Ryvchin in Kiev for Babi Yar

October 7, 2016 by J-Wire Staff
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The ECAJ’s Alex Ryvchin joined with heads of state and representatives of Jewish communities from around the world to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre in Kiev, Ukraine last week. 


Alex Ryvchin

The main ceremony took place on the site of the massacre and was addressed by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, German President Joachim Gauck, The US Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker (on behalf of President Obama), the Executive Director of the World Jewish Congress, Robert Singer, and French intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy (on behalf of French Hollande).

President Poroshenko’s address included a landmark admission that some Ukrainians collaborated with the Nazis in the massacre while also noting the Ukrainian righteous among the nations who sheltered Jews during the Holocaust.

Babi Yar

Babi Yar

Ryvchin, who orchestrated the erection of a monument in Sydney in 2014 to honour the victims of the Babi Yar massacre, also attended an official reception hosted by the Ukrainian President and First Lady and a forum on Holocaust revisionism and commemoration in eastern Europe, which was addressed by, among others, former Polish Former Minister Adam Daniel Rotfield. Rotfield was among over a hundred Jewish children sheltered from the Nazis by the revered Ukrainian cleric, Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky.

“To return to the city of my birth and join with world leaders in marking a tragedy that is very close to my heart, had immense meaning.” Ryvchin said. “It was also an opportunity to deepen my knowledge of the massacre. Relatively little is known of the slaughter of the Jews in the former Soviet Union; how it was carried out, and who bears responsibility. The land is full of neglected mass graves and killing fields like Babi Yar. Few communities remain. Few memorials stand. So it is vital that we learn and educate and understand the full depth of suffering that our people endured during the Holocaust.”

The ECAJ together with the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, the Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe and other partners will hold a special commemoration to honour the victims of the massacre and to celebrate the survival and triumph of Soviet Jewry, in Sydney on 20 November.

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