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US, Israeli officials commemorate Babi Yar massacre’s 80th anniversary

State Dept. spokesman says world must ‘counter the kind of hatred that led to the Holocaust’; Israeli envoy in Ukraine: ‘It is our responsibility to remember’

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)

American and Israeli officials on Wednesday honored the victims of the Babi Yar massacre (also sometimes spelled Babyn Yar), on the 80th anniversary of one of the largest mass murders of Jews in the Holocaust.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price tweeted: “As we mark the 80th anniversary of the massacre at Babyn Yar in Ukraine, we must redouble our efforts to counter the kind of hatred that led to the Holocaust. We honor all those lost at Babyn Yar and recommit to ensuring its full history is told. #NeverAgain #ProtectTheFacts.”

Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine, Michael Brodsky, tweeted a photo of himself at the memorial site near Kyiv, writing: “It is our responsibility to remember and to preserve the memory for future generations who did not get to meet the Holocaust survivors and hear their story.”

The Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum shared a link to a page with information on some of the victims of the massacre.

David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, shared a photo of the incident, adding: “We must never, ever, forget.”

On September 29-30, 1941 more than 33,000 people, most of them Jews, were killed at the Babi Yar ravine outside Nazi-occupied Kyiv, the capital of ex-Soviet Ukraine.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday visited the site of the massacre.

The tragedy of Babi Yar “should never be repeated,” Zelensky — who is himself Jewish — said at the flower-laying ceremony.

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)

“Not in Ukraine. Not anywhere else in Europe. Nowhere in the world,” he added.

Babi Yar was the scene of mass executions until 1943.

Up to 100,000 people were killed there, including Jews, Roma, and Soviet prisoners of war.

In May, the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center unveiled a symbolic wooden synagogue built in the shape of a book.

But its plans to build a further major memorial at the site have sparked controversy in Ukraine.

Critics accused Russian filmmaker Ilya Khrzhanovsky, artistic director of the center, of planning to turn the future complex into a “Holocaust Disneyland.”

He wanted to allow visitors to experience the massacre in the role of either victim or executioner.

Part of the Babi Yar ravine on the outskirts of Kiev, Ukraine where the advancing Red Army unearthed the bodies of 14,000 civilians killed by fleeing Nazis, 1944. (AP Photo)

Next week, Serbian performance artist Marina Abramovic is expected to unveil an installation at the site. The “Crystal Wailing Wall” will consist of 75 large quartz crystals embedded into a 40-meter-long (130-foot) wall of black anthracite.

More than 2,600 Ukrainians have been recognized as “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem for putting their lives in danger by saving Jews.

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