Babi Yar

This past weekend I finally finished reading A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (decent book, a little too cutesy and some of the characters were too two dimensional, but I enjoyed it on the whole). In one passage in the book, a character makes reference to some streets in Kiev where people in their family lived before WWII. In conjunction with this reference was an side-note about how thier living at this location meant that they didn't have to walk very far when they were called to Babi Yar in September of '41.

This made me pause for a second, because I knew where those streets were (two metro stops from my apartment) but I had always thought that Babi Yar was a bit outside of town, because accounts of the massacre that I had read usually noted that Babi Yar was "northwest of Kiev."

So I pulled out a city map and did some orienteering. Sure enough, there was Babi Yar, sitting just north of the Dorohozhychi metro station. I decided to take advantage of the Monday holiday and check it out during what was a workday for everyone else in the city.

For a site where more than 30,000 people were executed in two days during WWII, there really isn't much to see. There is a plaza in the park where a memorial was erected about 10 years ago. And further in the woods there are a couple of crosses (pictured above) that were put up at the site where people were actually shot. Considering that the VAST majority of people murdered here Jewish, I found the crosses to be slightly unusual...but better than nothing, I guess.

But that's all there was to the place. It was a pretty nice park actually, very quiet, lots of people sitting out and picnicing, heavily wooded, and quite isolated from the urban grime that is downtown Kiev.