Today President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine honored the victims of the Babyn Yar massacre of World War II during his visit to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
“Victims of the Holocaust were at least six million Jews. Among them - one and a half million, one in four from Ukraine," said President Zelensky and shared the story of his own family members who died in the Holocaust. "There were four brothers. Three of them, as well as their parents, wives, children, and all relatives, were shot by the German occupiers who invaded Ukraine. The fourth brother was at the front lines at the time. He went through World War II, contributed to the victory over Nazism and returned home four years later. Two years later he had a son, 31 years later - a grandson, and 40 years later his grandson became president of Ukraine. Now he is in front of you," the head of state said.
President Zelensky visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum alongside prominent leaders of major Jewish organizations in the United States.
"Over two days on 29-30 of September 1941, the Nazis killed nearly 34,000 people in Babyn Yar. Over the next two years, according to various estimates, up to 200,000 people. It is our undisputed duty to honor their memory. Unfortunately, for a long time, this was not obvious. In Soviet times, a sports complex and shooting range were built there. And since 1991, Babyn Yar has become not a place of memory, but a place of oblivion. We have been actively changing this for the last two years. At the end of 2020, I signed the Decree "On measures for the further development of the National Historical and Memorial Reserve 'Babyn Yar.'" This memorial complex is a cure for historical complexes."
"Conceptually new objects have already been created there, which tell the story of the tragedy in the modern language of modern technologies for modern generations,” shared President Zelensky.
Babyn Yar has become a powerful symbol of the 'Holocaust by Bullets,' the estimated 2.5 million Jews who were murdered near their homes in similar Nazi mass shootings across Eastern Europe, 1.5 million of them in Ukraine alone.
This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Babyn Yar massacre. Human rights activist Natan Sharansky, Chair of the supervisory board of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, stated, “Now is the time to right the historic wrong of Babyn Yar, for the sake of Ukraine, the Jewish communities and the world. The untold stories of these victims must be shared, and this year we will honor their memories to ensure history is not repeated.”
Commemorations will culminate in a formal event including global leaders on Oct. 6, 2021, at the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center in Kyiv, Ukraine.
About the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center
The Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center is a non-governmental charity whose purpose is to preserve and cultivate the memory of the Holocaust and the Babyn Yar tragedy in Ukraine by turning the Babyn Yar area into a place of remembrance. The Foundation's mission is to worthily honor the memory of the victims of the tragedy and to contribute to the humanization of society through preserving and studying the history of the Holocaust.