A museum will be built in Ukraine next year to mark the 75th anniversary of one of the biggest single Holocaust massacres, the mayor of the Ukrainian capital announced last week.
“Since we understand that the world is very fragile, we must transfer to future generations the memory of the mistakes of humanity that must never, under any circumstances, be repeated,” said the Mayor of Kiev, Vitali Klitschko, whose grandmother was Jewish.
“One of the biggest components of that is the creation of a museum.”
More than 33,000 Jewish residents of Kiev were gunned down at the Babi Yar ravine in two days at the end of September 1941.
Babi Yar was also the execution site of Soviet prisoners of war, patients from the local psychiatric hospital, Christian orthodox priests, and thousands of gypsies. Altogether, it is estimated that there were 100,000 victims.
The museum, to be located at the Babi Yar site, will cover an area of 5,000 sq m, and will include a research institute. There will also be a memory square, located on the site of an old Jewish cemetery that was destroyed by the Nazis in 1941, an education centre and a wall of sculptures of Jewish victims, said Arkadiy Monastyrskiy, the president of Ukraine’s Jewish Fund.
A Jewish businessman contributed $10m towards the construction of the museum, according to Mr Monastyrskiy. However, more donors are needed because the total cost of the project is estimated at $30m-$40m, he said.
The area known as Babi Yar is currently a large, wooded park near a subway station, a popular place for parents taking an afternoon stroll with children.
There are at least three sculptures in the park – a menorah, a group of dolls with broken heads (to represent child victims), and a huge Soviet-era work showing people buried on top of people – but many locals do not know why the monuments are there.
The monuments have been vandalised six times in the last year alone – someone even set tyres on fire near the menorah. “It would have melted if the fire hadn’t been extinguished, because it’s made from bronze,” Mr Monastyrskiy said.
All the monuments at Babi Yar will be repaired for the 75th anniversary of the massacre in September, Mr Monastyrskiy said.