«Jewish Observer»
July 2002
5762 Av

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Babiy Yar is not to become a construction site.

This is not only a place with a particular bioenergetics, specific aura or, as Lev Drobyazko puts it, an "Ulcer on the surface of the earth". This is common knowledge, in post-war years various construction plans and projects targeted at this place ended up in failures, at times even tragedies. This is not the only reason why nothing should be built in Babiy Yar. Babiy Yar and Auschwitz - these words and locations are forever coded in the historic memory of the Jewish people as symbols of Holocaust, killings and, what is more awful, humiliation of human's dignity of not just people, fellows-countrymen, women, elderly, children, but relatives, the nearest and dearest who will eternally live in our hearts and souls... That's why such places as Babiy Yar are not to be frequented!

I have been to Poland more than once. When you arrive at a bus stop in Auschwitz or read the inscription "Oshventzim" (Auschwitz) you immediately feel you are crashed, you no more exist. Other people may also feel the same arriving at Auschwitz. But all Jews are surely to. In 1974, when I was 6, my father took me to Babiy Yar for the first time. I then learnt my grandmother, mother's mother, and two my aunts - father's sisters - are forever there. Since then I find it very difficult to come to Babiy Yar. My son is already 11. I want to take him there, but my courage fails me. May be, this year we shall go. I don't know what I shall tell him...

Babiy Yar is not the place to be frequently attended, moreover, to come to work at a research center or even to attend a museum. I don't want even to mention other things. In my opinion, Ukraine, the Jewish community of Kiev and Ukraine on the whole need a true Museum of Holocaust together with a classical research and pedagogical Center or Institute.

World practice, God bless, had such precedents - Jerusalem, Warsaw, Washington, Berlin. This is important and should be done not only due to a geopolitical European situation, but, in the first turn, proceeding from the principles of preserving and conveying historic memory, principles of human morals. This construction should be built in the capital of Ukraine, but in other than Babiy Yar place.

Anatoly Podolsky,
director of Ukrainian center for Holocaust history studies,
candidate of historic sciences

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