AUSTRALIAN Jews must continue talking about the horrors of the Babi Yar massacre, and its 34,000 victims, “until the world remembers those wretched, innocent souls with us”.
That was the message from Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Alex Ryvchin this week on the 79th anniversary of the mass murders.
On September 29-30, 1941, approximately 33,771 men, women and children were massacred by the Nazis and their Ukrainian collaborators in a ravine on the northern edge of Kiev.
Despite the atrocities, “For many years, no one spoke about Babi Yar,” said Ryvchin, whose family home was just a block away from the site.
Today is the anniversary date of the beginning of the Babi Yar massacre in which the Jews of Kiev (33,771 men, women and…
“The Holocaust was remembered largely through the prism of Auschwitz, the slaughterhouse of a million Jews and the epitome of industrialised death. Kristallnacht, the other major focus of Holocaust commemoration represented the beginning of the end.
“But what happened in a ravine on the northern edge of Kiev, over two days in September 1941, was left unspoken, unremembered,” he told The AJN.
Lamenting “the dizzying speed with which normal people were plucked from their ordinary lives and dropped into pure horror”, Ryvchin said, “Babi Yar is the millions of Jews who were simply stuffed in barns and set alight or hunted by their neighbours and shot in forest pits or buried alive in trenches.
“While no one spoke about Babi Yar, the people of Kiev knew. And in every town and city and village across the Soviet Union, the locals knew about their own Babi Yars.”
Ryvchin, who organised a plaque in Sydney in 2014 in recognition of the suffering of Soviet Jewry, called on the community to “pierce the silence” by speaking out and remembering.