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Historical information

Babyn Yar - a world-known place of tragedy, which became a symbol of the Holocaust, the largest international cemetery in Ukraine. Here, during the Nazi occupation of Ukraine were shot more than 100 thousand civilian Soviet citizens, prisoners of war, underground fighters, partisans, hostages, members of the OUN, mentally ill and others.

Jews and Gypsies (women, old peoples and children) - by nationality, communists and Komsomol members - for ideological reasons, and those who somehow did not suit the government of the “higher races” were murdered there by fascist punitive.

General information on the history of the area

Geographically - the top of the Babyn Yar ravine was near the actual Dorohozhytska Street and its mainstream (exactly - ravine), began from the actual Melnikov Street towards Kurenivka. Here was one of the biggest gullies in Kyiv (length more than 2.5 km depth from 5 to 30 m) on the bottom of which flowed a stream of the same name, in the past - right tributary of Pochayna river. [1]

On the northern side, branches of the ravine reached the actual O. Teliga Street, and one of them crossed the street in depth near the houses number 25, 29.

According to the historical version the name ” Babyn Yar ” appeared in the XV century. The first mention of it falls on 1401, when the owner of this land, old woman that was tavern keeper, sold it to Dominican monastery.

During the period of Kievan Rus Babin and Repyahovyi ravines were natural defence boundaries of ancient Kyiv.

Along the cape between Babi and Repyahovyi ravines in Cyrillic forest gradually Kyrylivske Orthodox cemetery formed (closed in 1929). On the north side in 1892-1894 construction of Lukianivka Jewish cemetery was started at the end of the pair side of Great Dorohozhytska Street, the current Melnikov Street.

There was berau house on the territory of the Jewish cemetery, which remained up today (now – Melnikov st., 44) (picture number 1). On the odd side of Melnikov Street also cemetery was created where soldiers were buried (so called Fraternal Cemetery). On the odd side of Lagerna Street (now - Dorohozhytska Street) since 1878 acted Lukianivskyi Orthodox cemetery (now – nikropol reserve).

In 1869 large area north from Old Zhytomyr Road (now Degtyarivska Street) between Lukianivka cemetery and the tops of the ravine Babyn Yar - on the one side, and the river Syrets - on the other side, was given for summer military camps. Here were built light houses, wooden churche, equipped parade ground, shooting ground and training field.

In 1895 to the tramlines were constructed to the camps, the so-called Camp Line, that worked for several years. During the First World War, in 1916 the line was closed due to shortage of wagons and tramways were dismantled. [2]

After the revolution and until the beginning of the war of 1941-1945 Syretsk camps remained in disposal of the militaries, the armored units were deployed here. On the forking of Melnikov and Camp Streets (now Dorohozhytska Street) repair station operated to mantain armored units, of which there are some buildings of the actual mechanical plant and former garages remained (picture number 2).

There are two historical misunderstandings connected with Melnikov Street. First, it was never officially called “Street of Melnik.” Sinse 1869 it was called Dorohozhytska (The Great Dorohozhytska). In 1922, it received its present name in honor of Kiev Marxist Y. Melnikov. [4]

It should be noted that during the occupation the old name was returned to the Street - Dorohozhytska [10] . A. Kudryckyi indicates that the Street had this name until 1957, but yet, on the map of 1965, it retains that name.

There are also debates about the question: where this street ended during the German occupation.

Before the war the paved part of Melnikov Street passed between the two cemeteries - the Jewish and the Military (Fraternal) and continued as dirt road. People who lived in the saburbs went on it to downtown. The fact that the paved part of the road ended between two cemeteries, led to that on some maps it ended there, while on the others continued to the actual Schuseva Street.

In particular, the schematic plan of 1935 and the plans of Kyiv made on its basis, published in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, issued in 1936 and in the Small Soviet Encyclopedia, issued in 1937 [11] indicated the unpaved part of Melnikov Street, which crossed the ravine and went further in Gostomel direction. This section of Melnikov Street was asphalted only in the 1950s.

Thus, by the early 1950’s Babyn Yar kept its shape, which mainstream began from the underground station “Dorogozhychy” and extended towards Kurenivka. And in the area from Melnikov Street to Dorohozhytska Street was wasteland, overgrown with bushes and small trees. Through it following the path, people went to the tram stop on Laherna St. (now Dorohozhytska St.).

In the book ” Babyn Yar -The Book of Remembrance”in the part ” Undiscovered secrets of ” Babyn Yar ” the Head of Babyn Yar Memorial Fund, head of the Society of Jewish Culture Ukraine Levitas I. M. writes: “Those who believe that the crime was commited on the spot where the monument stands in Dorohozhytska Street , they are wrong, Babyn Yar - a huge ravine with branches, which extends towards Kurenivka - to St. Cyril Church for nearly three and a half kilometres. At the bottom of it flowed streams that in spring overflowed and formed small lakes. Locals called it Kyrylivskyi.

This ravine started near the Jewish cemetery, the blank wall of which stretched along Melnikov Street. It was a very large cemetery, its area reached the regional hospital, and the branches of the Babi and Repyahov ravines. There is still the house, where there bureau and cemetery funeral service located – this is house number 44 on the Melnikova Street. Now here is a hostel of the hockey team “Sokil”. Here was the main entrance and the central alley began that was humpered by unnamed branch of Kirillov revine. Here in 1991 the monument “Menorah” – the Jewish seven-stick candelabrum was esteblished. [12]

The Babyn Yar tragedy

Since the war began the construction of fortifications was intensively carried out in Kiev. During these works the anti-tank ditches blocked main highways of the city. Thus, in order not to paralyze the movement the ditches were dug on both sides of the Streets and roadway remained intact. One of these ditches was dug perpendicular to the Melnikov Street little further its crossing with Pugachev Street. [13] .

Another ditch was dug near the Babyn Yar. It’s constantly found in the sources as a place of mass executions and burials.

After the announcement of the State Extraordinary Commission the anti-tank ditch was repeatedly mentioned in published documents. Thus, in 1954 in materials of the Nuremberg Trial were printed excerpts from the testimonies, that were given in 1945 by the chief cavalry sergeant G. Adamts who guarded the prisoners, that burned corpses at Babyn Yar. In particular, he said: “In one of the anti-tank ditches a grave was made, which was partially filled with corpses. This ditch was up to 100 meters in length, 10 meters in width and of 4-5 meters in depth… ” [14] .

In 1966 A. Kuznetsov in the documental novel ” Babyn Yar ”, talking about the burning corpses in 1943, wrote: “They began to take outwards the revine: in the next anti-tank ditch, about two hundred meters in length” [15] .

Klepco P. (1980): “At the beginning of Babyn Yar ravine, on the side of Dorohozhytska Street, anti-tank ditch was dug” [17] (doc. number 5).

Chernyakova J. (1980): “… I was walking from Lukianivka cemetery along Dorohozhytska Street in the direction of the actual D. Korotchenko Street. On the crossroad of these Streets the anti-tank ditch was dug ” [18] (doc. number 6).

In her testimonies recorded on video, given in 1997 by employees of the Fund “The survived Shoahs,” L. Zavorotna told that “when the war began, they locals, were sent” to the trenches”. One such anti-tank ditch extended from Lukianivka cemetery and to the very Syretsk camps ” [19] . And then, standing on the Dorohozhytska Street, near its crossing with O. Teligy Street, she pointed at the pavement behind the line of trees and said that there was anti-tank ditch of about three meters in width and depth, which extended to the cemetery [20] .

Thus, we can say that the anti-tank ditch, which during the German occupation becameth the place of mass executions, was dug from Lukianivka cemetery along the left side of the Lagerna Street (along actual morgue building) and crossed it in the place where it turned in the direction of Degtyarevska Street and Brest-Litovsk Avenue (at that time Lagerna Street included the actual T. Shamrila Street).

By this time, both in research and public awareness there is imagination of some single action that began and ended on September 29 or September 30 or later, but was held without interruption and by the same scenario. As a result of trying to locate these events, they at first look for one route and one place, and accordingly, try to keep all the shootings in a single action, corresponding testimonies of various witnesses.

In fact, we are dealing with a series of single actions, held for at least two years by various punitive bodies, different in scale, in relation to varioys groups of civilians (primarily Jews and Gypsies, hostages, intellectuals), POW , guerillas and members of an underground and what really matters, in different places, although within the same, small enough area.

The first period of shootings lasted from September to late October (or even mid-November) 1941. Executions during this time were mainly carried out by mobile units of the SS (einzats and police units) in assistance with the Gendarmerie (witnesses repeatedly describe typical uniform with big metal badge on chest) and units of the Wehrmacht (there are documents which indicate that in the shooting on September 29-30, participated the 454th Guarding Division [21] , 75th and 299th Infantry Division [22] ).

In the book ” Babyn Yar. The Book of remembrance”in the part “Undiscovered secrets of ” Babyn Yar ” Head of Babyn Yar Memorial Fund, head of the Society of Jewish Culture in Ukraine Levitas I. M. writes: “Executions continued for two years. During this time tens of thousands of people of different nationalities: Jews, Ukrainian, Russians, Gypsies were killed… By the way, Gypsies were shot in the first days of occupation immediately after the Jews: three Kurenevka camps. Shot by the St. Cyril Church, right there at Kurenivka. There were almost 100 people. The last Gypsies were shot right before the liberation of Kyiv: 12 kibitkas that tried to leave Kyiv “. [23]

Also, since the first days of occupation the mass shootings of the party officials and senior executives in Kyiv began.

The central event in the history of the Babyn Yar massacre was the mass elimination campaign of the Jewish population in Kyiv on 29-30 September 1941. First of all, we should try to answer the question, why Babyn Yar was chosen for it.

Before the occupation, Babyn Yar was the edge of town on the south side of which was a large number of cemeteries. In particular, Jewish, Cyril Orthodox, Muslim, Karaite, Fraternal (military), Lukyanivske. Therefore, to our opinion, the German-fascist invaders chose Babyn Yar for mass executions of people.

September 28 a message appeared on the streets in three languages ​​(picture number 3), according to which “All the Jews of Kyiv and its saburbs should come on Monday of the 29-th of September 1941 until 8 am to the corner of Melnykov and Dokterivska Streets.”

Its text excludes any assumption of being prepared by somebody of the Kyiv inhabitants. This is convincingly corroborated by indicated therein topographic inconsistencies. Because the cemetery, no matter - Jewish or Orthodox, began on the croosroad of Lagerna Street with Melnikov (now Dorohozhytska Street) and not with Dihtyarivska Street, which, besides, was called Dokterivska.

The route, which led people to the place of the shootings was described by many witnesses and is generally known. The men were led to be shot directly to Babyn Yar by the actual Melnikov and Dorohozhytska Streets.

It is said in the “Notification of events in the USSR” № 101 of October 2, 1941: “Zondercommand 4-a in cooperation with the staff of the group and two teams of police regiment “South “29 and 9/30/41 executed in Kiev 33,771 Jews.” [ 25]

However, there were executions also the following days.

The official Soviet publication in 1965 stated: “Executions in Babyn Yar lasted 5 days from morning to night.” Judging from the context, it refers to five days, from September 29, 1941 [26]

This version is generally accepted. Kyiv historian V. Korol give a well-known fact that “since September 29, 1941, during five days at Babyn Yar more than 100 thousand people were killed, mostly Jews. [27]

At the same time sinse mid-October of 1941 to the end of September 1943 Babyn Yar was the site of regular executions (and burial), conducted by the Security Police and SD [28] in close cooperation with military and civil authorities of Kyiv.

From the very beginning the personnel of the newly established Ukrainian police was also involved in shootings.

The second period of shooyings in Baby Yar could theoretically be divided into three stages.

The first phase, lasted from mid-October to the spring of 1942. It begans on the backdrop of the ongoing mass actions, and at this time the local military authorities intensively involved in the executions units of the SS, which vere deployed in Kiev.

The second phase of systematic executions: the end of winter 1942 - mid-August 1943, conventionally coincides with the time of activity of the joint SD agency in Kiev, and Gestapo (KDS), which replaced the BDS Office. The KDS also included remains of the operational command 5.

The third and final period of systematic executions in Babyn Yar took place on the background of intensive corpses elimination work, which took place in Babyn Yar in August-September 1943 g. This work was conducted by Syretskiy concentration camp prisoners, resettled in the dugout, placed directly in Babyn Yar. The camp itself during this period was gradually evacuated.

The work began on August 18 and ended on September 28, 1943. They were directly managed by Sturmbannfuhrer SS E. Tonhayde (witnesses call him Tonayde), one of the direct participants of the shooting on September 29-30 1941. Protection was provided by the special Unit 1005, staffed exclusively with officers and non-commissioned officers.

As for the victims of repressions, there are three categories among them. First – the Jews who managed saved during the mass executions. Second - former Syretskiy concentration camp prisoners. Third - the survived participants of corpses burning in Babyn Yar, some of which also went through Syretsky concentration camp [30] .

The earliest date of the beginning of the shootings told in his testimonies, given to People’s Commisariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) on November 15, 1943 I. Azarov, who lived on Babyn Yar Street, 19 (now Olzhych Street).

According to him, “the Germans entered Kyiv on 19.IX.1941 and on 20.IX.41, they led groups of mainly Soviet prisoners of war to be shot in Babyn Yar, that is about 800 - 1000 meters from my house. Personally I didn’t see how they were shot, as there was guard and they didn’t let us go closer, we could only hear the cries of people and automatic shots. Thus from 20.IX.41 every day the Germans led to the shootings hundreds of people ” [31] (doc. number 7).

With this evidence also coincide the words of M. Lutsenko, daughter of the Lukianivskyi cemetery watchman S. Lutsenko. During the occupation she lived with her family in a house 96 on Melnikov Street. At the NKVD interrogation as a witness on the 15-th of November 1943 she told that “approximately in September 1941, I saw myself how German execution squads led the Red Army prisoners who were naked, behind the Russian cemetery (Luk’yanivka). No matters how long I observed, those who had been led there – didn’t return”. [32] (doc. number 12).

It is known that in May 1941 the Supreme Command of the armed forces of Germany prepared “Directive on the treatment to responsible political officials and other persons of that kind.”

In particular, it stated:

“1. Responsible political officials and political (leaders) should be eliminated.

2. As they will be captured by the troops, the decision about whether they should be executed, is made by the officer who has the right to impose disciplinary sanctions. For the decision the fact of discovering that the person is the governing political official is enough.

3. Political leaders are not considered as prisoners by the armed forces and should be eliminated, no later than in the transit camps. No evacuation to the rear area “. [33]

Thus, most likely immediately after the capturing of Kyiv in Babyn Yar the shootings of the political officials, prisoners of war, the Communists, who were captured began. The place of shootings may be determined only approximately. Anyway, behind Lukianivka cemetery there was a large number of trenches dug during the tactical training of the soldiers that were deployed in Syretsk military camps.

The later date of the beginning of executions than Azarov’s, told in November 1943 to Extraordinary State Commission N. Gorbachev, who lived not far from the Babyn Yar, on Tiraspol Street, 55, fl. 2.

She said that “On September 22, 1941 I personally saw how during the day in Babyn Yar about 40 trucks was moving that were overloaded by Jewish population - men, women and children, some women were holding infants in hands.

I and a few women who lived near Babyn Yar, invisibly to the German guard, approached the place where the vehicle were stopping a and people brought on them unloading. We saw that in 15 meters before Babyn Yar started, the Germans forced the brought Jews to undress and told them to run along the ravine, shooting those who were fleing, with rifles and machine guns.

I saw myself how the Germans threw babies into the ravine. In the ravine there were not only shot but also wounded, and alive children. The same Germans buried ravine, and one could see how a thin layer of the ground moved because of the alive people” [34] (doc. number 8)

From early morning on September 29, 1941 Jews from all over Kyiv began to gather near the plant of Artem. Where further laid their way?

J. Ekel, born in 1923: “In the morning of September 29, 1941 father, mother, grandmother and I in a cart harnessed with only one horse, came to the area of Lukianivka market until about 10am. We were approaching Pugachev Street. Once those who crossed Pugachev street, they were taken under the Nazi machine gunners convoy and back to the Melnikov Street no one was allowed”. [36] (doc. number 10).

G. Batasheva: “In the morning of September 29, 1941 … at about 9 am we left our yard and went along Artem Street to which from all other streets gathered people and in the general flow moved till the Street of Melnik and Degtyarevska Street … We stayed a bit, but people still went on walking in a continuous stream towards Babyn Yar. The was already about 10 am and we walked down the Street of Melnik in the general mass of people … I remember very well how at this time in the opposite direction from the side of Babyn Yar convoy of trucks was moving. Just can’t remember the exact number of them, something about 15, each car was covered with a tarpaulin. In the car bodies were 2-3 Nazis with machine guns. Near the crossroad of Melnikov and Pugachev Streets Nazi machine gunners took us under convoy and back on the Street of Melnik no one was allowed”. [37]

D. Pronicheva “in one of such groups of 500-600 people, I was convoyed with my mother. As we passed along the Babyn Yar and approached the high level platform, we had to pass some kind of alive passage of Nazis aligned in 2 rows. Passing 30 meters through this corridor, we appeared on the mentioned above platform where people were stripped and in groups of 50-60 people led into the ravine, which was approximately 30 meters from the site and there they were shot with machineguns ” [38] (doc. number 11) .

K. Werner, inter away, I saw a large natural ravine. It was a sandy area. The ravine was approximately 10 meters in neck…

…This day, executions continued until about 17 or 18 o’closk”. [39] .

Germans couldn’t cope with such number of people, therefor mounted a heavy machine”In winter 1942, I do not remember exactly in which month, German sol.: “At the end of 1941 or early 1942, I remember it was cold and the snow was laying, I saw in the (antFebruary 1942) Dr. Schumacher ordered to conduct 3-4 gassing. Chosen for gassing prisoners usually early in the morning were loaded into the gas vehicle in the prison yard sings and bandages …

The forensic medical examination showed that the the deaths became as the result of head injuries, caused by the shots, fractures of the skull and ry Tuesday and Friday came the cars to the ravine with those who were arrested in the city and and they were shot.

I also saw how gray covered machines repeatedly came to en so far unknown. But most researchers tell the number of about 100-150 thousand people.

Monuments set in Babyn Yar and near it

The first monument to the victims of fascecision was made by the Kiev Municipal Committee of CPU and the State Committee “On the establishment of memorial embedded stones in the Babyn Yar and in the park on Privokt after backfilling of the ravine in 1961 the ground could not stand such a massive monument. It was decided to establish the monument on firm ground between the two placess placed on the edge of the former Jewish cemetery and former Kirillov Orthodox cemetery, and one of the branches of Baby Yar. Not far from the main monument (of 1976) on Fhe inscription: “In this place on November 6, 1941 the priests were shot, Archimandrite Alexander Vishnyakov and Archpriest Pavlo for the appeals to protect the Motherland ument to the victims of Nazism with a symbolic image of concentrationpeople were killed in 1941. Lord give rest to their souls “(photo № 13).

Creation of the National Historical Memorial Preserve “Babyn Yar”.

Question of creation of the f Babyn Yar with the surrounding territories.

According to the directive of the President of Ukraine or of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Ukraine from 12.10.2007 № 1275/0/16-07 the Statute of the National Historical Memorial Preserve «Babyn Yar» was adopted. Regnal Historical Memorial Preserve «Babyn Yar» from the sphere of manfuture generations of people to know and remember about it.

Unfortunately, over time these tragic events are being deleted from the human memory, reducing sharpness of theconsolidation of the whole society, political parties, NGOs is required and not only Jewish, it worth mr the development and establishment of our country.

And there’s a lot of work here. And for its implementation the proper financing is required. In the conditions of arve and fix the security zones, to take on the balance of the preservy common efforts.

Literature and sources.

  1. Ponomarenko L, Resnick O. Short toponymic guide. - K., 2003 .- P. 8.
  2. Explanatory note to the General reconstruction plan of Kiev. - K., 1936. - P. 74
  3. Kyiv Encyc. guide. / Ed. A. V. Kudryckyi. - K., 1981. - P. 375.
  4. The scheme of routes and passages of Kyiv divided into kilometres and parts of km. Off. Type. Of the Section of transport, communications and road construction, Kyiv Municipal Council; composed by: Tever I. Ju, Malyshev P. V., Packer Ju. A. - 1:10000. - K., 1932.
  5. The Great Soviet Encyclopedia. - M., 1936. - T.32 .- STB. 255-256 6.State archive of Kiev region, f. P - 4322, op.1.
  6. “Draft of new street names” 1941 (DAKO, fax. F. R. - 2356, op. 1 spr.50, p.64) and list of house management offices of 1943.
  7. Levytas I. Babyn Yar: “Saviors and saved”. - K., 2005.
  8. The streets of Kyiv: guide. / Ed. Kudrycka A. V. - K., 1995. - P.69.
  9. The small Soviet Encyclopedia. - M., 1937. - V.5 - P.419. 11.Levytas I. “Children of Babyn Yar”. - K., 2008.
  10. Kravchuck, A. A. “The memories of Kravchucks family”. - K., 2001. - P. 105 – 106, 108
  11. The Nyurnberg process: Collection of materials. 2-d addition, Corr. and ed / Horshenin K. P. and others. - M., 1954. - T. (further - Nyurnberg process). - P. 643.
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  13. Fund “The survived Shoah” video-recorded evidences Zavorotnoy L., 1 oct. 1997, Cass. 3
  14. Collection of documents and materials on elimination of Ukrainian Jews by Nazis in 1941-1944 / Comp. Kruglov A. - K., 2002. - P. 78.
  15. Kegel G. “In storms of our century: The notes of scout anti-fascist. - M., 1987.
  16. Levytas F., Shymanovskyi M.”Babiy Yar: Pages of the tragedy”.- K., 1991.
  17. Pavlenko P., Prymost V. “Academy of genocide, or the monologue about Last Judgment” / / Komsomolsk Banner. - 1990. - May 8.
  18. Levytas I. “Babyn Yar: Book remembrance”. - K., 2005.
  19. The Ukrainian SSR in the Great Patriotic war of the Soviet Union 1941-1945. - K., 1965. - Vol.1. - P.675-676.
  20. Evstafieva T., Nakhmanovich V. Babyn Yar: “The man, the power, the historystory” / / K., 2004.
  21. Kyiv trial: Doc. and materials. - K., 1995. - P. 42.
  22. “Criminal goals – criminal means: Documents on occupational policy of the Nazi Germanys in the territory of the USSR (1941-1944). Edit. 3. - M., 1985.
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  24. Petrashevych Yu. Ind. Work / / Kyiv. - 1994. - № 5 / 6. - P.103.
  25. Budnik, D., Kaper J. Ind. Comp. - P.162.
  26. Korol V. Yu. “Babyn Yar and the Nazi genocide against intellectuals and POW / / Bulletin of Kyiv. Univ. hist.-phil Sciences. - 1992. - Ed.8 .- 23.