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September 12, 1969 - Image 52

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1969-09-12

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

'The Days of Awe' at Babi Yar

JTA Editor-In-Chief Emeritus

par, notices were posted all over' after the liberation of Kiev—I con-

Kiev ordering all Jews of the suited the information desk of In-
city to assemble with all mem- tourist, which is supposed to help
hers of their families, at 8 a.m. foreign visitors about how to get
Sept. 29, at a certain point on to Babi Yar. The girl in charge
Melnik Street. The notices said of the desk was evasive. When I
that the Jews were earmarked insisted on getting the information.
for "resettlement." They "advis. she said she herself did not know
ed each Jewish family to take how to get to Babi Yar and would
along a bundle containing its have to inquire from others in the
valuables, warm clothing, and office.
underwear, and food for three
"A lot of people in Kiev do not
know where Babi Yar is," she
The notices emphasized that said. "It is somewhere on the

(Copyright 1969, JTA, Inc.)

For Jews in Kiev; the capital of
Soviet Ukraine, the two days pre-
ceding Yom Kippur are the most
sacred. They are "The Babi Yar
Two days before Yom Kippur in
1941—on Sept. 29 and 30—the Ger
man Army, having occupied the
city only 10 days earlier, drove
the Jews to the Babi Yar ravine at
the outskirts of the city and mow-
ed them down. The massacre end
ed on Yom Kippur eve, when Jews
throughout the world recited Kol
Nidre in the synagogues.
An official Nazi report of the
massacre sent to Col. Reinard Hey-
drich. deputy chief of the Gestapo.
said that 33,771 Jews were executed
at the ravine during the two days
of mass killing, but the number
was much larger. Later, about
15.000 more Jews were killed.
The Germans entered Kiev on
Sept. 19, three days before Rosh
Hashana. A few days after their
arrival a tremendous explosion
rocked the Continental Hotel where
the German military command
made its headquarters. The explo-
sion was caused by powerful time
bombs placed by the Red Army
prior to its retreat from the city.
It touched off hidden land mines in
the area and set many buildings
afire. So sweeping was the blaze
that hundreds of German soldiers
were killed while fighting it.
The German occupation author-
ities decided to blame the Jews
for this catastrophe. On Sept. 26,
three days after Rosh Ilashana
and four days before Yom Kip-

those who did not appear at the outskirts of the city."
"But you certainly know that
given time and place for "resettle-
ment" would be shot when dis- one of your great poets, Yevgeni
covered later. The "resettlement" Yevtushenko. has immortalized the
assertion was presented in a way place with the famous epic poem
which made the Jews think it would- Babi Yar which was translated into
be better to be resettled to do many languages throughout the

labor than to be shot for non-coot- world?"
pliance with the German order.
She knew about Yevtushenko's
Tens of thousands of Jews trekked
poem. And so do all the young
with their bundles from all parts
people in Kiev. Yevtushenko was .
of the city and appeared early in
criticized by Soviet authorities
the morning. many of them carry-
for writing this poem honoring
ing children in their arms.
the memory of the Jews who
perished. A Ukrainian writer in
The streets around the gathering
the Rusisan language, he is the
place were surrounded by units
most popular Soviet poet among
from the "Einsatzgruppen" — the
the student youth in the Ukraine
Nazi murder commandos who spe-
as he is the most popular poet
cialized in mass killing of Jews.
among the youth in all of the
The arriving Jews were marched

in groups, past the Jewish ceme-
tery at the outer city limits, to the
Babi Yar site: they were ordered
to leave their bundles and were

Soviet Union. Ilis poem is con-
sidered a memorial to the Jew.
ish victims of Babi Yar. After it

later driven naked into the ravine.
During the two days of the
terror, the shooting of the vie-
tims went on from dawn till dark.
It was later reported that the

was published, Intourist could no
longer tell foreign visitors that
nobody knew anything about
Babi Yar as officials of Intour-
ist claimed before the poem all-

The Intourist girl requested that
Nazis who did the shooting cared
nothing whether some of their I return in about an hour if I want-

victims • were still alive in the ed to get information about how to
ravine. get to Babi Yar. and it became
In the evening, the Germans obvious to me that she was obliged

stopped the shooting, herding the to report my request to some high-
still living Jews in empty stables er officers.
But something quite unexpected
for the night• resuming the ester-
happened. A young man who was
mination the next morning.
The murder rate of the two-day watching me in the lobby arguing

New Year Greetings


1221 Twelfth St.

massacre exceeded even that of with the girl approached me in
the mass killing of Jews in the gas very fluent English after I left the

Detroit, Mich.

ovens of the most notoribus Nazi desk.

"You want to go to Babi Yar?
death camps of Auschwitz and
*********************** Treblinka in Poland. Five months Come, I'll take you. I know where
after the executions, the March the place is. You will not have to
Holiday Greetings
*: thaw released gases from thou- pay me anything. All you will have

sands of bodies in the ravine with to pay is the fare to the taxi

explosions which threw up columns driver."
I was taken aback by this sud
of the earth covering the victims.
Now, between Rosh Hashana and den offer. "Are you an Intourist
Yom Kippur. thousands of Jews in guide?"
VE 8.6000,1 . Kiev stream to Babi Yar every
"No," he replied smilingly. "I
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alive. The Babi Yar tragedy will forgotten. There should be no 'hush-
remain with them for the rest of hush' about it. The more people
their lives. They observe the who see Babi Yar. the longer the
"anniversary" of the massacre world will remember the Nazi
by coming to Babi Yar from all atrocities."
"But you don't look Jewish to
parts of the city.
Babi Yar is also visited by me," I said and implied that I was
Jews from foreign countries who . surprised by his offer.
come to Kiev as tourists. How- , "I am half-Jewish," he said with
ever, the local Intourist office a wide smile. "And it makes no
discourages foreigners from visit- difference to me, or to my par-
ing Babi Tar. Soviet authorities, ents, whether I am Jewish or not.
central and local, are not eager I am by my upbringing and na-




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Happy New Year

La sta r

to present the massacre as a tionality a Ukrainian. But my
Jewish tragedy. To get to Babi mother is Jewish. She was not in
Yar without the aid of Intourist Kiev when the Germans killed the
is not an easy matter. Not all Jews. I wasn't even born then.

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all the way until we reached the
The great act of faith is when
assembly site. Here . he told the a man decides that he is not God.
driver to stop.
—Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
"Here," my young volunteer said
"the Jews from all parts of the city
Sincere Best Wishes
were ordered to appear with fond
0-n the New Year
for three days. They were told that

they would be sent from here to
work and would be resettled in new
places. The Jews believed it. They
assembled here on time, as order
ed. From here they were marched
in groups to their death to Babi



15410 - 30

private taxis know the road. But we know what took place at
In the Hotel Dnipro—the finest Babi Yar, and so does almost
hotel in the city, which was built every student in the university."

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The taxi driver I hired to take us
to Babi Yar told me in advance
that he did not know where the
place was located or how to get
there. However the student told
him not to worry. He directed him

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He went into details of the


event, and I could see that the
taxi driver, a non-Jew, was as
deeply interested as I in what the


young student related. The driver
probably never heard these de-
tails before, since the Soviet
press never reported the Babi
Yar case in details. We climbed

WA 4-1266

back into the taxi and the driver
showed a special eagerness to
reach Babi Yar.
A wooded area has been devel-

oped over the ravine with rows and
rows of young trees planted to cov-
er the ground which was soaked
with the blood of so many thou-
sands. Instead of erecting a huge
granite memorial tomb and make
the place a shrine, the Soviet au-
thorities chose to cover up one of
the greatest of the Nazi war crimes
by converting Babi Yar into a de-
velopment area and giving it an
appearance of serenity and inno-
Whether a decent monument will
ever be erected on the Babi Yar
grounds or not. it is clear that
neither the Soviet authorities in the
Ukraine nor the central government
in Moscow have any interest in
commemorating the tens of thou-
sands of massacred Jews even
though they were killed by the
The Jewish mass grave may be
covered up with young trees and
new apartment buildings, but Kiev
Jews will never forget the Babi
Yar tragedy. Nor will Jews through-
out the world. And who knows?
Just as the Jews in all the free
countries of the world now recite
each year a special prayer at the'
Passover seder for the martyrs of
the Warsaw Ghetto, they may also
compose and recite a special pray-
er on Yom Kippur for the martyrs
of Babi Yar.
This would perhaps be the best
monument Jews can erect for the




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year to lay flowers in memory of am a university student. I over- thousands and thousands of Jews
their fathers, mothers, wives and heard your discussion with the In. killed in the unforgettable ravine
children who were so brutally kill- tourist girl and I decided that you and in the ravines . of other cities in
ed. The majority of those paying needed my help. The girl was try- the Soviet Union.
their annual commemoration visit ing to discourage you from visit-
We think we believe, but is our I
were in the Red Army on the war ing Babi Yar and will probably -
front fighting the German invaders find a new excuse to discourage 'aith really awake, or is it lying ' I
when Kiev was occupied by Hit- you. But I want to encourage you. bed-ridden in some dormitory of i
lerites. I have a personal interest in doing our souls? — W. R. Inge.
They returned home after the it. Some of my relatives were mas-
liberation of Kiev but found none sacred in Babi Yar. and I think
of the members of their families that this massacre should not be



Friday, September 12, 1969

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Best Wishes on
the New Year

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To All Our Jewish Friends

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