Today we are visiting Babi-Yar.
An excruciatingly painful part of the Holocaust for us, is the Einsatzgruppen. These were mobile executions squads, who followed the Wehrmacht (German army) into Eastern Europe and conducted a campaign to cleanse the region of undesirables. They made their victims assemble and then march to a secluded spot; a ravine, a wood, a field, they were then sometimes forced to undress and then shot. The video below is from Latvia and is very shocking but it is a visual of what the Einsatzgruppen did.
On the 28th of September, following an order from the Nazis, Kiev's Jewish people assembled in the centre of the city. They were marched to a ravine called Babi-Yar where they were beaten, terrorised, terrified by screaming guards and barking dogs and blows raining down on them from wherever they stepped. They were forced to undress and made to line up at the top of the ravine and they were shot. Just like that their lives were extinguished. In just two days 33,771 people were murdered.
Between 1941 and 1944 an estimated two million people were murdered in this way by just two thousand men. That statistic is staggering. We can't really get our heads around it, neither then numbers nor the abject terror that people must have experienced in their last moments of life.
Think about this event for a moment. Think about the mad panic, the complete confusion, the blind terror and the fear of being trapped like an animal. Think about the cold. Think about undressing in the cold. Think about the humiliation of standing in a field, naked, with 33,770 other people. Think about when it became 'your turn'. Think about the feeling of stepping up to the ravine knowing that with each breath you are being drawn closer to death. Think about the fact that this happened to millions of people. Think about this, and do not forget it.