Road to Babyn Yar: the path of Holocaust victims

Author : Vasylisa Ehorova

Source : 112 Ukraine

Find out the modern look of the route to Babyn Yar in Kyiv, passed by Jews in 1941
16:47, 29 September 2016

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These days, the whole world marks the 75th anniversary of the massacre, that took place in Ukraine’s capital. In the autumn of 1941, the German occupiers in Babyn Yar massively shot the Jews, the Roma, the mentally ill, and those categories Third Reich disliked. We have recalled the route to Babyn Yar, passed by Jews in 1941.

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In September 1941, soon after the beginning of the Nazi occupation of Kyiv, there were advertisements that all Jews must show up at 8 am on the 29th corner and Doktriyevska and Melnykova streets (now the corner of Melnykova and Dorogozhytska). The occupation administration ordered to bring documents, money, valuables, and warm clothes. Those who disobey the order, were threatened with execution.

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Sichovyh Striltsiv, Chornovola, and Hlybochytska streets


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Hlybochytska street


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The building of the Supreme Council of Justice

It like that the Jewish population of Kyiv and its suburbs was to be settled in the ghetto or taken away. And rabbis, previously captured by the Sonderkommandos, were convinced that the Jews after sanitation would be sent to safe places. There was some misinformation about the census of the Jewish population (in the early days of the occupation all the Kyiv citizens were forcefully registered). No one even could think that there would be mass executions.

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In fact, the death of the road started from the crossroad of modern Chornovola, and Hlybochytska streets. Now there is a Supreme Council of Justice. Three streams of people came here and passed through the "Artem" plant and modern metro station "Lukyanivska" in the direction of the Jewish cemetery. The people were walking talking quietly, trying to figure out the true reason of this strange gathering. Nobody knew this reason. One of the most common versions was moving to another place. Why the people were ordered to take their things with them? All items. Wealthy families were preparing so thoroughly that came loaded on carts.


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Crossroad of Melnykova and Dorogozhytska streets

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Kyiv Institute of International Relations

The first terrible conjectures appeared after coming to Dorogozhytska street. Modern landmark here is the Institute of International Relations. This street lied along two cemeteries: Lukyanivske (Orthodox) and the military one. On the right side of the modern Melnykova street there is an old Jewish cemetery. There were barbed wires, anti-tank "hedgehogs," and armed people. Small groups (30-40 people) were allowed behind the fence. Non of them returned back.

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However, according to eyewitnesses and survivors, at this stage, it was still possible to save the young children by quickly throwing them over the cemetery fence. Kyiv residents saw the empty carts and understood that something terrible was going on. That is why they were eager to hide the children in the crowd.

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The supermarket on the place of occupying Chancellery

Those who passed through the checkpoint, were sent to the Chancellery. The Jews had to leave all their things there – documents, jewelry, and belongings. They were ordered to remove the top clothes. They were sitting behind the garages of tank farms during the night and waiting for their fate to be shot to death, just like the others were shot to death during the first day of the massacre. Now there is a supermarket on that place.

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From this point began the most terrible part of the way to Babyn Yar. The naked people were witnessing how the German soldiers were sharing their things and then driven into the corridor between the two ranks of the Nazis with batons and dogs. The soldiers beat them and set dogs of those who tried to escape or bypass the terrible corridor. At the end of the corridor the beaten people were stripped naked. It became clear that there is no hope for salvation. The naked people were leaded to the ravines.

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Execution procedure looks like this: a person was leaded to the edge of the cliff, and on the opposite side of the ravine the Nazis fired from a machine gun. The dead and wounded were falling to the bottom of the ravine. From time to time, the shooting was stopped to check if there are any survivors. Those who still was alive, were beaten to death and all the corpses were covered with a thin layer of soil, and then the slaughter continued.

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The road of sorrow in Babyn Yar

In fact, it is impossible to ascertain all the places of the shootings, as well as to estimate the number of victims. City inevitably grew, and numerous houses, roads, and even subway station were built at the place of death of 200 thousand Kyiv Jews.

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"Babyn Yar" Memorial Park, apparently, covers only part of the territory of mass executions, and the monuments are placed on probation. For example, a large Soviet monument is put at the place where the first shootings took place on 29 September. No one knows the exact place where 752 patients of Kyiv Psychiatric Hospital named after Pavlov were shot. And the sorrow road from the building of the Kyiv television center  is rather conventional. A place where a cross, with the inscription "People were killed here in 1941," was chosen most likely due to the fact that it is on the edge of modern ravine. This produces a rather strong impression, if you remember the story of the brutal mass shooting that occurred in Kyiv in autumn 1941. But such episodes should not be forgotten.

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