Babi Yar Memorial Center inaugurated

The presidents of Ukraine, Israel and Germany inaugurated a memorial center commemorating the victims of the the Babi Yar massacre, 80 years after one of the most infamous Nazi mass slaughters of the Holocaust.

About 34,000 Jews were killed within 48 hours in Babi Yar, a ravine in Kyiv by SS and local collaborators.

“Babi Yar is the biggest mass grave of the Holocaust … the most quickly filled mass grave,” said Natan Sharansky, the chairman of the supervisory board of the Babi Yar Holocaust memorial center.

“It’s hard to breathe at this place — thousands of children took their last breath here,” Zelenskyy said. “It’s hard to stand here — thousands of bullets knocked people down here in Babi Yar. The earth was trembling from the convulsions of people who were still alive and trying to get out.”

Herzog began his speech with a prayer for the victims, saying that “there was nobody to recite the Yizkor prayer for them. Commemoration and remembrance are vital for the whole of humanity, against evil, cruelty, and apathy,” he said.

Speaking at the ceremony, German President Steinmeier said that the fight against anti-Semitism “must go on.”

“It pains me and makes me angry that antisemitism is also growing stronger again in Germany — especially in Germany,” he said. “The evil spirits of the past are showing themselves today in a new guise.”

Zelenskyy, Herzog and Steinmeier inaugurated a memorial center, still under construction, dedicated to the stories of Eastern European Jews who were killed and buried in mass graves during the Holocaust. Of the 2.5 million Jews in that region, 1.5 million died in Ukraine alone.

The Babi Yar Holocaust memorial center also revealed the initial 159 names of hundreds of Nazi troops who took part in the Babi Yar massacre on Sept. 29-30, 1941, when 33,771 Jews were murdered.

“Despite confessions, evidence and testimonies being submitted as late as the 1960s by some of the Nazi soldiers who carried out the murders, only a few of those involved ever faced justice for their heinous crimes,” it said.

“They were between 20 and 60 years old,” the memorial center said. “They were educated and uneducated, they included engineers and teachers, drivers and salespeople. Some were married and some were not. The vast majority of them returned to live a normal life after the war. They testified at trial and were found not guilty, except for very few commanders, not the soldiers who carried out the horrific massacre.”


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