Oleksandr Feldman: Babyn Yar is a terrible place of common tragedy and common pain


September 28, 2016

Oleksandr Feldman: Babyn Yar is a terrible place of common tragedy and common pain



of Ukrainian MP Oleksandr Feldman

at the parliamentary hearings “75th anniversary of the Babyn Yar tragedy: lessons of history and modern times”


Mr. Chairman, dear participants of the parliamentary hearings, distinguished guests! 

Babyn Yar is a multifaceted public phenomenon. But primarily, it is associated with the mass killings of people on ethnic grounds. 

It is one of the terrible pages of the Holocaust of Jews, which took 6 million lives, and the Holocaust of Roma of Ukraine. It is also the final resting place of hundreds of thousands people, who were the ideological opponents of the Nazi regime. 

What do all those people who died in Babyn Yar have in common? All of them were beyond the standards developed by the “masters of life.” The National Socialist German Workers’ Party and especially its leader considered themselves the “masters of life” then. Everyone knows how the attempts to assume the right to dispose of people’s destinies end. 

And this is the main and all-time lesson of Babyn Yar for the humanity! 

But what those “people,” although it is difficult to use this word speaking about them, had in common, those who “purified” the humanity? It should be noted that they often did that with “especially creative approach!” 

First, they were manipulated by the ideologist of the Third Reich. 

Second, they allowed to convince themselves that they were intended to carry out a “historical mission,” and that is why they were released from responsibility for tortures and killings. 

And this is another important lesson of Babyn Yar, which must be learned by those who live now. 

I have recently started to ask myself: did our society realize the tragedy of Babyn Yar in full? 

Have we made everything to learn its lessons? 

I should say that the process continues. But, unfortunately, it continues slowly and not in a consistent manner. 

For example, the decision made in 2006 to create the historical and cultural reserve “Babyn Yar” put an end to all the attempts to start construction “on bones.” 

But this reserve existed only on paper during nearly four years. There even were no premises for it. Only in 2010, the part of historical lands of Babyn Yar and the adjacent Jewish cemeteries were allocated. 

The situation has changed for the better recently. We’ve got rid of the Soviet clichés in definitions. Babyn Yar is not a faceless common grave of peaceful people anymore. The names of those who lie in this land have been officially indicated: the Jews of Kyiv, Ukrainians, Roma, the prisoners of war, the members of underground organizations, the sailors of the Dnieper Flotilla, the priests who refused to say the prayers to the glory of Fuerer, the members of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, as well as the patients of the Ivan Pavlov Mental Hospital. 

I am sure that our today’s talk in the PARLIAMENT will be the new powerful impulse for the society to understand the tragedy of Babyn Yar in full. 

Babyn Yar is a terrible place of common tragedy and common pain, and the decision about the perpetuation of the memory must be only complex. 

In this connection, I urge everyone to remember: it depends only on us for this process not to be stopped. 

The historical memory of our society will be preserved by generations if the State Strategy is implemented in Babyn Yar in addition to the monuments and memorial sign for the innocent victims. The aim of the strategy is to establish “safety devices” – legislative, informational and educational ones – in the society in order the Babyn Yar events not to happen again. 

I am sure that any rejection and unacceptance starts with the shortage of information. If people, especially the youth, obtained full information about those terrible events, we would not observe the increase of xenophobia and anti-Semitism today. It is sad but during three years, the law-enforcement authorities of the city of Kyiv got 126 complaints about the crimes committed on the territory of Babyn Yar. And the criminal proceedings were initiated only according to 5 of them. It is inadmissible! The criminals and vandals must know that the punishment is inevitable, it is not just teen-age ‘tricks’, but a serious criminal offence. 

Today, the qualitative changes in the understanding of the phenomenon called “Babyn Yar” are quite clear. However, in order not to repeat the mistakes, our efforts, the efforts of the state and local authorities, the civil society, and especially the mass media, must be consolidated. 

We should not admit the struggle for leadership and the excessive ambitions of these leaders to prevail. It is not the place to cross swords in internecine wars 

It is also amoral to self-promote on this topic. 

Nothing is so valuable as human life. That is why the infringement on it is the gravest crime. 

God help us if we drown this problem in empty talk. 

The youngest victim of Babyn Yar was only three days old. The oldest one was 103. Thousands of people with suitcases and small bundles in their hands are walking on their final journey, they carry their babies, help the old ones, and do not believe to the bitter end that they are walking towards their death. The memories of those few people who survived make the blood run cold, as these are the testimony of people who saw the hell.

 In the shadow of this large-scale human catastrophe, and for the sake of the next generations, the future of Ukraine depends on which, we must unite: regardless of political views and beliefs. 

  Thank you for attention!