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Posted January 8, 2003
This is a stunning eyewitness account of German atrocities committed in World-War-Two Kiev, Ukraine. The narrative is centered around Babi Yar, a natural ravine used by the Germans first to massacre the entire remaining Jewish population of Kiev, some 70,000 people in 3 days (Sep 29 to Oct 1, 1941), then, daily over the course of another two years, to exterminate another 200,000-250,000 people: mostly Russians and Ukrainians, as well as Gypcies and those rare Jews who had managed to survive in hiding up until then. Yet another 70,000 Soviet prisoners of war were purposefully starved to death nearby, in a camp across the river of Dnepr. (The figures are the author's estimates.) Countless thousands, perhaps even millions, of Ukrainian civilians were deported to Germany into slavery (following their "liberation", those few who had survived went on to Stalin's labor camps). The book also describes the Soviet atrocities committed in Ukraine, including the famine organized by Stalin in 1930's, which claimed some 7,000,000 Ukrainian lives, the blow-up of Khreschatik, Kiev's center, and Lavra, a millennium-old Christian temple in German-occupied Kiev, and the post-war anti-Semitic attempts to wipe Babi Yar out of History, complete with filling it up with dirt and building a highway and a residential neighborhood on the ashes and bones of the perished. This splendid and horrifying book was an eye-opener to me, even though, a Kiev Jew, I was growing up minutes away from Babi Yar (and, as I realize only now, having read the book, on the sight of Babi Yar's concentration camp, in that very Soviet-built residential neighborhood). My grandfather and the parents of my grandmother perished in Babi Yar.
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Posted January 29, 2009
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