by: Janet Aslin
Wednesday, 29 September 2021 | Next Tuesday, President Isaac Herzog will embark on a three-day state visit to Ukraine. Foremost on his agenda is the speech he will deliver at the official commemoration ceremony marking 80 years since the first Babyn Yar Massacre.
The ceremony will take place on Wednesday afternoon at the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and German President Frank–Walter Steinmeier will also participate in the event.
President Herzog released this statement after he received the invitation from President Zelensky: “It is imperative to keep speaking about this horrific event and learn its lessons. The Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center is an important site for the commemoration of this painful memory and for the declaration that we must continue making together: Never again.”
Between the years of 1941–1943, up to 100,000 people were machine-gunned to death by the Nazis at the Babyn Yar Ravine just outside the city of Kyiv. This included the 33,771 Jews from Kyiv who were killed over the two-day period between September 29–30. After the initial massacre, the site was used by the Nazis to slaughter tens of thousands of Jews and others they considered undesirable.
Although the first massacre at the Babyn Yar Ravine took place in September, the event was not officially commemorated for the first time until October 6, 1991. At that time, President Herzog’s father, Chaim Herzog, was Israel’s president, and he sent a letter which was read by an Israeli diplomat. This year’s ceremony marks the 30-year anniversary of that first event.
The Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center is currently being developed on top the filled-in ravine where the massacres took place. At over 370 acres (150 hectares), it is the largest Holocaust memorial center in Eastern Europe. When it is completed, the center will include a museum, research institutes, a library, an archive and an online multimedia platform.
Natan Sharansky, a prominent Israeli who was born in Ukraine, is the chairman of the board for the international group that is guiding the establishment of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center. It will memorialize the 2.5 million Eastern European Jews who died during the Holocaust, ensuring that the world continues to remember the horrific tragedy that took place at this location over a three-year period in World War II.
While he is in Ukraine, President Herzog has a full schedule that will also include a private meeting with President Zelensky, an address before the Ukrainian parliament and the opportunity to participate in an event with the Jewish community in Ukraine.
President Herzog and the Israeli delegation accompanying him will return to Israel on October 7.
Posted on September 29, 2021
Source: (Bridges for Peace, September 29, 2021)
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