Kyiv residents walk along ‘route of death’ paying tribute to Babi Yar victims
The march in memory of the innocent people, who were shot down in the Babi Yar 74 years ago, was held today in Kyiv. About 34,000 Jews, Roma, Ukrainians and people of other nationalities were killed just because someone had identified them as “others.”
Holocaust remains not yet reconsidered world history phenomenon. Six million Jews were killed only in response to their birth. Ukraine has its own grave – the Babi Yar.
As the Human Rights Information Centre correspondent reports, the march was attended by representatives of the Jewish and Roma communities, righteous ones, witnesses to the events of Babi Yar, officials, students of Kyiv.
The procession moved from “Borychev Tik – Andrew’s Descent – Kontraktova Square” (the so-called “route of death”). Many Kyiv residents stopped and watched the procession in amazement. “Organizing this action, we want to draw the attention of Kyiv residents, for them to pay tribute to the victims…” said Yuri Lifanse, the action organizer, the head of the Saint Aegidius Community in Kyiv.
“Today we commemorate the Kyiv residents, who were shot down. They were the Jews, the Roma – the shot dead soul of Kyiv,” Yuri Lifanse said.
The Saint Aegidius Community and the movement “Youth for Peace” have been organizing this action for several years already. “Each time, inviting those who witnessed those terrible events, we are afraid to hear the sad news that they are no longer alive,” Yuri Lifanse adds.
Sofia Yarova is the righteous of Babi Yar, who saved the Jews during the war together with her mother. Delivering the speech, the 90-year-old woman addressed primarily the young people, “You have to fight against evil and think about the good. You should never look at the nationality of a person. The most important thing is a personality!” Sofia Yarova told the story of a young Jewish woman with two children. The woman disobeyed the requirements to come up with things to Babi Yar, and stayed at home. All in the yard were aware of her staying at home. Nobody ratted her out. Only one woman brought her to headquarters. Then a German soldier hit the woman in the face and said to frightened Jewish, “Go home, mommy …” “It was a good soul at the headquarters, not a fascist,” the righteous stressed.
The Babi Yar tragedy is also the personal tragedy of the Roma people. The Roma children were among those present at the march. Together with the other they drew a poster, saying “Peace is our dream.”
Olha Makar, the activist of the movement “Youth for Peace”, said, “I have much to say about the Roma. Their death at the Babi Yar did not become a lesson for anyone. So, the Roma are in dramatic situation until now… The Roma children joined the action as well.”
Indeed, many children participated in the march.
“The Nazis wanted to wipe out entire nations. We strive to convey our memory of the Babi Yar tragedy to you, young people, for our tragic past not to become your tragic future,” stressed Borys Zabarko, head of the All-Ukrainian Organization of Jews – Former Prisoners of Concentration Camps and Ghettos.
Another participant of the procession, Anna Bebykh, the righteous of the Babi Yar, says: “September 27, the posters saying that all Jews of the city must come to the Babi Yar were put all over the city. Moreover, those, who will accompany them, will be shot down on the scene. Our house was located at 1 Babi Yar Street. We were sitting in our garden when we heard shooting. Together with other children we rushed toward the sound. We saw how people were stripped naked, taking away their warm clothes and valuables, and just shot down… It was incredible scream. The children were snatched from their mothers and buried alive … I said we had to go home because we could be shot… “
The Babi Yar tragedy is not the pain of one nation or one generation. It’s the pain of the whole Ukraine, the organizers and participants of the action believe.
When the procession was moving, one of the antiques sellers cried out in a fit of temper, “It’s good they are commemorated! Ukraine has experienced so much grief. Even today …“
Photo by Iryna Vyrtosu, Human Rights Information Center