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Babi Yar: what was said in Kiev on 29 September 1941

On September 29-30, 1941 at Babi Yar, located near the old Jewish cemetery, the Nazis destroyed 33.000 Jews. This place was destined to become the symbol of the Holocaust in the Soviet Union. I thought about the Jews and the Gentiles in that day? This is the topic of the article is Dr. Arkady Zeltser, an employee of the International Institute for Holocaust research of «Yad Vashem».

Russian writer and dissident Victor Nekrasov, who did a lot to Babi Yar became a place of memory of the Holocaust and victims of persecution for it, recalled how his mother, a Russian woman, tried to persuade his fellow Jews not to go on September 29 to the gathering place. However, the efforts were in vain.

Why the majority of Jews complied with the order of the Nazis? What was the atmosphere of those days in Kiev? What the people knew about the ongoing Nazi Germany murders?

What prompted then Miheeva Tamara, Russian woman, voluntarily to join a column of Jews moving toward Babi Yar? Her story is given in the famous «Black book» prepared by edited by Vasily Grossman and Ilya Ehrenburg.

In the first months of the war, since the beginning of operation Barbarossa and until September 1941, in the occupied territories, the Nazis killed tens of thousands of Jews. At the same time information about what was happening on the fronts and in the occupied territories were very poor, and Kiev is full of numerous rumors.

They subsided and after 19 September 1941 the troops of the Wehrmacht entered the city, and only intensified after the September 28, were promulgated order all Jews to come to the Assembly point – with documents, valuables and the most necessary things. However, even the indication that the attack on the gathering place of the Jews was threatened with execution, was not alarmed then Tamara. Apparently the people quickly got used to the Nazi language of threats.

A Jew, Peter Reznikov, the husband of Tamara and the officer in the red army, disappeared in the first days of the war. She tried to find him, but to no avail. There was a rumor that the German command agreed with the Soviet Commission on the exchange of Jews for German prisoners: a Jewish family in one prisoner of war. Tamara came to the gathering place, hoping to impersonate a Jew – to be among those exchanged, then she can continue the search for her husband on Soviet territory.

She soon found herself behind the barrier that separated Jews from the rest of the population, in a long time – first for the surrender of things, then on registration. Tamara asked the high blue-eyed blonde, standing next to a child, a wife and mother of his wife: «do you think we are even going to be exchanged?»

Man, as it turned out Russified German, looking at her with surprise and, seeing that she was not Jewish, left the column and took her outside the fence, guarded by police. He later told Tamara that all the Jews which included his family, awaiting death.
However, not one Tamara believed the rumors, a similar situation happened not only in Kiev but also in many other places, spoke of the special labor mobilization of Jews for resettlement, and some claimed that they would be sent to Palestine.

«I personally was sure that they, the Jews, sent across the front line. Different hearings went, and we discussed them… was Told that in Minsk the Germans gathered all the Jews and sent across the front line. Talked about this one a Jew, who remembered the Germans in 1918. Some believed that can open a small shop and trade, and to survive that way, waiting for the end of the war,» said another Russian woman.

Sometimes the source of the rumors became the Nazis and the local police, but often they arose spontaneously, and to listen to them not only the Jews, ready from despair to believe in anything but Russian and Ukrainians.

Some believed that the Jews, as usual, will be in «wins» – under German patronage, they will move to more prosperous place, while the locals expect a more difficult fate.
It is obvious that not everyone was inclined to trust such rumors. Many are pessimistic about immediate prospects – especially those who survived the massacres during the Civil war.

Kiev Jewish Liba Chesney wrote to relatives in Leningrad in August 1941, before the occupation of the city: «there is No hope. We avenge our neighbors. The city has many hooligans. I had a lot of riots, but most will not be able to survive».

Mil Tanklevsky told how he, contrary to German orders, hid in a house and was seen running down the street in the direction of the Babi Yar of Jews, including his sister and father. This story shows the difficult choices, which in those years then many Jews.

On the way to Babi Yar of Jews had already had a premonition of the terrible outcome. – Dean pronicheva talks about the elders praying in the column of the doomed. However, many realized the full horror of what was happening only when I got close to the ravine: from the speakers raced had conş cealed from all music. Pronicheva remembers that, only hearing the sound of gunfire, she realized finally what was happening.

Russian writer Anatoly Kuznetsov, a teenager survived the occupation of Kiev, described in the documentary novel «Babi Yar», which was published in 1966 , as his grandfather came the realization chargedi: «when he Came home, saw his grandfather, he stood in the middle of the yard, tensely listening to some shooting. «You know,’ he said in horror, – because of their shot. And then it dawned on me: Babi Yar heard a distinct, rhythmic machine-gun fire…»

By the end of August, a month before Babi Yar, in Kamianets-Podilskyi, located 450 kilometers from Kiev, the Nazis shot 23 000 Jews. Information about September events at Babi Yar also had to rasprostranyatsya on the territory of Ukraine and further, and to open his eyes to what is happening. However, this did not happen, and why the information did not reach or are not credible, to figure out the researchers.

Published in the framework of the information partnership

Babi Yar: what was said in Kiev on 29 September 1941 27.09.2017

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