Thursday, May 06, 2010

Kiev Tales: Babi Yar

Babi Yar was the single biggest massacre of the Holocaust. On two days in late-September 1941, over thirty-three thousand of Kiev's Jewish inhabitants were marched to the ravine, stripped and beaten, then forced to lie on top of layers of dead bodies before being machine-gunned in the back of the head. The corpes were doused in petrol and burnt.

"Kikes of the city of Kiev and vicinity! On Monday, September 29, you are to appear by 08:00 a.m. with your possessions, money, documents, valuables, and warm clothing at Dorogozhitskaya Street, next to the Jewish cemetery. Failure to appear is punishable by death." - Order posted in September 1941.

In the months that followed more than a hundred thousand others were murdered in the same place, many of them Jews. A concentration camp was located nearby. In 1943, before retreating, the Nazis used six weeks and three hundred chained prisoners in an attempt to conceal the evidence of their crimes.

It was ten-minute walk north from the station to the Menorah memorial, erected in 1991 on the spot where the massacres took place. There was a rose on one of the steps and a couple of people swigging vodka in the bushes behind. People walked past with dogs and barbecue skewers, a football training session started on a pitch down below. "Can you take a photo of me here?" a girl asked her boyfriend. "Why?" he replied, "It's only for the Jews."

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