Babi Yar remembered

September 28, 2017 by J-Wire Staff
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Friday marks the 76th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre, one of the darkest chapters in the annals of human barbarism.

Alex Ryvchin

On the morning of 29 September, 1941 the Jews of Kiev were forced to assemble at a ravine on the northern outskirts of the city. Over the next two days, 33,771 Jews were murdered there by the Nazis and their Ukrainian collaborators in what was the largest single massacre of Jews during the Holocaust.

Babi Yar astounds for the dizzying speed with which the city’s Jews, fully integrated with their ethnic Ukrainian neighbours, were plucked from an ordinary urban existence to the hell of that ravine, and for the sadistic enthusiasm with which the operation was carried out.

When we remember Babi Yar we remember all the Jews massacred throughout the vast lands of the former Soviet Union. Over 1.3 million Jews were killed in the Former Soviet Union in such massacres. Every town, every village and every city has its own ravines and mass graves and killing fields. Its own Babi Yar.

The Executive Council of Council Jewry is proud to have led the commemoration of this often overlooked chapter of the Holocaust. In 2014, the ECAJ together with communal partners, arranged for the erection of a permanent monument in Sydney to honour the victims of the massacre. The monument was unveiled by Prime Minister Turnbull together with the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Councillor Sally Betts and state and federal parliamentarians.

In 2016, the ECAJ’s public affairs director, Alex Ryvchin represented the Australian Jewish community at a landmark commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the massacre which was attended by the Ukrainian President, the President of the European Council, the President of Germany, and other world leaders.

Earlier this month, the ECAJ together with our Victorian constituent, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, supported a commemorative performance of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Babi Yar symphony at Melbourne’s Hamer Hall. Our public affairs director delivered the keynote address on the history and enduring significance of the massacre.

On this day, we remember the victims of the massacre and the unimaginable terror and suffering they endured. We pray for their souls and for all of the victims of the Holocaust. We vow to continue our work to commemorate and to educate so that their memories will never be forgotten.


One Response to “Babi Yar remembered”
  1. Liat Kirby says:

    Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s famous poem, ‘Babi Yar’, is a moving and fine contribution to the acknowledgement of this barbarous event. He was not Jewish, however his heart and soul can be felt in the words he wrote for the Jews who died and the dark shame it cast on the area itself and on the perpetrators. He died a few months ago and leaves ‘Babi Yar’ behind as a gift that will continue to live on, ensuring remembrance.

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