer Friedrich Jeckeln, and the Einsatzgruppe C Commander Otto Rasch. It was carried out by Sonderkommando 4a soldiers, along with the aid of the SD and SS Police Battalions backed by the local police. The massacre was the largest single mass killing for which the Nazi regime and its collaborators were responsible during its campaign against the Soviet Union and is considered to be "the largest single massacre in the history of the Holocaust" to that particular date, surpassed only by the Aktion Erntefest of November 1943 with 42,000–43,000 victims, and the 1941 Odessa massacre of more than 50,000 Jews in October 1941, committed by the Romanian troops. Victims of other massacres at the site included thousands of Soviet POWs, communists, Gypsies (Romani people), Ukrainian nationalists and civilian hostages. It is estimated that between 100,000 and 150,000 more lives were taken at Babi Yar.


History and time period

The Babi Yar (Babyn Yar) ravine was first mentioned in historical accounts in 1401, in connection with its sale by "baba" (an old woman), the cantiniere, to the Dominican Monastery. In the course of several centuries the site had been used for various purposes including military camps and at least two cemeteries, among them an Orthodox Christian cemetery and a Jewish cemetery. The latter was officially closed in 1937.


Remembrance

After the war, specifically Jewish commemoration efforts encountered serious difficulty because of the Soviet Union's policies. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, a number of memorials have been erected on the site and elsewhere. The events also formed a part of literature. Babi Yar is located in Kiev at the juncture of today's Kurenivka, Lukianivka and Syrets neighborhoods, between Frunze, Melnykov and Olena Teliha streets and St. Cyril's Monastery. After the Orange Revolution, President Viktor Yushchenko of Ukraine hosted a major commemoration of the 65th anniversary in 2006, attended by Presidents Moshe Katsav of Israel, Filip Vujanovic of Montenegro, Stjepan Mesić of Croatia, and Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau. Rabbi Lau pointed out that if the world had reacted to the massacre of Babi Yar, perhaps the Holocaust might never have happened. Implying that Hitler was emboldened by this impunity, Lau speculated: Maybe, say, this Babi Yar was also a test for Hitler. If on September 29 and September 30, 1941 Babi Yar may happen and the world did not react seriously, dramatically, abnormally, maybe this was a good test for him. So a few weeks later in January 1942, near Berlin in Wannsee, a convention can be held with a decision, a final solution to the Jewish problem... Maybe if the very action had been a serious one, a dramatic one, in September 1941 here in Ukraine, the Wannsee Conference would have come to a different end, maybe. In 2006, a message was also delivered on behalf of Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, by his representative, Francis Martin O'Donnell, who added a Hebrew prayer O'seh Shalom, from the Mourners' Kaddish.

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