Ukraine marks 80th anniversary of Babi Yar massacre


A wall of tears de Marina Abramović

Advancing towards the heart of the USSR in the autumn of 1941, the Third Reich troops took Kiev on 19 September. A bit over a week later, the Einsatzgruppen C mobile death squads of the SS, with the collaboration of locals, murdered 33,771 Jews in the Babi Yar ravine, then outside the Ukrainian capital, on two days (29-30 September).

Eighty years later, the memory of Babi Yar gradually returns through a recently inaugurated series of structures that honor the victims, created in what is now a park by artists including the Serbian Marina Abramović. Her work, A wall of tears, stretches 40 meters and is built with Ukrainian anthracite coal, with quartz crystals grouped at different head, heart, and stomach levels to reflect the diversity of the victims. Not far away is the symbolic and partly opened synagogue made of Ukrainian oakwood, designed by Manuel Herz.

While the USSR existed, the fact that the main target of the killings were Jews was deliberately hushed; the first monument, erected in 1977, did not even mention them. As the French priest Patrick Desbois, head of the NGO Yahad in Unum, told The Economist this week, "In many countries there are mass graves, but nobody wants to remember the victims." As he sees it, the new sculptures are a message from the slain to the executioners: "We always return."

Four museums remain to be built which will take on different aspects of the history of Babi Yar, among them the Holocaust Memorial Center of querkraft...

The Economist: A bold, controversial memorial to a wartime massacre in Kyiv

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