Russia Has Bombed Babyn Yar, Site of a Memorial to Ukrainian Jews Executed by Nazis

At least five people were killed and another five were injured in the incident. 

Synagogue at the Babyn Yar memorial. (Photo by Britta Pedersen/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Russian forces have bombed Babyn Yar, a ravine in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv where thousands of Jews were executed by Nazis during the Second World War. At least five people were killed and another five were injured in the incident. 

Located at the site is an artist-conceived memorial to the Holocaust massacre currently under construction. The status of the memorial is currently unclear. 

[Update 3/2/22: Ruslan Kavatsiuk, deputy chief of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, told the New York Times that it was not directly damaged by the strike. However, he added that there was damage to a building that the center is planning to use as a museum in the future.]

News of the bombing at the symbolic site was confirmed by Ukraine’s foreign ministry, which called the move an act of “barbarism,” as well as its president Volodymyr Zelensky. 

“To the world: what is the point of saying ‘never again’ for 80 years, if the world stays silent when a bomb drops on the same site of Babyn Yar?” Zelensky said in a tweet. “At least 5 killed. History repeating…”

The target of the Babyn Yar strike was Kyiv’s main television and radio tower, located at the site. Rescue missions are ongoing, the Ukraine State Emergency Service said.

A photo of a bomb hitting a television and radio tower at Babyn Yar, shared by the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center.

A photo of a bomb hitting a television and radio tower at Babyn Yar, shared by the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center.

Referred to as the “Holocaust by Bullets,” the Babyn Yar massacre took place on September 29 and 30, 1941, when the Nazi’s executed Kyiv’s entire Jewish population. More than 30 thousand Jews were murdered in what was the largest mass killing perpetrated under the Nazi regime at the time. 

“Nazis killed over 33 thousand Jews here,” Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter. “80 years later, Russian Nazis strike this same land to exterminate Ukrainians. Evil and barbaric.”

Planned for the site where the executions took place is the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, a $100 million museum complex slated for completion in 2026. The campus will comprise a dozen buildings, including a church, a synagogue, a research center, and two museums, one for the victims of the Babyn Yar massacre and another for other Ukrainian and Eastern European Jews killed in the Holocaust. 

Last year, as part of a series of events to mark the 80th anniversary of the massacre, artist Marina Abramović unveiled an art installation at the site, the Crystal Wall of Crying, made of coal and quartz crystals. Her gallery, Sean Kelly, described it as “one of the largest art objects in Europe built over the past decade.”

“I want to create the image that is transcendental about any war at any time at any place,” Abramović told Reuters at the time.

Visitors stand at the <em>Crystal Wall of Crying</em> at the Babyn Yar memorial. (Photo by Britta Pedersen/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Visitors stand at the Crystal Wall of Crying at the Babyn Yar memorial. (Photo by Britta Pedersen/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Earlier today, prior to the attack, the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center issued a public statement condemning Russia’s attacks against Ukraine, calling the former country “the biggest instigator and initiator of war in the 21st century.”

“As experts who work with the Holocaust research and commemoration, we are deeply outraged that the aggressor country has used genocidal rhetoric to justify its shameful actions,” the Center said. “Russia has vulgarly instrumentalized anti-Nazi rhetoric and is trying to take on the role of a fighter against Nazism.”

In a statement following the bombing, posted to the Center’s Instagram, Babyn Yar Center advisory board chair Natan Sharansky said that “Putin’s attempts to distort and manipulate the Holocaust in order to justify an illegal invasion of a sovereign democracy are extremely disgusting. It is symbolic that he begins the offensive on Kyiv, with a strike on the territory of Babyn Yar, the greatest crime of the Nazis.”

The bombing drew condemnation internationally. The U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. issued an official statement, while the Jewish Museum in New York called the bombing “an appalling attack on Jews around the world.”


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