Ukraine plans mu­seum to com­mem­o­rate Babi Yar

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY JULIE MASIS

A MU­SEUM will be built in Ukraine next year to mark the 75th an­niver­sary of one of the big­gest sin­gle Holo­caust mas­sacres, the mayor of the Ukrainian cap­i­tal an­nounced last week.

“Since we understand that the world is very frag­ile, we must trans­fer to fu­ture gen­er­a­tions the mem­ory of the mis­takes of hu­man­ity that must never, un­der any cir­cum­stances, be re­peated,” said the Mayor of Kiev, Vi­tali Kl­itschko, whose grand­mother was Jewish.

“One of the big­gest com­po­nents of that is the cre­ation of a mu­seum.”

More than 33,000 Jewish res­i­dents of Kiev were gunned down at the Babi Yar ravine in two days at the end of Septem­ber 1941.

Babi Yar was also the ex­e­cu­tion site of Soviet pris­on­ers of war, pa­tients from the lo­cal psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tal, Chris­tian ortho­dox priests, and thou­sands of gyp­sies. Al­to­gether, it is es­ti­mated that there were 100,000 vic­tims.

The mu­seum, to be lo­cated at the Babi Yar site, will cover an area of 5,000 sq m, and will in­clude a re­search in­sti­tute. There will also be a mem­ory square, lo­cated on the site of an old Jewish cem- etery that was de­stroyed by the Nazis in 1941, an ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre and a wall of sculp­tures of Jewish vic­tims, said Arkadiy Monastyrskiy, the pres­i­dent of Ukraine’s Jewish Fund.

A Jewish businessman con­trib­uted $10m to­wards the con­struc­tion of the mu­seum, ac­cord­ing to Mr Monastyrskiy. How­ever, more donors are needed be­cause the to­tal cost of the project is es­ti­mated at $30m-$40m, he said.

The area known as Babi Yar is cur­rently a large, wooded park near a sub­way sta­tion, a pop­u­lar place for par­ents tak­ing an af­ter­noon stroll with chil­dren.

There are at least three sculp­tures in the park — a meno­rah, a group of dolls with bro­ken heads (to rep­re­sent child vic­tims), and a huge Soviet-era work show­ing peo­ple buried on top of peo­ple — but many lo­cals do not know why the mon­u­ments are there.

The mon­u­ments have been van­dalised six times in the last year alone — some­one even set tyres on fire near the meno­rah. “It would have melted if the fire hadn’t been ex­tin­guished, be­cause it’s made from bronze,” Mr Monastyrskiy said. All the mon­u­ments at Babi Yar will be re­paired for the 75th an­niver­sary of the mas­sacre in Septem­ber, Mr Monastyrskiy

said.

PHOTO: AP

A man dec­o­rates the Soviet-era me­mo­rial at Babi Yar

One of the me­mo­rial sculp­tures

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