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A zoom press conference was devoted Tuesday (August 31) to the 80th anniversary of the Babyn Yar massacre ahead of an event “Lessons from Babyn Yar: History, Memory and Legacy”, which is jointly organized by the House of European history in Brussels and the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center (BYHMC), based in Kiev, writing Yossi Lempkowicz.
The conference, organized in cooperation with the European Jewish Association, discussed the lessons 80 years later, as well as the unveiling of new and unique tools to keep the lessons, history and memory alive, including putting faces and names of those who were murdered for the first time. time.
Among the speakers, French father Patrick Desbois, founder of Yahad-In Unum and chairman of the scientific board of BYHMC, pointed out 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, now Ukraine).
“The inhabitants voluntarily helped the young fascists. The armed men were given sandwiches and tea with little vodka because the mass executions lasted for many hours,” he noted.
Father Patrick asked a practical question: Where did the tons of valuables and objects taken from Jews go before their execution? “It would seem that everything should be documented, but it is easier to find detailed evidence and statistics on the shootings than information on the confiscated property of those killed. It was as if the Germans were embarrassed to write about anything. such facts. ” He added: “For me, this is another terrible proof of the Babi Yar tragedy: human life is reduced to zero. It is only the result of statistics, nothing more. He USSR, in whose territory the tragedy took place, has long tried to hide the truth about Babyn Yar, but our generation has one goal: to uncover the hidden facts and piece together the story of this bloody genocide.
“I visited Raka in Syria where there was a mass grave. The journalists came, the journalists went. Maybe 80 years from now there will be a debate about what an “appropriate” memorial is. What is important is to keep the memory and the lessons alive, ”said Father Desbois.
One of the panelists, Marek Siwiec, Director of European Affairs at BYHMC, provided information on many ongoing projects, each of which can help restore the truth about Babyn Yar.
A colossal job has been accomplished: out of more than 33,000 dead, 28,428 names have been identified, and essential family and personal facts have been returned. All of these invaluable discoveries became the basis of an extensive program called “Project Names”.
“It brought us closer to the real life of those who were shot in Babi Yar. They say 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 all those who have been left in this terrible place, who have not lived, who have not loved, who have not left 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 on the war crimes of WWII. This app has so far registered 2,850 sites across Europe on “The Holocaust by Gunshot”, allowing users to see and learn what happened wherever they are.
“These are mass extermination sites, eyewitness accounts, documentary evidence, which were preserved with German punctuality and pedantry throughout the war,” Siwiec explained.
On the anniversary of the Babyn Yar massacre, the 29e In September, 15,000 schools in Ukraine will participate in a “Holocaust Day lesson”.
“The key word that underlies all of our activities is education. It is only through education that the tragic disasters of the past can never happen again, ”said Siwiec.
Marek Rutka, member of the Sejm, the Polish parliament, and chairman of the parliamentary group for the commemoration of the crimes of Babyn Yar and for a Europe without genocide and hatred, explained that members of his political party regularly visit the sites of the executions of the Shoah. “They see heartfelt tragedies leading to political conclusions about the need to talk about the Holocaust on a European scale. There is no genocide without the tolerance of neighboring countries. These words can be taken as the motto of everything. debate.”
Anton Schneerson, who wrote this article for European Jewish Press, is a Ukrainian Jew living in Germany. The Jewish community in their hometown of Dnipro has succeeded in building one of the most important Holocaust museums in the world that covers in depth the tragedy of Babyn Yar.