Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center: NEWS

30.09.2016

Victor Pinchuk has joined the initiative to create Holocaust Memorial Center at the site of Babi Yar massacre

On the 75th anniversary of one of the most notorious atrocities of the Second World War, members of a broad international coalition gathered today in Kyiv to announce their commitment to create a new memorial and educational center in Ukraine to commemorate the massacre at Babi Yar.

Addressing the entire international community and the people of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, the president of Ukraine, spoke today of the necessity of creating a Memorial Center dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust in Ukraine, and commemorating the lives of all those killed at Babi Yar.

“The creation of the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial Center is very significant for the whole of humanity. This center must become a part of the efforts of civilized people to assure the triumph of human values in the research of historical truth,” the President Poroshenko stressed.

The President continued by saying that the Holocaust was the most tragic chapter of the history of the Jewish and Ukrainian people. 

“This tragedy was not just national, but global, in scope. Ukraine was one of the main theatres of the most barbaric wars of all time, and the genocide of the Jewish people that took place on Ukrainian territory against the will of Ukrainians. Never again. Such a tragedy must never happen again”.

The Initiative Group of the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial Center represents an unprecedented collaboration of the public and private sector and led by the strong leadership of Mayor Vitali Klitschko. The members include: 

  • Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, Chief Rabbi of Kiev and Ukraine;
  • Joschka Fischer, the former Foreign Minister and  Vice Chancellor of Germany;
  • Michail Fridman, Co-Founder and Chairman, Alfa-Group Consortium, Co-Founder and Chairman, LetterOne investment holding, and philanthropist, Co-Founder Russian Jewish Congress and Genesis Philanthropy Group;
  • Pavel Fuks, Chairman, Babi Yar Memorial Foundation; and corporate leader;
  • German Khan, Co-Founder and a Member of the Supervisory Board, Alfa Group Consortium , LetterOne investment holding, Co-Founder Member of the Supervisory Board, the Russian Jewish Congress and Genesis Philanthropy Group;
  • Volodymyr Klitschko, former heavyweight boxer world champion, philanthropist and public figure; 
  • Alexander Kwasniewski, former President of Poland (1995-2005);
  • Joe Lieberman, former U.S. senator from Connecticut;
  • Victor Pinchuk, Ukrainian businessman and philanthropist,  Founder, EastOne and Victor Pinchuk Foundation;
  • Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Executive Board of the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI);
  • Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, artist, founder of the most successful Ukrainian rock band “Okean Elzy,” civic activist and opinion leader; Yale World Fellows 2015 Alumnae;

“Paying tribute to the memory of the Holocaust victims, all the Jews killed in different places of the former Soviet Union during Second World War, and commemorating those citizens of Ukraine and other nations, who were killed in this land, it is our responsibility to preserve the memory in respect to those who were shot and dropped into the ravine, dug and burnt in Babi Yar,” said Mr. Sharansky, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006. “If we permit ourselves to forget the horrors of the Holocaust and the reasons which brought it on, then we enable it to happen again. If we don’t acknowledge the horror of this event and what it led to for what it is, we tacitly give permission for such atrocities to happen again. We join the struggle against genocide, anti-Semitism, discrimination and other forms of aggression, which destroy a peaceful life.”

A ceremony at the Taras Shevchenko National Museum attended by 200 guests included officials, historians, educators, museum professionals, leaders of civil society, and members of the Initiative Group. The group signed a Declaration of Intent to create the Memorial Center.

The target date for the opening of the Memorial Center is 2021, and will coincide with the 80th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre. The donors of the Initiative Group will make substantial contributions to the financing the creation of the top level Holocaust Memorial center in Kyiv with a budget of dozens of millions of U.S. dollars, based on similar funds needed for the creation of memorial centers and international institutions in the United States and Europe. The Initiative Group also counts on the support of many contributors from all over the world.

In a film presentation that took place prior to the ceremonial signing, the words of a survivor, Galyna Kozyra, were heard (a quote taken from film): “There are few people like me still alive. It will not be long until we are gone and this will be forgotten once and for all. And in Kyiv, where all of this happened, there is still no Holocaust museum.”

“It is time for the people of Ukraine to pay tribute to the tragedy at Babi Yar and the suffering of the Jewish people, as well as other minorities and persecuted groups who met their deaths at the site,” said Vitali Klitschko, Mayor of Kyiv. “Encouraging education and reflection on the dark events of the Holocaust, including what happened here in Kyiv, is a step forward in our united global fight against the intolerable ideology of genocide.”

Recognized by historians as one of the first major steps in Hitler’s “final solution to the Jewish problem,” the mass murders at the Babi Yar ravine began on 29 September 1941 and continued into 1943. The goal of the Babi Yar Memorial Center is to honor the memory of all those who were killed by the Nazis at Babi Yar, to create awareness for the mass murder of Jews on the territory of Ukraine and the former Soviet Union which is not sufficiently understood worldwide, and to foster tolerance and openness through keeping history alive and teaching the lessons of the past. Despite the efforts of non-governmental organizations and political officials, previous initiatives to develop a Babi Yar memorial in Ukraine have faltered, hampered by the lack of awareness and understanding of the history of the Holocaust in Ukraine and other countries that were previously part of the Soviet Union. 

“European values today are based on ‘never again’ after the Holocaust,” said Mr. Pinchuk, “on the understanding that tolerance, rule of law and human rights must form the basis of our societies. People worldwide know that today Ukraine’s citizens are fighting for these values. But people don’t know sufficiently how much the tragedy of the Holocaust affected Ukraine, how much of Ukraine is a core part of this narrative. Addressing one’s history openly is at the core of modern European society. For all Jews who were killed in Ukraine by the Nazis, and for all Ukrainians who deserve a future in freedom, democracy, and a peaceful united Europe, we will finally build the memorial that should have been created long ago.”  

The vision of The Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial Center is to create a unique space that fosters international dialogue and consent, offers a platform for discussion of questions of tolerance, justice and respect, and builds mutual understanding among cultures. The initiative aims at bringing together and supporting all those who work for a memorial and museum at Babi Yar as a crucial missing part of Europe’s memorial landscape. The initiative strives to be completely transparent, open, inclusive and sustainable.

“The memory of Babi Yar is the cornerstone that will lead us to dialogue between nations,” said Svyatoslav Vakarchuk. “The Memorial that we create the basis for today has to become the center of our common understanding, and our common future. The Center must unite memory for all the victims of Babi Yar, Jewish, Roma, Ukrainian and other victims regardless of their blood or origin. I will do everything to make sure this Memorial will be completed and will operate with dignity. For the sake of the millions who died, for the sake of the thousands who survived, for the sake of the Jewish family which was saved by my great-grandmother, Ukrainian Evgenia Fedorivna Pastushenko.”

The Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman was also in attendance at the ceremony. In addition, several noteworthy individuals took part, including: Timothy D. Snyder, Bird White Housum Professor of History at Yale University, and author of Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (2015), which has received multiple distinctions including the award of the Dutch Auschwitz Committee; Ioan Mirca Pascu, Vice-President of the European; Mihnea Constantinescu, Chairman International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA; Dariusz Stola, Director, Museum Council for POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews; Paul Shapiro, Director, Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Joshua Spinner, Executive Vice-President and CEO, Lauder Foundation.

The Initiative Group will now work to establish a non-profit foundation to serve as the overarching organization responsible for building the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial Center. Among the first tasks to be accomplished by the Initiative Group will be to create a sustainable structure and plan for the development of the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial Centre, facilitate financing of the project, and establish partnerships with organizations and governments.

More information, including the movie featuring survivors shown at the Ceremony, video address of   Joe Lieberman, b-roll for TV news, and press releases in Ukrainian, Russian, German, French, Hebrew and Polish, as well as photos from the event is available via Google drive: bit.ly/babi-yar-press 

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SUPPPORTING QUOTES

“Even today as we solemnly acknowledge the 75th anniversary of the Nazis' barbaric acts at Babi Yar, we are faced to the world where intolerance, bigotry, hatred and even genocide still rear their horrific heads,” said former U. S. Senator Joe Lieberman. “It is up to each one of us to fight against such evil, to take concrete action to recognize the horrors of the past and the present, and to honour those dead by our memory and by what we do based on that memory. With the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial Center you will first pay tribute to the thousands of lives taken here and throughout the Holocaust but you will also teach our children and grandchildren about the truth of the Holocaust in the former Soviet Union.”

For General Information please contact Marek Siwiec, project coordinator: [email protected]

Media Inquiries should be sent to: [email protected]

The Official Website of the project: www.babiyar.org

The Official Facebook Page: fb.com/babiyar.memorial

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