Ukrainian Jews remember WWII massacre

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Ukrainian Jews remember WWII massacre

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Events are being held across Ukraine to mark the 70th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre.

Nearly 34,000 Jews were killed on the 29th and 30th September 1941 when German forces rolled into the capital Kiev.

The massacre was to be a precursor to 24 months of ethnic purges by the Nazis in Ukraine.

A pre-war Jewish population of about 1.5 million was virtually wiped out and the story of Babi Yar remained untold in the Soviet Union until the 1960s.

At a memorial site for the victims, Raisa Maistrenko who was just three years old in 1941, described how she lost her entire family on her mother’s side in the mass-shooting.

“My grandmother held me tight and shouted I’m Russian, I’m Russian,” said the 73-year-old pensioner.

“Some Nazi collaborators approached us and said: ‘Why are you yelling? Everyone here is Jewish!’ and swung the stock of his gun and smashed my head. At that moment my grandmother covered me with her shoulder and we fell to the ground.”

Maistrenko, who was raised by her father’s parents, described how she and her family hid in the basement of their home during several SS raids that marked the two year German occupation.