1. Babi Yar is a ravine in the northwest section of Kiev, the capital of the Soviet Ukraine. In the
early morning of June 22, 1941, armed forces of Germany invaded the USSR, and on September 16,
Kiev fell to German forces. About 100,000 Jews fled Kiev before the German occupation, leaving
around 60,000 remaining. Those who were unable to flee consisted of women, children, elderly and the
sick. Before evacuating the city, Soviet Security Services left explosives that destroyed German
headquarters and part of the city center. After a meeting, it was decided that the appropriate response to
this was to eliminate the remaining Jews of Kiev, although they had nothing to do with the explosions.
Beginning on September 29, the Jews of Kiev were marched and assembled to the ravine. Not
far from its edge, they were forced to strip naked and remove their valuables. They were marched to the
edge in groups of 10 where they were shot and fell into the Yar. An estimated 33,771 Jews were killed
in two days. Babi Yar continued to be an execution spot for many months. Jews from other parts of the
Ukraine were brought there for executions, as well as Roma, Gypsies, Communists and Soviet
prisoners of war. Soviet authorities estimated about 100,000 corpses lay across the bed of Babi Yar.
Beginning in July 1943, SS members were given the task to eliminate all evidence of the
massacre. 327 inmates of the Syretsk concentration camp, 100 whom were Jewish, were forced to
complete the task by exhuming, burning, and moving the corpses. With the help of land-moving
machinery, the task was completed in 6 weeks. The concentration camp inmates who carried out this
task were later executed by the SS, with the exception of the 15 whom escaped. The Soviet Army
finally liberated Kiev on November 6, 1943.
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