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Wed Sep 30, 2015, 12:58 AM

The Little Known Holocaust, Before the Death Camps: Babi Yar (Graphic photos)

Almost 75 years ago, between September 29 and 30, 1941, 33,771 Jews were murdered at a ravine just outside of Kiev, known as Babi Yar. They weren't sent to the death camps of Poland or other places. When the Germans had finally taken Kiev, after a few months of battling the Soviets, they issued the following edict:

All (Jews) living in the city of Kiev and its vicinity are to report by 8 o'clock on the morning of Monday, September 29th, 1941, at the corner of Melnikovsky and Dokhturov Streets (near the cemetery). They are to take with them documents, money, valuables, as well as warm clothes, underwear, etc. Any (Jew) not carrying out this instruction and who is found elsewhere will be shot. Any civilian entering flats evacuated by (Jews) and stealing property will be shot. (source)


Of course, the word "Jew" was not used, instead it was the equivalent of the word "kike" and was posted in both Russian and Ukrainian. (source). Once the Jews gathered, they were taken to the gorge, made to strip naked, then in groups of about 10-20 people, they were systematically gunned down by an Einsatzgruppe and fell into the gorge. Men, women, and children were sent to their deaths in this manner. Over the next few years, the total of those murdered at Babi Yar was believed to have grown to 100,000 and include Jews who escaped the initial massacre, the Roma, communists, and prisoners of war.

The grotesque nature of the event wasn't over; as the Soviet army advanced to reclaim Kiev in 1943, the Nazi's did what they could to hide the evidence of what happened. They "enlisted" several prisoners, some were Jews, to get rid of the remains. First, they had to dig up the bodies, then they used special hooks to pull the bodies from the grave, many of the bodies had fused together. To further the desecration, they were instructed to search the bodies for any valuables which may have been missed, especially gold teeth, and remove them. A pyre was created of which the base was made of the gravestones from the local Jewish cemetery. Once the bodies were reduced to ash, then the ash was sifted to check for gold and pieces of bone, which were then pulverized.

This was The Holocaust. Most people are only familiar with the death camps, and while they certainly played a part in the destruction of the Jewish people of Europe, as well as many others, including gays, Romani people, Poles, and the list goes on, events like Babi Yar were happening well before the death camps were established. The continued to happen throughout the war, just on a much, much smaller scale. Given some recent events and demonstrations of the lack of knowledge about the Holocaust, I felt it was important to bring this event to light here and give people an opportunity to learn something they may not have known about the Holocaust, WWII, and the Nazi regime and its depraved cruelty.


An aerial photograph of Babi Yar taken by the German air force. September 26, 1943.
— National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md.





Nazi SS Special Commanders line up Kiev Jews to execute them with guns and push them in to a ditch, already containing bodies of victims, The Babi Yar Massacre, World War II, 1941. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)


The Babi Yar memorial to the Jewish victims (picture from http://thewanderingscot.com/), which wasn't allowed until 1991 and vandalized in 2006 (source).

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Reply The Little Known Holocaust, Before the Death Camps: Babi Yar (Graphic photos) (Original post)
Behind the Aegis Sep 2015 OP
villager Sep 2015 #1
MisterP Sep 2015 #5
LWolf Sep 2015 #15
villager Sep 2015 #28
LWolf Sep 2015 #32
Ex Lurker Sep 2015 #2
Mnemosyne Sep 2015 #3
PaddyIrishman Sep 2015 #13
Mnemosyne Oct 2015 #37
denbot Sep 2015 #19
Mnemosyne Oct 2015 #39
jpak Sep 2015 #24
Mnemosyne Oct 2015 #38
beam me up scottie Sep 2015 #4
840high Sep 2015 #6
Live and Learn Sep 2015 #7
JDPriestly Sep 2015 #8
Xithras Sep 2015 #25
JDPriestly Sep 2015 #26
Snobblevitch Sep 2015 #34
Xithras Oct 2015 #40
JDPriestly Oct 2015 #42
Xithras Oct 2015 #45
Hulk Sep 2015 #9
Duppers Sep 2015 #10
mahina Sep 2015 #12
Duppers Sep 2015 #14
mahina Sep 2015 #35
JI7 Sep 2015 #11
Behind the Aegis Sep 2015 #20
JDPriestly Oct 2015 #43
Sissyk Sep 2015 #16
Nye Bevan Sep 2015 #17
brer cat Sep 2015 #18
riderinthestorm Sep 2015 #21
1monster Sep 2015 #22
polly7 Sep 2015 #23
Snobblevitch Sep 2015 #27
smirkymonkey Sep 2015 #29
Rex Sep 2015 #30
JDPriestly Oct 2015 #44
Rex Oct 2015 #46
Snow Leopard Sep 2015 #31
LiberalElite Sep 2015 #33
TBF Sep 2015 #36
DFW Oct 2015 #41
Tierra_y_Libertad Oct 2015 #47
rug Oct 2015 #48
geardaddy Oct 2015 #49

Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 01:25 AM

1. The Einsatzgruppen....

 

The sobering thing is all the cooperation it required, for the Nazis to carry out the Holocaust. That's the aspect that you realize isn't "consigned to history...."

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Response to villager (Reply #1)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 02:22 AM

5. I get such chills seeing the 14th SS logos across Ukraine

the SS often had to hold the HiWis back (because they didn't want to get caught)

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Response to villager (Reply #1)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 08:21 AM

15. I often

am sobered, thinking about how easily our modern masses are manipulated into support for inhumane things.

And that, given our current state, how easily they can be led further down that path.

Is there something inherent in humans that loves to hate, that thrives on being the bully, on aggression, on violence, that is constantly trying to justify hate?

We like to call such atrocities "inhuman," but in reality, what other species does this?

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Response to LWolf (Reply #15)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 06:36 PM

28. Exactly. In her great "Parable of the Sower," Octavia Butler posited that the next "mutation"

 

...that would, or could, change humanity was a pronounced empathy trait.

Some individuals in our species have a localized version of that trait. Generally those with more expansive versions wind up assassinated, crucified, etc....

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Response to villager (Reply #28)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 09:57 PM

32. That's the core.

Empathy. I've never really thought about localized vs expansive, but that makes sense.

Maybe, instead of wallowing in hate and fear. we ought to be pouring resources into things that further develop empathy.

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 01:29 AM

2. The Holocaust was first implemented by roving firing squads

the camps and gas chambers came later as the Nazis sought efficiency and to lessen the mental toll on the executioners.

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 01:35 AM

3. I do not think I have ever felt as hungry as I did reading 'Babi Yar'. nt

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Response to Mnemosyne (Reply #3)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 06:35 AM

13. I think you mean angry

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Response to PaddyIrishman (Reply #13)

Thu Oct 1, 2015, 11:18 AM

37. I should have included that, I was livid. nt

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Response to Mnemosyne (Reply #3)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 10:42 AM

19. I read that book many years ago.

It made me wish I believed there was a hell for those who committed those acts.

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Response to denbot (Reply #19)

Thu Oct 1, 2015, 11:24 AM

39. I wish I believed in hell for many then and now. nt

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Response to Mnemosyne (Reply #3)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 02:46 PM

24. I read that book many times as a kid - horrific

The only bright spot was that the boy's cat Titus survived the famine...

The Soviet government covered up all the evidence of this massacre.

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Response to jpak (Reply #24)

Thu Oct 1, 2015, 11:23 AM

38. I had forgotten about that cat! Need to re-read this book. nt

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 02:24 AM

6. ...

 

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 02:27 AM

7. There are no words ... nt

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 02:33 AM

8. K&R. The Holocaust makes all other genocides in the 20th century almost trivial.

The number of people killed, the brutality, the cold-blooded organization and the racism have not been matched.

So many on DU forget that -- or never knew it in the first place.

Thanks for reminding everyone.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #8)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 03:11 PM

25. Khmer Rouge?

While the Nazi's clearly perpetrated the largest genocide, the brutality of groups like the Khmer Rouge rates their genocidal actions far above "trivial". Pol Pot executed 50% of the Chinese population in Cambodia simply because they were Chinese. If they suspected that you were Muslim, they'd put a plate of pork in front of you and order you to eat it. If you refused, they'd shoot you in the head on the spot and execute your entire family. Have a college degree? Death. Wear eyeglasses? Death. Starving and steal a handful of rice? Death. Speak a foreign language? Death. Have a relative who was once in the government or military? Death to your whole extended family. Pol Pot killed two million people in three years using a level of brutality that the Nazi's would have approved of. Hell, if the Khmer found three people having a conversation on a sidewalk, they'd shoot them all on site. Unapproved gatherings of more than two people were strictly forbidden.

I live in an area where a lot of Cambodian refugees were re-settled after fleeing Cambodia, and am friends with several second generation Cambodian-Americans. They'd be horrified to see someone describe the Cambodian Genocide as "almost trivial".

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Response to Xithras (Reply #25)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 03:23 PM

26. Khmer Rouge -- most sadistic.

NAZIs -- most methodical.

When will we learn?

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #26)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 10:34 PM

34. The Holodomor was quite sadistic as well.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #26)

Thu Oct 1, 2015, 11:54 AM

40. Most people really have no idea. (brutality warning)

One of my friends is the son of a survivor. He's part of his dads "second family", because his first was killed. The Khmer Rouge starved huge swaths of the nation, and his dad was caught stealing fruit to give to his starving wife and children. Instead of executing him, the local commander did something a bit more sadistic. They stuck him in a cage, and stuck his wife and children in another cage alongside it. Every day, the guards would pull him out of his cage and force him to eat. If he refused to eat, they'd beat him, or hold his hand in a fire, or peel the skin from his arm, or come up with some other horrendous way to make him suffer until he ate some food. And why would he refuse to eat? Because the Khmer commander decided that his "punishment" was that he'd eat every day, while he watched his wife and children die of starvation in the cage next to him. His two children died after about two weeks, and his wife lasted another week...still locked in a cage with their dead bodies.

When it was done, they forced him to carry their bodies to a pit grave while the soldiers talked about how they were going to shoot him and bury him alive once they were done. Instead, after their bodies were in the pit, they cut off the little finger from each of his hands and sent him back to his village. They had done ALL of that simply so that he'd spread the story around to scare other people away from stealing food.

He fled Cambodia during the Vietnamese invasion, made it to America, married another refugee and lives in central California today. He's one of the quietest, kindest men I've ever met, and every time I've met him I've wondered how he's still sane after surviving something like that.

The Khmer were some truly fucked up, evil people.

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Response to Xithras (Reply #40)

Thu Oct 1, 2015, 03:41 PM

42. Unbelievable. Makes me want to believe in a Hell and

damnation. That is a horrible story. Just horrible.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #42)

Thu Oct 1, 2015, 03:56 PM

45. The worst part...

...is that many of the people who perpetrated these crimes are still walking around free in Cambodia today. The Khmer Rouge didn't really end until a series of amnesties in the 1990's, and those allowed nearly all of the Khmer to walk free. Only a handful of high level leaders have been called to answer for their crimes.

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 02:45 AM

9. Visited something similar outside of Vilnius, Lithuania

Unbelievable, but all part of such an ugly history of cruelty and barbarism. The locals were partly to blame as well. I can only imagine how difficult it was to stand against such atrocities. It would have meant certain death, and most probably your family would be included in the barbarism.

When there we visited The Occupation Museum. It's unreal what those people had to endure. The Russians, then the Germans, then the Russians again...and this continued until there was no real heart or strength to resist the brutality that these occupying forces laid on these poor people.

We took a train to a city outside of Vilnius, where the Jews were marched, and then systematically lined up and gunned down by waiting machine guns. You have to imagine what it was like to have been a Lithuanian, and certainly the futile hopelessness of being a Jew. Unbelievable.

Your husband, sons, brothers, fathers would have been enlisted in whatever army occupied their country; and those who had served in the previous occupying force were either murdered or marched off to prison camps and never heard from again. This repeated itself for decades. It's no wonder you don't see people smiling on the streets even today. They are a people who were totally broken and nearly destroyed.

They are building their lives back today, but it will take generations. And hopefully Russia and other occupying forces will leave them in peace.

Definitely worthy of a visit if you ever happen to Eastern Europe. Beautiful cities; wonderful people; rich culture; but such a brutal and sad history.

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 05:30 AM

10. ...



MegaSlaughter tolls of the 20th Century:
http://necrometrics.com/20c5m.htm


And we call ourselves human.


It's sometimes difficult to be informed -- I often must struggle with the intense and profound sadness knowledge brings.




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Response to Duppers (Reply #10)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 06:12 AM

12. One of my favorite profs said we aren't human beings, but human becomings.

Hoping we become much better very soon.

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Response to mahina (Reply #12)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 08:03 AM

14. I like that, Mahina.

Thank you.

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Response to Duppers (Reply #14)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 10:51 PM

35. Hope it lightens the load.

I wish we were dolphin becomings.

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 05:34 AM

11. anti semitism was so wide spread and for hundreds of years

 

sometimes we dismiss certain things as nothing too big but that it all led up to this is not as much of a surprise as some may think.

it is still a problem . but i wonder if people know how accepted and common it was in those days.

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Response to JI7 (Reply #11)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 01:35 PM

20. It is still quite common today, just not as "in your face" as it was in the past.

It is pretty much the same with a variety of bigotries. The pre-WWII campaign against the Jews was pretty stealthy at first, then got more blatant. It started with blaming the Jews for the German defeat in WWI, claiming Germany lost because Jews were "back stabbers" and "more loyal to other places" (usually half and half between Soviet Russia (communists, Bolsheviks) and the US (capitalists)). Sounds so familiar. They blamed the Jews for damaging the economy with their "bankers" and the boycott of Germany. They claimed the Jews had taken control of various Western governments.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Reply #20)

Thu Oct 1, 2015, 03:43 PM

43. The Catholic Church was instrumental in spreading fear

and hatred for Jewish people in Europe for centuries. It did not start after WWI. It was there long, long, long before that.

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 08:30 AM

16. Horrifying.

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 08:31 AM

17. "Masters of Death: The SS-Einsatzgruppen and the Invention of the Holocaust"

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 09:28 AM

18. Thank you for this, BtA.

We must never forget, no matter how gut-wrenching it is to see.

K&R

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 01:45 PM

21. There's always time for a history lesson, esp as important as this. Thanks BtA. K&R

 



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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 02:43 PM

22. Many, many years ago, I found a book in a swap rack called

BABI YAR. Being a WWII buff at the time, I grabbed it.

If I remember correctly, the prologue was called "Ashes.". Appropriately so. I was so sickened by the incredible brutality and cruelty described in that chapter that I stopped reading it.

There have always been some outrageously sick people in this world, but I don't think there were ever so many at one time as there were in the 20th century. Many of them are deaf now, but some are still breathing.

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 02:44 PM

23. Horrific.

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 04:03 PM

27. I learned about Babi Yar in high school.

I did not know that it is not a widely known part of the Holocaust.

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 08:03 PM

29. As long as I live I will never understand this kind of evil.

How man can do this to his fellow human beings. I simply cannot get my mind around it. It breaks my heart and rips my soul apart.

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 08:10 PM

30. I was told people would never line up for their own execution.

 


Yes, that is correct you do see some of these poor women holding babies in line to be shot and thrown in a trench.


Please folks, do yourself a favor and actually read a book about Germany in WWII before bleating out something in ignorance.

Thanks.

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Response to Rex (Reply #30)

Thu Oct 1, 2015, 03:44 PM

44. Thank you.

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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #44)

Thu Oct 1, 2015, 03:59 PM

46. I made an ass out of myself over this issue.

 

I was so livid, but I need to remember a lot of people simply don't take the time to read history. I don't know if it is because they hate non-fiction or consider it boring, but I have to remember that.

I was livid at how ignorant some are and yet they call themselves progressives...the arts and humanities, important literature (fiction and non-fiction) should be required in all progressive households.

IMO.

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 08:49 PM

31. The Holocaust

 

Museum in Washington is very much worth seeing. Exhausting emotionally but needed. I'm always struck that The Japanese were at least as bad in the Far East. They somehow seem to always get forgotten.

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 10:12 PM

33. Thank you for this -

my uncle was a paratrooper in the Battle of the Bulge. Some time after returning home, I'll just say he dropped out of society, probably because of PTSD, then called "shell shock." My family kept some of his WWII items in a closet. This included a book of photos of concentration camp victims. I clearly recall looking at those photos as a young child. The Nazi atrocities cannot be repeated enough.

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Response to LiberalElite (Reply #33)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 11:01 PM

36. Similarly my FIL kept some

German items he had from the last couple of years when he was stationed there. We are going to donate them to one of the museums. Whenever someone denies it all happened these artifacts are very important to have on display.

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Thu Oct 1, 2015, 12:22 PM

41. A late friend of my wife's family was in the Hitler Youth

Looking back, almost age 80, he used to tell us that although it seems unbelievable now that he (or anyone) was ever an enthusiastic part of such a thing, he says the brainwashing of the children (he was about 12 when the war ended) was so thorough and complete, it was unimaginable to those children that there was any other truth than the one they were fed. We may wonder how fellow Americans actually believe the lies on Fox "News" seeing as how they have a choice but Fox has been on the air now since 1996. Almost 20 years. Imagine someone brought up to think there IS no other reliable source of news. If Roger Ailes suddenly decided it was time to tell his minions to go out and shoot any Democrat they could find, and had all his stooges on Fox Noise start saying nothing else, how long do you think it would be before the first murders would occur?

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Thu Oct 1, 2015, 04:03 PM

47. BABI YAR By Yevgeni Yevtushenko

 

BABI YAR

By Yevgeni Yevtushenko
Translated by Benjamin Okopnik, 10/96

No monument stands over Babi Yar.
A steep cliff only, like the rudest headstone.
I am afraid.
Today, I am as old
As the entire Jewish race itself.

I see myself an ancient Israelite.
I wander o’er the roads of ancient Egypt
And here, upon the cross, I perish, tortured
And even now, I bear the marks of nails.

It seems to me that Dreyfus is myself. *1*
The Philistines betrayed me – and now judge.
I’m in a cage. Surrounded and trapped,
I’m persecuted, spat on, slandered, and
The dainty dollies in their Brussels frills
Squeal, as they stab umbrellas at my face.

I see myself a boy in Belostok *2*
Blood spills, and runs upon the floors,
The chiefs of bar and pub rage unimpeded
And reek of vodka and of onion, half and half.

I’m thrown back by a boot, I have no strength left,
In vain I beg the rabble of pogrom,
To jeers of “Kill the Jews, and save our Russia!”
My mother’s being beaten by a clerk.

O, Russia of my heart, I know that you
Are international, by inner nature.
But often those whose hands are steeped in filth
Abused your purest name, in name of hatred.

I know the kindness of my native land.
How vile, that without the slightest quiver
The antisemites have proclaimed themselves
The “Union of the Russian People!”

It seems to me that I am Anna Frank,
Transparent, as the thinnest branch in April,
And I’m in love, and have no need of phrases,
But only that we gaze into each other’s eyes.
How little one can see, or even sense!
Leaves are forbidden, so is sky,
But much is still allowed – very gently
In darkened rooms each other to embrace.

-“They come!”

-“No, fear not – those are sounds
Of spring itself. She’s coming soon.
Quickly, your lips!”

-“They break the door!”

-“No, river ice is breaking…”

Wild grasses rustle over Babi Yar,
The trees look sternly, as if passing judgement.
Here, silently, all screams, and, hat in hand,
I feel my hair changing shade to gray.

And I myself, like one long soundless scream
Above the thousands of thousands interred,
I’m every old man executed here,
As I am every child murdered here.

No fiber of my body will forget this.
May “Internationale” thunder and ring *3*
When, for all time, is buried and forgotten
The last of antisemites on this earth.

There is no Jewish blood that’s blood of mine,
But, hated with a passion that’s corrosive
Am I by antisemites like a Jew.
And that is why I call myself a Russian!

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Thu Oct 1, 2015, 04:09 PM

48. No monument stands over Babi Yar.

 

A steep cliff only, like the rudest headstone.
I am afraid.
Today, I am as old
As the entire Jewish race itself.

I see myself an ancient Israelite.
I wander o’er the roads of ancient Egypt
And here, upon the cross, I perish, tortured
And even now, I bear the marks of nails.

It seems to me that Dreyfus is myself.
The Philistines betrayed me – and now judge.
I’m in a cage. Surrounded and trapped,
I’m persecuted, spat on, slandered, and
The dainty dollies in their Brussels frills
Squeal, as they stab umbrellas at my face.

I see myself a boy in Belostok
Blood spills, and runs upon the floors,
The chiefs of bar and pub rage unimpeded
And reek of vodka and of onion, half and half.

I’m thrown back by a boot, I have no strength left,
In vain I beg the rabble of pogrom,
To jeers of “Kill the Jews, and save our Russia!”
My mother’s being beaten by a clerk.

O, Russia of my heart, I know that you
Are international, by inner nature.
But often those whose hands are steeped in filth
Abused your purest name, in name of hatred.

I know the kindness of my native land.
How vile, that without the slightest quiver
The antisemites have proclaimed themselves
The “Union of the Russian People!”

It seems to me that I am Anna Frank,
Transparent, as the thinnest branch in April,
And I’m in love, and have no need of phrases,
But only that we gaze into each other’s eyes.
How little one can see, or even sense!
Leaves are forbidden, so is sky,
But much is still allowed – very gently
In darkened rooms each other to embrace.

-“They come!”

-“No, fear not – those are sounds
Of spring itself. She’s coming soon.
Quickly, your lips!”

-“They break the door!”

-“No, river ice is breaking…”

Wild grasses rustle over Babi Yar,
The trees look sternly, as if passing judgement.
Here, silently, all screams, and, hat in hand,
I feel my hair changing shade to gray.

And I myself, like one long soundless scream
Above the thousands of thousands interred,
I’m every old man executed here,
As I am every child murdered here.

No fiber of my body will forget this.
May “Internationale” thunder and ring
When, for all time, is buried and forgotten
The last of antisemites on this earth.

There is no Jewish blood that’s blood of mine,
But, hated with a passion that’s corrosive
Am I by antisemites like a Jew.
And that is why I call myself a Russian!

BABI YAR
By Yevgeni Yevtushenko
Translated by Benjamin Okopnik, 10/96

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Original post)

Fri Oct 23, 2015, 03:13 PM

49. I read a book on this about 20 years ago.

It was a chilling account from someone who survived.

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