babi yar 88.
(photo credit: jewishgen.org)
A memorial near the site where Nazis killed tens of thousands of Ukrainian Jews was badly vandalized over the weekend, a Jewish leader said Monday.
Ukraine's Jewish community condemned the damage as a disturbing act of anti-Semitism.
Unidentified vandals smashed the inscription plate on the menorah-shaped memorial, erected in 1991 by the Jewish community near the site of the World War II massacre.
In September 1941, Nazis marched tens of thousands of local Jews to the edge of the Babi Yar ravine and shot them.
More than 33,700 Jews were killed in a few days, and within months the toll is believed to have reached more than 100,000, including thousands of Red Army prisoners of war and resistance fighters.
"Police are saying they have no leads, except that they are classifying it as hooliganism - this was not mere hooliganism," said Volodymyr Kadman, spokesman for the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress. He noted that the vandals would have had to come prepared to break the glass covering the inscription plate.
Vadym Rabynovych, head of the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress, appealed to authorities to provide 24-hour security for the site. But Kadman said the Jewish community had received no response and was not going to wait. Rabynovych called a special meeting to discuss organizing security on their own and setting up security cameras to monitor the memorial.
Kiev police officials could not immediately be reached to comment.
President Viktor Yushchenko has announced tentative plans for a high-profile service this September to remember Babi Yar victims, inviting numerous heads of state, including US President George W. Bush. Ukrainian Jews have welcomed the plans, but said the government needs to do more to combat anti-Semitism after some high profile attacks on Jews last year.