Melbourne Community Commemorates 75th Anniversary of Babi Yar

September 27, 2016 by David Marlow
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The Victorian Jewish community has commemorated the 75th anniversary of the massacre of Jews at Babi Yar, a ravine near Kiev, where 33,771 Jews were shot over a two-day period starting on 29 September 1941. 

 Margaret Fitzherbert MP, Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs Inga Peulich MP, ICV President Bayram Aktepe, VicPol Deputy Commissioner Andrew Crisp, VMC Commissioner Sam Alamaliki and JCCV President Jennifer Huppert

Margaret Fitzherbert MP, Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs Inga Peulich MP, ICV President Bayram Aktepe, VicPol Deputy Commissioner Andrew Crisp, VMC Commissioner Sam Alamaliki and JCCV President Jennifer Huppert

For decades, little was known of those events, despite evidence from survivors and witnesses of the events.

The commemoration held at the Jewish Holocaust Centre was a joint project of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV), Kangarusskis, the Australian Forum of Russian Speaking Jewry, Russian Sunday School LIDER, the Jewish Holocaust Centre and the Association of Former Inmate of Nazi Concentration Camps and Ghettoes from the Former Soviet Union (AFICC).

Over 150 members of the Victorian Russian-speaking Jewish community attended the commemoration, which focused on the dangers of antisemitism, the importance of remembrance and the celebration of freedom for new generations.

Jennifer Huppert, President of the JCCV welcomed the members of parliament and other dignatories who attended, including Inga Peulich, Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Steve Dimopoulos MP, representing the Minister, Margaret Fitzherbert MP, representing the Leader of the Opposition, Sam Hibbins MP, Member for Prahran, VicPol Deputy Commissioner Andrew Crisp, Sam Almaliki, Victorian Multicultural Commissioner and Bayram Aktepe, President of the Islamic Council of Victoria.  The dignatories later toured the Jewish Holocaust Centre with Survivor Guide Henri Korn.

Highlights included performances by Russian Sunday School LIDER students, young musicians and Kangarusskis representing the future of the community.  Gennerdi Vilkov, President of AFICC, brought soil from Babi Yar to the stage as a symbol of the link to the past.

Yevgeni Yevtushenko’s famous Babi Yar poem was movingly and dramatically read in Russian and English by Larry Fudim and Sara Bendevsky, with witness testimonies read by Tanya Schwarzman, Lev Mendes and Ella Apter.  The singing of Hatikvah was masterfully led by Alex Pokrishevsky.

Ms Huppert and Mr Vilkov spoke about the importance of remembering Babi Yar and other tragedies that befell the Jews of the Former Soviet Union.

Mr Vilkov stated, “We must never forget.  And it must never ever happen again.”

Ms Huppert stated, “Commemorating Babi Yar like this at the Jewish Holocaust Centre makes the terrifyingly large number of victims more personal.  It acts as a reminder of our shared strong democratic and multicultural values, where we stand against antisemitism and all forms of racism.”

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