«Jewish Observer»
July 2002
5762 Av

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I remember after my father's death I was taken to the Lukyanovka cemetery for the first time to see my grandfather's grave. My mother, being an absolutely assimilated secular person, strictly observed Jewish laws concerning attending a cemetery. There was a big white stone on the grave. Russian-language lines informed about the life-and-death facts of my grandfather, grandmother who had died in Babiy Yar and mother's younger sister Asya killed in 1941 on the front-line while defending Moscow. It was a sacred place for the Bekkers attended by three children residing in Kiev and four ones arriving from Moscow.

I also remember when construction works began in Syrets. My family, which had greatly suffered from the Soviet power (three of eight mother's brothers and sisters had been imprisoned in Stalin's camps over many years), regarded the installation of hydropumps and aspiration to fill Babiy Yar as another crime and manifestation of anti-Semitism. I remember well that day when sludge broke through and flooded a huge space on the boundary of Syrets and Kurenyovka and part of the latter. We were sitting in one of classrooms of KPI and awaiting our beloved lecturer of English who for several hours on end had been wandering in mud about a hit territory looking for her son (fortunately, she found him alive). Much was then talked in Kiev about the tragedy as a punishment for the authorities' striving to wipe off the memory of Jews killed in Babiy Yar.

I also remember they did began constructing a TV-tower in Syrets liquidating a Jewish part of Lukyanovka's cemetery. That was another manifestation of inhumanity, in general, and anti - Semitism, in particular. I remember how the Jews warmly welcomed the article by Victor Nekrasov on Babiy Yar, Yevtushenko's verse, meetings in Babiy Yar (my mother always feared the Soviet power and entreated me not to attend them).

I remember an epic of discussing exhibited projects of a monument in Babiy Yar. The authorities neglected talented and impressive projects and decided on a featureless monument having nothing to do with the tragedy of mass extermination of Jews by fascists.

These are the events and experiences of my life. They will remain about me till my final hours.

Can Jews really debate an opportunity to construct anything in the zone of Babiy Yar? 200 or 700 m away from the boundary of... what? From the place filled with falling corpses? Or from the place fascists hit those lagging behind a mob with butt-stocks on the heads? Or from the place babies were snatched from the hands of their mothers? Or from where Germans simply mocked over "Yids" breathing away last minutes of their lives?

To think and speak about this is terrible. I have recently been processing data on Jewish burial places on the territory of Ukraine and came across an entry, "Settlement Buky Mankovsky district Cherkassy region. The locals attest Sonya Shwartzburd was over several days lying in the place of war mass shootings where the authorities planned to start a construction".

Are solely such actions able to stop blasphemous intentions being put to life?


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