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Behind the Aegis

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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).
Posted by Behind the Aegis | Wed Sep 30, 2015, 12:58 AM (49 replies)
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