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Project October 14, 2021

Building Babyn Yar: A Holocaust Memorial Like No Other

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In September 1941, over 33,000 Soviet Jews—including members of my own family—were shot and buried in the sprawling ravine at Babi Yar, just outside Kyiv. In total, approximately 100,000 people are estimated to have been killed there, making Babi Yar the biggest killing field in Eastern Europe, the epicenter of the “Holocaust by Bullets,” said to be the place where the Holocaust “began.”

For the past 80 years, the ravine has played a strange and shifting role in Ukrainian public life. Now, because of a multi-million-dollar effort financed by Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs, supported by the presidential administration of Ukraine, it has become a central battleground in the region’s contemporary politics.

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