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September 29, 2020 3:18 pm

Babi Yar Massacres Remembered in Ukrainian Capital of Kyiv, 79 Years Later

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Rabbis stand near an installation commemorating the victims of Babi Yar, one of the biggest single massacres of Jews during the Nazi Holocaust, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sept. 29, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Gleb Garanich.

The president of the Ukraine, ministers of his government, the country’s chief rabbi and the head of a top global Jewish organization on Tuesday marked the 79th anniversary of the slaughter of over 30,000 Jews at Babi Yar by the Nazis.

In one of the earliest mass killings of the Holocaust, after occupying the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv in September 1941, a German SS unit ordered all the city’s Jews to gather at a collection point and then took them to the Babi Yar ravine.

Using machine guns, SS troops and Ukrainian police murdered over 33,700 Jews and buried them in the ravine.

Following the massacre of the Kyiv Jews, the site was used several more times by the Nazis to commit mass killings of political dissidents, the mentally ill, Ukrainian cultural figures, prisoners of war and Roma civilians.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky laid flowers at a monument to the massacre on Tuesday, saying, “Executed in Babi Yar are thousands of destroyed human fates. Thousands of families that have been exterminated. Thousands of fearful children’s eyes that do not understand that they are being led to death.”

“These are thousands of reminders to humanity of xenophobia, racism, and intolerance,” he continued. “And thousands of pieces of evidence that, contrary to science, show that not all people have a heart.”

“We bow our heads to all the victims of Babi Yar,” Zalensky said. “And we have no right to forget these terrible crimes. Never again.”

Rabbi Meir Stambler, chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Ukraine, and Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, also attended the ceremony.

After the event, Lauder — who is a member of the Supervisory Board of the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial Center — signed a Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation with Ukraine’s minister of culture and information policy, Oleksandr Tkachenko.

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