On the 75th anniversary of the murder of more than 33,000 Jews at Babi Yar, a 100-strong delegation of the World Jewish Congress was in Ukraine to take part in events to remember the atrocity committed by Nazi Germany on 29/30 September 1941.
Speaking at a commemorative dinner, WJC President Ronald S. Lauder called Babi Yar “one of the most infamous pieces of ground in the entire world.” He also said: “We remember the dead. But, we are Jewish, and so we will always look forward and hope for better times.” He highlighted the Jewish revival Ukraine underwent in recent years, which he called a miracle, and said: “We are here in Kiev for one more important reason: We are here to celebrate the rebirth of a strong Jewish community here in Ukraine. This rebirth is nothing short of a miracle."
On behalf of the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter and the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine, the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Medal was presented to the Ukrainian scholar, dissident, social activist Ivan Dzyuba.
WJC CEO Robert Singer spoke at the official commemoration event in Kyiv, alongside Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, German President Joachim Gauck and US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzer. In his address, Singer said: “Babi Yar was not the only killing field left by the Einsatzgruppen, the SS killing squads responsible for the quick and efficient killing of all Jews. Nearby at Kamenenetz-Podolsky, 23,600 Jews were murdered. At Nikolayev near Odessa, over 22,000 Jews were slaughtered. The Nazis left killing fields all over Europe.”
As part of the series of events, the Israel Council on Foreign Relations, which operates under the auspices of the WJC, held a panel discussion of leading Holocaust scholars and Poland’s former Foreign Minister Adam Daniel Rotfeld, who as a child survived the Holocaust hidden in a Ukrainian monastery.
The events on the 75th anniversary of Babi Yar were organized in cooperation with the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine, the Vaad of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter.