Yad Vashem may help in construction of Kiev Holocaust museum

Ukrainians have previously come under fire for ‘whitewashing’ Babi Yar plans.

February 18, 2016 04:18
2 minute read.
Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko pays visit to Babi Yar, Kiev. (photo credit: UKRAINE EMBASSY TEL AVIV)


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Yad Vashem is considering partnering with the Kiev Municipality to build the Ukrainian capital’s first Holocaust museum at Babi Yar, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The announcement that Israel’s state Holocaust memorial is engaged in talks regarding the site, at which more than 33,000 Jews were murdered during a two-day period in 1941, came a week after Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev met with Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko in Jerusalem.

The Ukrainians initially approached Yad Vashem in December regarding the project. Klitschko was later quoted as saying was intended to be completed to mark the 75th anniversary of the killings.

At the meeting, representatives of the Babi Yar Foundation explained that “the museum will tell the story of the Jews murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators at Babi Yar,” Yad Vashem said in response to a query by the Post on Wednesday.

Shalev agreed that it was necessary to erect such a memorial and indicated that “Yad Vashem is willing to cooperate with the city of Kiev for that purpose,” with further contacts planned soon to discuss such cooperation.

“We value your [Yad Vashem] experience...

your methodologies and academic research, as well as the evidence that you have collected from around the world over the decades,” Klitschk was quoted as saying.

The Ukrainian government recently came under intense criticism from Jewish organizations, including Yad Vashem, after the announcement of a state–backed design competition calling for architectural proposals to resolve what it sees as a “problem” of “discrepancy between the world’s view and Jewry’s exclusive view of Babi Yar as a symbol of the Holocaust.”

Organized by the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter, a Canadian NGO, and supported by the “National Organizing Committee on preparation and holding of events in connection with 75th anniversary of the Babi Yar tragedy” and the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance, the contest rules recommended that submitted designs “minimize emphasized use of national, religious or political symbols.”

The organizers also lamented what they termed the “rivalry and struggle among various community organizations that vie with one another for the right to memorialize ‘their’ tragedies.”

That text was removed last week and replaced with new language acknowledging Babi Yar as “a symbol of the Holocaust” and “Nazi Germany’s ambition to destroy all Jews throughout the world, a unique atrocity in human history.”

Representatives of the committee arranging the 75th anniversary commemoration also proposed to erect an “Alley of the Righteous Among the Nations,” to honor non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews.

However, since Yad Vashem has only recognized 100 such people from Kiev, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk instructed Ukrainian historian Volodymyr Viatrovych to “create our own Ukrainian standards [and] criteria for righteous of the world in order to enlarge this number,” a prominent Jewish member told the Post.

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