80 YEARS AFTER BABYN YAR MASSACRE: TOOLS TO KEEP THE MEMORY ALIVE, LEARN THE LESSONS

March 5, 2022

For two days, September 29 and 30, 1941, 33,771 people were exterminated. More than thirty thousand of them were Jews.

A zoom press conference was dedicated on Tuesday to the 80th anniversary of the Babyn Yar massacre ahead of an event “Lessons from Babyn Yar: History, Memory and Legacy” which is jointly organised by the House of European History in Brussels and the Kiev-based Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center (BYHMC).

The conference, organized in cooperation with the European Jewish Asociation, discussed lessons 80 years later, as well as unveiling new and unique tools to keep the lessons, history and memory alive, including actually putting faces and names to those murdered for the first time.

Among the speakers, French Father Patrick Desbois, founder of Yahad-In Unum and head of the scholarly council of BYHMC, stressed that Babi Yar was a criminal site where the genocide of the Jewish people took place in the center of a large city in a large country (Kiev, today Ukraine).

‘’The locals willingly aided the young fascists. The gunmen were given sandwiches and tea with little vodka in it as the mass executions lasted many hours,’’ he noted.

Father Patrick asked a practical question: where did the tons of items and valuables taken from the Jews before their execution go? ‘’It would seem that everything should be documented, but it is easier to find detailed evidence and statistics of the shootings than information about the confiscated property of those killed. It was as if the Germans were embarrassed to write about such facts.’’

He added, ‘’For me, this is another terrible evidence of the Babi Yar tragedy: human life is reduced to zero. It is only the result of statistics, nothing more. Even more terrible is that the USSR, on whose territory the tragedy took place, tried to hide the truth about Babyn Yar for a long time. Nevertheless, our generation has a goal: to find the hidden facts and restore the history of this bloody genocide.’’

“I visited Raka in Syria where there was a mass grave. Journalists came, journalists went. Perhaps in 80 years there can be a debate about what is a ‘fitting’ memorial. What is important is keeping the memory and lessons alive,’’ stressed Father Desbois.

One of the panelists, Marek Siwiec, Director of European Affairs at BYHMC, provided information about many ongoing projects, each of which can contribute to the restoration of the truth about Babyn Yar.

Colossal work has been done: out of more than 33,000 dead, 28,428 names have been identified, and essential family and personal facts have been restored. All these invaluable findings became the basis of a vast program titled “Project Names.”

‘’It brought us closer to the real life of those who were shot at Babi Yar. They say that the death of one person is a tragedy, but the death of tens of thousands is a statistic,’’ said Siwiec, who is a former member of the European Parliament.

‘’Project Names’’ allows us to turn dry statistics into pain for everyone who was left in that terrible place, who did not live, who did not love, who did not leave their continuation on earth,’’ he added.

Another project mentioned by Siwiec, “Red Dot” (Red Dot Remembrance), is unique: more than 3,000 people provided information about the WWII war crimes. This app has so far registered 2,850 sites across of Europe of the ‘Holocaust by bullets’ which enables users to see and learn what took place wherever they are.

‘’These are mass extermination sites, eyewitness accounts, evidence supported by documents, which were kept with German punctuality and pedantry throughout the war,’’ explained Siwiec.

On the Babyn Yar massacre anniversary date of 29th September, 15,000 schools in Ukraine will participate in a “lessons of the Holocaust Day”.

‘’The key word underpinning all of our activities is education. It is only through education that the tragic disasters of the past can never be repeated,” said Siwiec.

Marek Rutka, a member of the Sejm, the Polish parliament, and chairman of the parliamentary group for the commemoration of the crimes at Babyn Yar and for a Europe free from genocide and hatred, explained that members of his political party regularly visit the sites of the Shoah executions. ‘’They see heartfelt tragedies lead to politically literate conclusions about the need to talk about the Shoah on a European scale. There is no genocide without the tolerance of neighboring countries. These words can be taken as a motto for the whole debate.’’

Anton Schneerson, who contributed this article for European Jewish Press, is a Ukrainian Jew living in Germany. The Jewish community of his hometown, Dnipro, managed to build one of the world’s most prominent Holocaust museum that deeply covers the Babyn Yar tragedy.

Additional Articles

It was a Boiling Hot Sauna! - Chief Rabbi Jacobs

It was a boiling hot sauna!
This week we are in the days of Selichot, days of preparation for the Jamiem Noraim, the Days of awe, preceding the festival of the Jewish New Year.
Awe is of great importance, because if there is a lack of ‘awe’, a society just goes in the wrong direction. This thought came to my mind when I was present in Westerbork, former Dutch deportationcamp to welcome the cyclists who had participated in “Back to Westerbork”. Tears welled up in my eyes. All young people who had made the journey from Auschwitz to Westerbork, én route had visited the various concentration camps, other places of horror and were now back in Westerbork. Awe! Lack of awe can lead to anarchy. But submitting to a wrong authority can lead to what happened in WWII. Eighty percent of my family ended up in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and Sobibor via Westerbork! And now some 70 young people were cycling there, giving a stern warning about the dangers of submission to a wrong authority. Young people from Germany, the Netherlands and Poland. To my right a German Minister, to my left the ambassador of Poland and the King’s Commissioner in the province of Drenthe was also emphatically present, Mrs Jetta Klijnsma. What a powerful woman! I was delighted and grateful that my speech and the sounds of the shofar were clearly heard and penetrated. As I sit here typing, I feel a lump in my throat. I would like to embrace all those cyclists with gratitude for their great performance and especially for the hard demonstration. Yes, every morning in these days before the Awe-inspiring days of Jewish New Year I get up earlier to say extra prayers, but this gathering was all encouragement and awe-inspiring. A hot shower! I also felt that warm shower this morning in Ede where a meeting was organized by a group of faithful Christians.
In October 2020, representatives of various denominations at the Israeli embassy in The Hague had pleaded guilty for the churches’ negligence towards Jews before, during and after World War II. Now that antisemitism is unfortunately on the rise again, the right question has arisen as to what attitude the churches will adopt at the beginning of the 21st century. Therefore, representatives of churches organized an appeal meeting to speak on this subject. Speakers included Israel’s ambassador, Z.E.N. Gilon and my person. It was clear that those present are pro-Israel. But it also became clear, and I myself have expressed this very emphatically, that the love for Israel is diminishing among the church youth. This concerns me, a concern shared by those in attendance. And yet the symposium was a hot shower, so hot shower number two. I experienced the third shower on Urk, a former island, which is know for its love and support for Israel. In the Town Hall, the ambassador of Israel, two representatives of Christians for Israel and the undersigned, were received by the mayor and his aldermen. Why were we at the Town Hall? From 14:00 to 22:00 there was a magnificent afternoon and evening for ‘The entrepreneurship platform of Christians for Israel’ on Urk.  Of course the ambassador was present again, whom I met there for the third time that day. In the afternoon, the 180 attendees were split in two. Group one was given a tour of the fishing company DaySeaDay and group two was shown around the alleys of Urk. More than €140,000 was raised that evening for the construction of a youth center in Jerusalem. What warmth, what friendship, what enthusiasm and what a honor and how unique that I, as Chief Rabbi, could be a part of such a gathering. Music, a Zoom connection with Israel, a dinner (for Blouma and for me kosher of course) and inspiring speeches. But if you expect me to call this evening the third hot shower, you are wrong! It was not a hot shower, but a boiling hot sauna!


During the corona time, Chief Rabbi Jacobs keeps a diary for the Jewish Cultural
Quarter. NIW publishes these special documents on https://niw.nl/category/dagboek/

Jewish group seeks to ban Israeli auction of Nazi memorabilia

A prominent European Jewish group on is demanding for Israel to ban an auction offering Nazi memorabilia, which is set to take place in the country.
The European Jewish Association filed a cease and desist letter on Wednesday against the Israeli auction house “Pentagon,” which is offering several Holocaust-related items for sale to the highest bidder.

זוג גלויות נאציות שעומדות למכירה, החל מ-50 דולר

Nazi postcards from World War II on sale at the auction
(Photo: Bidspirit)
The auction includes items such as a Jewish passport, Nazi leaflets, Nazi stamps, as well as an Austrian Nazi cigarette box with a relief of an eagle emblem and a swastika, with prices ranging from dozens to hundreds of shekels.
Pentagon’s controversial auction comes weeks after Israel’s court suspended an unrelated auction of a partial tattoo kit billed as having been used on inmates at the Auschwitz death camp, following outcry from Holocaust survivors.
“The State of Israel must enact a law against auctions of Nazi memorabilia,” wrote the head of the EJA, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, in his appeal to both the Justice Ministry and Yad Vashem.
“My association is working with heads of state, ministers and senior members of parliament in EU countries, in order to prevent the cultivation of the Nazi heritage by putting such despicable items for sale at a high price.

סרט בד של עובד במחנה הריכוז דכאו הועמד למכירה

A canvas band of a Dachau concentration camp employee on sale at the auction
(Photo: Bidspirit)
“But shamefully, it seems that in the Jewish state of Israel, there are those who do not mind selling these items to the highest bidder,” wrote Margolin.
He further suggested a legislative outline to “end the despicable phenomenon of making money, while belittling the memory of the Holocaust.”

גלויה נדירה של הצורר אדולף היטלר, החל מ-50 דולר

Postcard with Adolf Hitler on it
(Photo: Bidspirit)
The Justice Ministry has yet to provide a response to the EJA’s appeal.

EJA Meeting with PM of of Croatia

Despite the hectic EU Summit schedule, the EJA was honoured that the Prime Minister of Croatia, His Excelency Mr Andrey Plenkovic, took the time to meet today with a delegation from the European Jewish Associa
The wide-ranging meeting covered a lot of ground, including the eventual adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism by Croatia, security concerns for the community in Zagreb, a briefing on the Zagreb opening of the Chesed centre for the loaning of medical equipment to all in need, an initiative to provide holocaust education via gentle and innovative means to younger schoolchildren as well as a fruitful discussion regarding involvement to the EJA’s Delegation to Auschwitz in November.
The EJA thanks Prime Minister Plenkovic for the care and attention he and his government shows to Jews in Croatia and across Europe, and notes that Jews feel safe and secure living and visiting the Country.

Czech Interior Ministry, Prague City Hall scrap deals with publisher of Third Reich Nazi calendar

The Czech Interior Ministry has cancelled a storage space rental contract with the Naše vojsko publishing house
Prague, May 26 (CTK) – The Czech Interior Ministry has abrogated its storage space rent contract with the Naše vojsko publishing house that issued a calendar with portraits of the Third Reich protagonists, Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček told CTK after meeting Israeli ambassador Daniel Meron today.
Such items have no place in Czech shops, he said.
The publisher faces a criminal complaint by Michal Klima, the head of the Holocaust Victims Foundation, and another one is being prepared by the Czech Jewish Communities’ Federation (FZO).
FZO chairman Petr Papoušek said the FZO considers not only the calendar’s appearance but also its graphic design a step promoting Nazism and adoring its leaders who were Nazi war criminals.
Petříček (Social Democrats, CSSD) said that Meron showed interest in the case at their talks today.
“I told him that a criminal complaint has already been filed and that the Interior Ministry has terminated its contract for renting storage premises to the publisher. Such items have nothing to do among the Czech shops’ offer. They downplay the horrors of the Nazi regime and especially for Israel it must be sad to see them,” Petříček wrote to CTK.
Apart from Meron, the calendar was previously also criticized by the German ambassador to the Czech Republic.
The Denik N daily recently found out that the Interior Ministry has rented storage premises to the publisher via its subordinate organisation. It has abrogated the contract as of June 30, Denik N wrote this morning, citing Interior Minister Jan Hamáček (CSSD).
A contract with Naše vojsko has also been terminated by the Prague City Hall, which rented shopping space to it.
The city abrogated the contract by end-April, and the publisher has six months to leave the premises.
“We do not want our premises to host entrepreneurs whose business is definitely beyond the limit in terms of ethic,” Prague Councillor Jan Chabr (TOP 09) wrote to CTK.
Naše vojsko director Emerich Drtina said at the time that as a publisher he does not offer the items for sale with the aim of propaganda but in order to make profit.
The article was posted on the expatsCZ 

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