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29 Sep. 2023

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The Babyn Yar tragedy: how it happened and why it is so important to remember and honor the memory of the victims

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The Babyn Yar tragedy: how it happened and why it is so important to remember and honor the memory of the victims

On September 29, Ukraine commemorates the victims of Babyn Yar, where German troops shot more than 100,000 people during World War II. Find out how the Nazis started the massacres and how ruthless they were

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Babyn Yar is a name that evokes horror and sorrow for anyone familiar with the history of the Holocaust. It was one of the most horrific events during the Second World War, when thousands of innocent people were brutally murdered in the heart of Kyiv. Today, exactly 82 years after the events at Babyn Yar, it is important to remember and honor the memory of the victims. How it all happened and why it is so important for our world and future generations.


Chronology


Babyn Yar is located in the northwestern part of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. In early September 1941, German troops captured the city, and one of the darkest chapters in the history of the Holocaust began. 


At the end of the same month, notices appeared on house walls, fences, and poles stating that all Jews in Kyiv and its environs should come to the corner of Melnykova and Degtyarivska streets on September 29 at 8 a.m. 


"Whoever of the Jews fails to fulfill this order and is found elsewhere will be shot," the announcement read.


The first execution in Babyn Yar took place on September 27, 1941, when the Nazis killed 752 patients of the Pavlov Psychiatric Hospital. Pavlov Psychiatric Hospital, located near the ravine.


On September 29, German soldiers began massacres. 


After that, for 5 days in a row, Hitler's troops continued the mass genocide of Ukrainians. According to German documents, 33,000 Jews were killed in the first two days of mass shootings. In total, the Nazis killed more than 100,000 people in Babyn Yar, including Jews, Roma, Ukrainian nationalists, and Soviet soldiers.


The Germans had no limits to the cruelty of the killings. During the executions, Nazi troops did not look at the age of the people. The youngest victim was 3 days old, and the oldest was 103 years old.


Why is it so important to remember the tragedy?


First of all, remembering Babyn Yar means remembering what hatred, prejudice, and bigotry can lead to. It is a reminder that even in developed societies, where respect for human rights is considered the highest value, disasters can happen if we do not remain vigilant and resist hatred.


The memory of Babyn Yar also reminds us of the importance of protecting human rights and the inadmissibility of discrimination based on race, religion or nationality. This horrific experience should encourage us to fight for justice and equality. The memory of this tragedy should also unite the world in the fight against xenophobia and hatred.




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What events are dedicated to September 29?


Every year on this day, Ukrainians and the top leadership of the state honor the memory of the victims of Babyn Yar. People go to the tract to lay flowers and lamps at the monument to the victims of this tragedy.


In 2023, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited Babyn Yar to honor the memory of the innocent people who were killed by the German killing machine.


"82 years ago... On September 29, 1941, the Nazis began mass shootings of Jews at Babyn Yar in Kyiv. About 34 thousand people were killed in a few days... Adults, children. Whole families. Women, men. The evil did not discriminate whom to destroy. No matter how many years pass, humanity will remember the lives that Nazism took. And it will always remember that that evil was punished. Never again! For Ukraine, these words matter. And they will," the Ukrainian leader said, standing on the ground soaked in tears and bitterness.


The Babyn Yar tragedy is a lesson that should not be forgotten. This terrible chapter of history reminds us of what hatred and bigotry can lead to. Honoring the victims and preserving the memory of Babyn Yar is our duty to past and future generations. We hope that the knowledge of this history and the lessons we learn from it will help prevent similar horrors in the future and contribute to a more just and tolerant world.



Photo: Vecherniy Kyiv




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