Sunday, 28 Feb 2021 - 16 of Adar, 5781

Plans unveiled for one of world’s largest Holocaust memorial centers at Baby Yar, Ukraine

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Ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Baby Yar Holocaust Memorial Center unveiled its plans for constructing one of the world’s largest Holocaust memorial centers.

The complex will be built at Baby Yar, over an area of 150 hectares. It will include a dozen buildings in memory of the Jewish and non-Jewish victims of the Baby Yar massacre and the estimated 1.5 million Jews murdered in similar Nazi mass shootings across Ukraine and Eastern Europe.

The buildings which will be erected as part of the complex include: A museum to commemorate the Babyn Yar massacre; a museum to commemorate the Holocaust of Ukrainian and Eastern European Jewry as a whole; a structure depicting the names of the victims; a religious/spiritual center including a synagogue, church and mosque; an educational and scientific research center; a multi-media center; a learning and recreational space for children; an information and conference center and more.

The very first synagogue at the site, plus an additional exhibition space are scheduled to be completed this year, ahead of the eightieth anniversary of the Baby Yar massacre, which will be commemorated in September.

The artistic concept for the museum complex is being formulated by Ilya Khrzhanovsky, BYHMC’s Artistic Director, in cooperation with international experts in museum development.

Underscoring the need for such a memorial, a recent survey in Ukraine, conducted to coincide with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, revealed that 68 per cent of respondents believe the memory of twentieth century genocides such as the Holocaust is fading. Meanwhile, just 16 per cent of respondents knew that more than one million Jews were shot dead near their homes during the Holocaust.

The Artistic Director of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, Ilya Khrzhanovsky,who constructed the concept together with a team of international experts, discussed the vision of establishing a museum complex at Babyn Yar:

“The decision to establish a museum complex expanding across the entire territory where one of the greatest tragedies of the Holocaust took place, was taken in order to build a place of commemoration and learning, of observation and doubt,’’ said Ilya Khrzhanovsky, Artistic Director of the Baby Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, who constructed the concept together with a team of international experts.

‘’It will transform a place of killing and destruction into a sacred space.  It is designed in a way that everyone can connect to a life that was and is no longer. The construction of this complex will keep the story of the Jews of Ukraine and Eastern Europe alive,’’ he added.

Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Baby Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, who was born in the Ukraine, noted that he knew nothing about the Baby Yar massacre during his childhood, due to the Soviet policy of suppressing memory of the tragedy after the Second World War.

He said that the establishment of the center is essential for Holocaust remembrance: “The concept which was presented is both very interesting and amazing. It demonstrates how the museum and educational center will not only both be high quality, but at the same time different from many other Holocaust centers. As such, it will help fill a vacuum in the field of Holocaust studies.”

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