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Ukraine marks 80 years since Nazi massacre of Jews at Babi Yar

President Zelensky leads ceremony at ravine where 34,000 Jewish people were shot dead in 1941; all Ukrainian schools hold special lessons memorializing the slaughter

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attends a ceremony at the monument to Jewish victims of Nazi massacres in Ukraine's capital Kyiv, September 29, 2021.(Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attends a ceremony at the monument to Jewish victims of Nazi massacres in Ukraine's capital Kyiv, September 29, 2021.(Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine on Wednesday marked the 80th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre, one of the most infamous mass slaughters of World War II.

Babi Yar, a ravine in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, is where nearly 34,000 Jews were killed within 48 hours in 1941 when the city was under Nazi occupation. The killing was carried out by SS troops along with local collaborators.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky laid flowers at the monument of the victims of the massacre on Wednesday.

“Babi Yar. Two short words that sounds like two short gunshots, but carry long and horrid memories for several generations. Because they know and remember that not two gunshots sounded in Babi Yar, but hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands times more,” Zelensky said.

All Ukrainian schools on Wednesday held a lesson dedicated to the 80th anniversary of the tragedy.

“The Nazis in Babi Yar, according to various estimates, executed between 100,000 and 200,000 people. Aside from Jews, those were Ukrainians and Roma, prisoners of war and patients of a psychiatric hospital… Someone will hear these two scary words and these scary numbers for the first time,” Zelensky said.

This photo was taken from a the body of a dead Germany officer killed in Russia, showing a German firing squad shooting civilians in the back as they sit beside their own mass grave, in Babi Yar, Kiev, 1942. (AP Photo)

Ukraine has started the construction of a Babi Yar memorial complex and a museum at the site of the mass executions and plans to unveil it in 2025-2026.

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