Ukraine has been marking the 65th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre, when more than 30,000 Jews were shot by the Nazis. The two day slaughter of men, women and children is one of Word War Two’s most notorious episodes. Men, women and children were shot indiscriminately and then tossed into a ravine now in the suburbs of Kiev. The killings began ten days after German forces occupied Ukraine’s capital.
The commemoration was led by Ukraine’s President, Victor Yushenko, whose father was imprisoned at the Auschwitz concentration camp during the war. The Israeli President, Moshe Katsav, also laid a wreath and read a prayer.
Historians say the choice of Kiev as a killing ground was logical for the Nazis as their troops swept towards Moscow, Leningrad and the war’s big turning point at Stalingrad. In Soviet times there were no high profile ceremonies to officially mark the massacre. It was only in the early 1990s, after the collapse of the USSR, that a monument was put up to remember the Jewish victims.