September 29 — Remembrance Day of the Babyn Yar Victims
55 meters long, 3 meters wide, 2.5 meters deep — these are the dimensions of the mass grave at Babyn Yar, described in 1947 at the Nuremberg trial by the direct supervisor of the executions, SS Standartenführer Paul Blobel.
The Germans meticulously documented each of their actions, so it is reliably known that on September 29, 1941, 22,000 people were shot by 6:00 PM, and the rest who still waited for their turn to be executed were locked up for the night in the garages adjacent to Babyn Yar on the current Dorohozhytska street. The executions continued the next day. According to the German reports, 33,771 people were killed in the first two days. Two weeks later, the number of victims already exceeded 51,000.
In August 1943, when the liberation of Kyiv became predictable, the Germans began to destroy the traces of one of the most massive murders of the Holocaust. The operation was supervised by the same SS Standartenführer Blobel, acting on the personal instructions of the Gestapo chief Heinrich Müller.
In Nuremberg, Blobel explained how it all happened: “After the top layer was removed, the corpses were poured over with flammable material and set on fire. It took about two days for the graves to burn down. I personally made sure that everything burned out to the very bottom. Then the grave was filled in, and thus practically all traces were eliminated.”
The Nazis were able to destroy the physical remains of the victims, but the Germans could not erase the memory of those who survived the executions and those who gave them shelter. Genya Batashova, Maria Palti, Raisa Dashkevich, Joseph Gusarev, Vasily Mikhailovsky, Lyudmila Borodyanska, Shelia Polischuk, Roman Shteyn and many others survived the executions, and their testimonies are crucial in preserving the truth about Babyn Yar.
One of the main tasks for the future Memorial Center in Babyn Yar is the identification of each of the tens of thousands of those killed there. Only by naming all the executed by name it will be possible to fully assess the scale of the tragedy that happened 79 years ago in order to prevent its recurrence.