|Kyiv 2000 Map
|Kyiv, September 1941
On 19/20 September 1941 Kyiv (Kiew)
was occupied by the
XXIXth German Army Corps and the 6th Army.
875,000 people lived in the city, of whom 20% were Jews (175,000).
Some factories important for military purposes and their workers, among them approximately 20,000-30,000 Jews
were evacuated by the Soviets. The exact number of evacuated Jews is unknown since no count was taken at that time.
Perhaps 130,000 Jews fell into Nazi hands. Any ordinary citizen had great difficulty in leaving the city because
of transportation restrictions.
The population remembered the last German occupation in 1918 and were convinced that the occupiers would act as expected:
in a civilized manner... It was anticipated that the Germans would restore the rights and property of the populace
abolished by the Soviets. The citizens of
Kiev were not aware of the risks involved in falling into German hands,
and could not imagine their ultimate fate.
|Pre-war Kreshchatik Street
Jews had already been persecuted and killed during the first days of the occupation. However, for reasons still unknown,
a ghetto was not established in Kyiv
On 24 September 1941
, and in the following days, several bombs were detonated in
), and destroyed some occupied buildings in the centre of the
town, including the army headquarters and the Hotel Continental, where German officers resided. Hundreds of German
soldiers and officers were killed. The resulting fire also destroyed some further buildings. These bombs had been
placed by a special command of NKVD agents who
intentionally remained in Kyiv
for this purpose.
Wehrmachtsgeneral Alfred Jodl
|Kreshchatik Street Ruins
in Sep/Oct 1941
testified at his trial in
"... hardly had we occupied the city when one tremendous explosion after another occurred.
The major part of the inner city burned down, 50,000 people were made homeless. German soldiers were used to fight
the flames, and suffered considerable losses, because further large amounts of explosives detonated during
At first, the local commander in Kyiv thought that it was sabotage on the part
of the population, but then we found a demolition chart, which had already been prepared a long time ago, listing 50
or 60 objectives in Kyiv for destruction.
This chart was, in fact, correct, as
investigation by engineers at once proved. At least 40 more objectives were
ready to be blown up; for the most part, remote control was to set off the explosion
by means of radio waves. I myself had the original of this demolition chart in my hands.
|Military Map 1943
in 1943 or later
German troops caught and executed a Jew on Kreshchatik Street
, when he
cut a water hose that was being used for fighting the fire. That may have been the excuse the Germans needed to
accuse the Kyiv
Jews of being responsible for the explosions. The German
military commander of Kyiv
, attended a meeting with the Höherer SS- und Polizeiführer
SS-Obergruppenführer Friedrich Jeckeln
, the commanding officer of
, and the commanding officer of Sonderkommando
SS-Standartenführer Paul Blobel
. They decided that the appropriate
response to this sabotage should
|1924 Physical Map of the Ravine
be the elimination of all Kyiv
Jews, carried out
4a, consisting of SD and Sipo members, the 3rd company of the Waffen-SS Batallion
zur besonderen Verfügung
, and a platoon of the 9. Polizeibatallion
. In addition Police Battalions
45 and 305 of the Polizeiregiment Süd
and some Ukrainian auxiliary police troops would reinforce this
|Babi Yar in 1943
A large ravine, called Babi Yar (Babi Jar / Ukr.: Babyn Jar), was chosen as the killing site. This ravine was located
at the edge of Kyiv
, around 10 km northwest of the centre of the city. Today it
lies within the city precincts.
On 28 September 1941
the German 637th propaganda
|1924 Map and 2000 Streets
company issued an announcement throughout Kyiv
by the printing office of the 6th Army, ordering the Jews to
assemble the next day (Monday, the 29th
/ Yom Kippur, at 8 a.m.) at
Lukianovska, Degtiarska, Lagerna
, and Melnikova
"All Jews living in the city of Kiew and its vicinity must come to the corner of
Melnikova and Dokhturovska* Street.
(* misspelled version of Dokhturova Street / today Degtiarivska Street) (near the cemeteries) by 8 o'clock on the
morning of Monday, September 29th 1941.
They are to bring with them documents, money, valuables, as well
as warm clothes, underwear etc. Any Jews not carrying out this instruction and who are found elsewhere will be
shot. Any civilian entering apartments left by the Jews and stealing property will be shot."
|Comparison of Maps
Thousands of Jews followed this order. In addition, to reinforce the propaganda, the Germans spread rumours that the
Jews would be resettled to labour camps. Since the assembling point was situated near the goods station
Jews believed the rumours.
Guarded by SS, SD and Ukrainian auxiliaries, the Jews were marched in groups of 100 via the
to the Jewish cemetery located near the ravine
called "Babi Yar". The entire surroundings of the ravine had been fenced in with barbed wire, and were cordoned off
by three rows of troops: The outer circle was manned by Ukrainian police, the second with Ukrainian police and
Germans, and the inner circle with Germans only.
At the killing site the Jews were ordered to undress, stack their belongings, and were then led in
groups of 10 to the edge of the ravine. There they were shot (by automatic guns and machine-guns) in front
of their fellow sufferers, who were unable to escape.
The witness Iryna Khoroshunova
, resident of
, stated in her diary entry for
29 September 1941
"We still don't know what they did to the Jews. There are terrifying rumours coming from the
Lukianovska Friedhof. But they are impossible to believe. They say the Jews are
being shot... Some people say the Jews are being shot with machine guns, all of them. Others say that 16 train
wagons have been prepared and that they will be sent away. Where to? Nobody knows. Only one thing seems clear: all
their documents, things, and food are confiscated. Then they are chased into Babi Yar and there... I don't know.
I only know one thing: there is something terrible, horrible going on,
something inconceivable, which cannot be understood, grasped or explained.
By 2 October
all doubts had disappeared:
"Everybody is saying now that the Jews are being murdered. No, they have been murdered already.
All of them, without exception - old people, women and children. Those who went home on Monday
(29 September) have also been shot. People say it in a way that does
not leave any doubt.
No trains left Lukianovska cemetery at all. People saw cars with warm shawls
and other things driving away from the cemetery. German "accuracy". They already sorted the loot!
A Russian girl accompanied her girlfriend to the cemetery, but crawled through the fence from the other side. She
saw how naked people were taken toward Babi Yar and heard shots from a machine gun. There are more and more rumours
and accounts. They are too monstrous to believe. But we are forced to believe them, for the shooting of the Jews
is a fact. A fact which is starting to drive us insane. It is impossible to live with this knowledge. The
women around us are crying. And we? We also cried on 29 September, when we
thought they were taken to a concentration camp. But now? Can we really cry? I am writing, but my
hair is standing on end.
More people than expected were brought to the site. According to a report from Einsatzgruppe
"...originally we estimated the arrival of only 5,000-6,000 Jews, but actually
about 30,000 Jews presented themselves, believing until the moment of liquidation that they would be resettled,
because of the great work of the propaganda section.
As a result the Germans could not kill all of the Jews immediately. The historian Felix
"The executioners did not have enough time to finish their job. Therefore they began to put
two people together, head by head, so that one bullet would kill two people. The wounded people were killed with
shovels. The children were thrown into the Yar alive and buried with them.
Sergey Ivanovich Lutsenko
, former guard of the
"They shot people from morning to night. At night the Germans went to sleep. The rest
of the victims were locked in empty garages. This continued for five days. The Nazis brought more and more people,
and from there only trucks with people's clothes returned.
The mass murder of Kyiv
Jews lasted until 3 October 1941
During the following months the ravine continued to be used as a killing site for Jews, Ukrainian
civilians, Soviet POWs and Roma and Sinti. According to Soviet sources 100,000-200,000 people were shot at
Babi Yar up until the time that the area was liberated by the Red Army on 6 November 1943
According to the "Operations Situation Report of Einsatzgruppe C
" of 7 October 1941
the Germans claimed that
had been shot in 1941
Some Ukrainian inhabitants denounced their Jewish neighbours, others offered hiding places. After the war the Sipo
and SD chief stated that his office in Kyiv
received baskets-full of
denunciations from Ukrainian citizens. His office had insufficient time to deal with all of this information.
the Jewish Board of the Ukraine has given the title "Righteous of Babi Yar"
to 431 gentiles who hid Jews and thereby saved them from being killed by the Nazis. This title was bestowed on all
family members alive at the time of the executions because all members of a family would have been shot by the
Germans if their aid had been discovered.
|The Ravine in 1941 #1
When the German troops retreated from Kyiv
it was determined that all remaining inhabitants should be sent to Germany. Witness
"... The troops began the roundup on the outskirts of the city, driving everyone out into the
streets - those who could walk and those who couldn't - prodding them with rifle butts, with blows or by firing in
the air. People were given only a few minutes to prepare. They were told that Kyiv
was to be evacuated to Germany; there would be no such city anymore.
It was dismayingly reminiscent of the procession of Jews in 1941. Masses of people
were on the move, including wailing children, the aged and sick.
on 8 November 1943
"The Germans attempted to drive away the entire population of the city. They rounded up the
inhabitants with dogs specially trained for hunting people... The Germans committed a mass murder of those people
that hid to avoid being sent to Germany... They succeeded in driving out a significant majority of the population.
Kyiv gives the impression of an extinct city.
|The Ravine in 1941 #2
In July 1943 Blobel
came back to
. Because of the approaching Red Army he was ordered to remove all traces
of mass murder in the East. In the Kyiv area
his units were assisted by
SS-Gruppenführer Max Thomas
, commander of the SD and Sipo
in the Ukraine.
established three special units from his
troops: Sonderkommando 1005 A and 1005 B
in the Ukraine,
and Sonderkommando 1005 Mitte
for the Minsk area
Around 18 August
the Sonderkommando 1005 A
started to exhume and
burn the corpses. This Sonderkommando
consisted of 8 - 10 SD men and 30 German policemen, commanded by
. Of course the Germans did not carry
out this work themselves. 327 inmates of the nearby
(among them 100 Jews) were forced to undertake this horrible task.
The prisoners completed this work within six weeks. Those sick or too slow were shot on the spot.
A German Schupo
"Every prisoner was shackled on both legs with a 2 - 4 m long chain... The piles of
corpses were not set on fire at regular intervals, but whenever one or more piles were ready, they were covered with
wood and soaked with oil and gasoline and then ignited.
, on 18 June 1947
"During my visit in August I myself witnessed the
burning of corpses in a mass grave near Kiew. This grave was approximately 55
metres long, 3 m wide and 2.5 m deep. After the cover had been removed, the corpses were covered with
inflammable materials and set on fire. About two days passed before the fire had burned down to the bottom of the
trench. Afterwards the grave was filled in and all traces thereby virtually obliterated. Because of the advance of
the front it was not possible to destroy the mass graves located in the South and East which had resulted from
execution by the task groups.
|Babi Yar Memorial Map
The corpses were cremated on funeral pyres, built on iron rails. Firewood was stacked, then the corpses were placed
on this petrol soaked material. When the pyres had burned down, the special command of prisoners had to collect the
remaining bones which were pulverized with tombstones from the Jewish cemetery. Finally the ashes were inspected
in order to collect any remaining silver and gold (these men were called "Goldsucher
" ("Gold diggers").
On 29 September
15 prisoners of the Sonderkommando
were able to escape; 312 of their
comrades were finally killed by the SS either during or on completion of the work. In
the remaining troops of Aktion 1005
were ordered to Kärnten
(Carinthia / Austria) to fight against Yugoslav partisans, under the name "Einsatzgruppe Iltis
", commanded by
|Babi Yar Today
For political reasons an official memorial was not built at the site until 1976
The first memorial did not mention
that most victims were Jews. It took a further 15 years before a new memorial (Menorah) was built which today
serves as a place for commemorative ceremonies.
The most impressive memorial, a symbolic one, is Yevgeny Yevtushenko
. This work of art was published in 1961
used the poem as part of his 13th Symphony, a powerful piece
of music that caused a sensation when premiered in 1962
Kyiv map: Based on www.inor.com.ua/map.html
Memorial Map: www.judaica.kiev.ua/
The Babi Yar Album
Khiterer, Victoria. Babi Yar, the Tragedy of Kiev's Jews
Gutman, Israel, ed. Encyclopedia of the Holocaust
, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1990
Ernst Klee. Willi Dreßen. "Gott mit uns" - Der deutsche Vernichtungskrieg im Osten 1939-1945
, S. Fischer
Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1989
*Special thanks to Chris Webb and Carmelo Lisciotto of the Holocaust
Education & Archive Research Team for the updating this page for greater
© ARC 2006