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Russian bombing of Kyiv damages Babi Yar Holocaust memorial site

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

People light candles at Minora memorial in Kyiv, on September 29, 2021, on the 80th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre, one of the largest mass slaughters of Jews during World War II. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP)
People light candles at Minora memorial in Kyiv, on September 29, 2021, on the 80th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre, one of the largest mass slaughters of Jews during World War II. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP)

A major Holocaust memorial site in Kyiv was struck during Russia’s latest bombardment of the city, which targeted a television broadcast tower in the Ukrainian capital, the board of the site says.

The Babi Yar memorial rests on a mass grave containing 34,000 Jews who were slaughtered there in 1941 when the city was under Nazi occupation. The massacre was carried out by SS troops along with local collaborators.

“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin seeking to distort and manipulate the Holocaust to justify an illegal invasion of a sovereign democratic country is utterly abhorrent. It is symbolic that he starts attacking Kyiv by bombing the site of the Babi Yar, the biggest of Nazi massacres,” Natan Sharansky, the chairman of the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial Center and former head of the Jewish Agency, says in a statement.

Sharansky is referring to remarks by Putin ahead of the Russian invasion of Ukraine that he was doing so, in part, to “denazify” the country.

“We, at the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, built on Europe’s largest mass grave of the Holocaust, work to preserve historical memory following decades of Soviet suppression of historical truth, so that the evils of the past can never be repeated. We must not allow the truth to — once again — become the victim of war,” says Sharansky, who was born in Ukraine.

Earlier in the day, the Babi Yar Holocaust Memorial Center issued a statement heavily criticizing Putin and his invasion and calling for him to be investigated by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.

The Babi Yar site was damaged as Russian forces bombed a nearby television tower, knocking out local broadcasts.

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