The International School for Holocaust Studies
From a Report by Einsatzgruppen on the Extermination of the Jews in the Ukraine, October 1941
Operations and Situation Report No. 6 by the Einsatzgruppen
of the Security Police and SD in the U.S.S.R.
(for the period October 1-31, 1941)
The bitter hostility of the Ukrainian population against the Jews is extremely great, because it is thought that they were responsible for the explosions in Kiev. They are also seen as NKVD informers and agents, who unleashed the terror against the Ukrainian people. All Jews were arrested in retaliation for the arson in Kiev, and altogether 33,771 Jews were executed on September 29th and 30th. Gold, valuables and clothing were collected and put at the disposal of the National-Socialist Welfare Association (NSV), for the equipment of the Volksdeutsche, and part given to the appointed city administration for distribution to the needy population.
Yitshak Arad, Yisrael Gutman, Abraham Margaliot, eds., Documents on the Holocaust, Jerusalem, 1981, p. 416
From an excerpt from the Activity Report of the 454th Security Division for the period of October 1-10, 1941
...The total population [of Kiev] is [now] estimated at about half of its normal size, that is about 400,000 people. The Jews of the city were ordered to present themselves at a specified place and time for the purpose of their numerical registration and [subsequent] housing in a camp. About 34,000 [Jews], including women and children, reported [as ordered]. After they had been made to hand over their clothing and valuables, they were all killed; this took several days…
Trials of War Criminals before the Nurermberg Military Tribunals, Green Series, Washington, 1951, vol. X, p. 1258.
From Report No.1 of the Central Staff of the Partisan Movement, October 10, 1942
…During the first days of the occupation in Kiev at the Jewish cemetery the Germans shot 40,000 Jews. The adults were shot with machine-guns, while the children and elderly were thrown alive into the “Babi Yar” [Ravine]
TsGAOOU 62-1-210, copy YVA M.37/422
From Jewish Telegraph Agency Daily Bulletin, November 16, 1941
Fifty-two thousand Jews, including men, women and children, were systematically and methodically put to death in Kiev following the Nazi occupation of the Ukrainian capital, according to information received today by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency from an unimpeachable source. The details available here establish that the victims did not lose their lives as the result of a mob pogrom, but by systematic, merciless execution carried out in accordance with the cold-blooded Nazi policy of Jewish extermination. Similar measures, though on a smaller scale, have been taken in other conquered towns. Information available in diplomatic quarters here reveals that deportations of Jews to Poland from Germany and German-occupied territories continue, resulting in mass suicides of German Jews. In Berlin alone 250 Jews committed suicide in one day after receiving deportation notices. The deportees are told that they can take with them 100 marks each, but at the railway station they are ordered to pay 90 marks for transportation and are thus left with ten marks, which is approximately $4.00.
TASS Communique from New York, November 18, 1941
As reports a correspondent from the Overseas News Agency from a location in Europe, information has been received from trustworthy sources that in Kiev the Germans killed 52,000 Jews – men, women, and children.
Pravda, November 19, 1941, p. 4.
Report of Soviet partisan Aleksei Popov about Babi Yar, December 4, 1941
I was told by a prisoner who fled from another camp, and was on his way home, that the Germans also forced [prisoners] from their camp to bury Jews and that when they were herded to a field [and] into an anti-tank ditch, at least seven hundred half-naked and beaten Jews of all ages were standing there. The Germans warned the prisoners that they would shoot the Jews in the ditch and that if any prisoner got scared, he would also be shot, and then they began with the execution. They shot as follows: Jews are standing over the ditch in a line, men, women and children. The Germans count off about fifty and force them to lie in the ditch with their faces down. Those with submachine guns shoot them.
Having shot one group, they leave the ditch and begin drinking wine and force the prisoners to cover the corpses with soil, even though the corpses are still moving. Having thus covered the corpses with a thin layer of soil, the Germans count off a second group of Jews and also place them on the corpses with their faces down. In this way, they shot all the Jews. From one group that had already been shot and covered with soil, a boy of about age twelve arose, all covered in blood. He wiped the dirt and blood from his eyes and screamed, "Uncle, I am not a Jew, don't kill me". The German saw him, jumped over to him with his submachine gun, and shot the boy in the face.
From Karel C. Berkhoff, "'The Corpses in the Ravine Were Women, Men and Children'": Written Testimonies from 1941 on the Babi Yar Massacre," Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Vol. 29. No. 3, Winter 2015, p. 260.
Communique of People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs Viacheslav Molotov to Ambassadors of Foreign Countries "About the widespread looting, the despoliation of the population, and the terrible atrocities committed by the German authorities on the Soviet territories that they occupied," January 6, 1942
Horrible slaughter and pogroms were committed by the German invaders in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. In only a few days the German bandits killed and tortured 52,000 men, women, old men [i.e. people], and children, mercilessly dealing with all Ukrainians, Russians, and Jews who in any manner displayed their loyalty to the Soviet government. Soviet civilians who have escaped from Kiev describe the astounding picture of these mass executions. : . A large number of Jews, including women and children, were assembled t ogether in the Jewish cemetery. Before [the] shooting, all of them werestripped naked and beaten up. The first group selected for shooting were made to lie down at the bottom of a ditch [ravine?], face to the ground, and were shot with automatic rifles. The Germans slighted with earth covered over the victims and then the second party of Jews were made to lie down and were shot with automatic rifles….
The Molotov Notes on German Atrocities, London, His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1942, p. 14.
From the Report of the Polish Home Army to the Polish Government-in-Exile regarding mass murders of Jews on Polish, Belorussian, and Ukrainian territories, early 1942
...During our stay in Kiev SS detachments carried out a bloody massacre of Jews. All the Jews, and there were still about 70,000 of them in Kiev, mostly women, elderly and children, were shot by machine-guns in the pits which they themselves had dug....
Susanne Heim, Ulrich Herbert, Michael Hollmann, Horst Möller, Dieter Pohl, Simone Walther, Andreas Wirsching,eds., Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der europäischen Juden durch das nationalsozialistische Deutschland 1933-1945, Berlin/Boston, 2016, vol. 8, p. 227.
From the Report of D.I. Volevich to the organization department of the Kiev city committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, 1942/1943
…On September 28  the Jews were allowed to enter their apartments to prepare [supposedly, for their resettlement]. On September 29, 1941 from about 7-8 a.m. the Jews started to pass through the Jewish market along Dmitrievskaya Street. They were going individually, in families, and in crowds. They carried their belongings with them. They were going with their small children. They were accompanied by many Russians [and] Ukrainians, who helped them to carry their belongings. I was told by many people about the procession to the cemetery. I got the impression that very many of them scarecly imagined that they were going to be shot. Generally, in my opinion, the [non-Jewish] population [also] did not believe that the Jews would be shot. I personally was sure they were going to be sent across the frontlines…
Almost all the Jews to whom I spole responded positively, without animosity, asking me…to help them to carry [their belongings]. There were also people who looked at me with hatred and did not reply. Crowds of people were standing on Dmitrievskaya Street and watching this sad procession. Germans in brown uniforms stood with the people, in front of them. There were few of them. It was said that many Ukrainian relatives and acquaintancess accompanied [the Jews] to the cemetery: there was one place which once you passed it you could not go back. People said that many Ukrainians and Russians who accompanied [the Jews] perished at the cemetery. For example, it was said that about 25 Ukrainian girls who had their passports taken from them were among the first to be shot. It was [also] said that [first] people were forced to strip and, after their clothes and the belongings were put aside, they [the Jews] were shot near pits that had been dug there. Their passports were taken away and their belongings were sorted right there on the spot. Their gold and valuables were put into washtubs. All that day, indeed, machine-gun fire was heard…
TsGAOOU 1-22-297, copy YVA M.37/36
From the article “So it was in Kiev…”, by Evgeny Kriger, military correspondent of "Izvestiya," November 16, 1943
…It is the same Lvov Street.
-I was here on September 29, 1941, says Dmitri Orlov, several days after the Germans entered Kiev. Crowds of people walked in an uninterrupted stream along Lvov Street while German patrols lined the pavements. So many people were moving, from early morning until late at night, along the road that it was difficult to cross Lvov Street. I came there the next day and the people were still moving and this lasted for three days and three nights. The Germans drove the Jews to Babi Yar. Beyond Lvov Street Melnikov Street starts and they walked there and then there was a deserted road and bare hills and beyond them there were deep ravines with steep slopes, Babi Yar. Something drew me there and I went and saw everything from the side of the cable factory. I held out for ten minutes and then everything went dark in my head. The Germans were forcing the people to strip naked. Then they collected their outer garments, put them in an orderly manner onto trucks, and sent them to the train station warehouses. They collected underwear too, sent it to the laundry, washed it, and sent it to the warehouses. Everything from Babi Yar was sent to Germany. The naked people - there were both women and men - had the rings torn from their fingers. Afterwards these people, shaking from the cold or from the imminence of death, were placed at the edge of the ravine, where they were shot and then fell down. Small children were not touched by bullets but were pushed down alive [into the ravine]. Those awaiting their turn either stood in silence or sang or laughed silently. I understood that those who were laughing had lost their minds. I myself left there half of my mind. All this lasted for three days - people went along Lvov Street to their death. All those who had not yet been driven [there] knew what awaited them and were prepared for it. The old people put on black garments, gathered in their houses for prayer, and then went to Lvov Street. The infirm were carried under their arms, while others were carried on peoples' shoulders. All of them were murdered….
GARF 7021-148-398, copy YVA JM/21909
From the Testimony of Viktor T [rill], former driver of Sonderkommando 4a of Einsatzgruppe C
May 26, 1944
When we arrived in Kiev-I was then a member of the main force [of Sonderkommando 4a]- I had to take part in a large-scale shooting of Jews there…
A few days after our arrival in Kiev a detachment of about 20 men from Poltava was formed there…I too was assigned to this detachment…We stayed only for a short time in Poltava and then we drivers were ordered to bring our damaged vehicles for repairs to SK [Sonderkommando]4a [headquarters] in Kiev. There were three of us drivers who went to Kiev…I think we arrived there in the evening. There we encountered B[lobel], who said to us drivers: “Early tomorrow you too will take part”…B[lobel] left it unclear in what way we would take part. Very early the next morning we squad members were loaded onto a truck and driven to an area outside of Kiev. I myself did not have to drive that day. The ride probably lasted half an hour. At the place where we stopped a huge mountain of clothing attracted my attention. After we got out of the truck, we first were given some alcohol. It was either grog or rum. Then I saw a huge ditch that looked like a dried riverbed. There were already many layers of bodies in it. At one place a wooden bridge spanned the ditch. The executions started with several of the members of our squad going down into the ditch. At the same time about 20 Jews were brought via a connecting path. Other members of the security police were stationed at the ditch and were occupied solely with filling the magazines of submachine-guns with ammunition. The Jews had to lie down on top of the bodies and were then shot in the back of the head. More and more Jews were continuing to brought to be shot. The marksmen then climbed out of the ditch and then other groups of members of the security police, including me, descended into the ditch. I then had to act as a marksman for about 10 minutes, having to personally shoot 30 to 50 Jews during that time. I remember that men and women of various ages were shot. I do not know for sure anymore whether there were any children among them. It could be that there were mothers who were holding children in their arms. Most of the Jews were naked. A few were still in their underwear. I believe the shooting on that day lasted until about 3 p.m. Afterwards we returned to our quarters and had lunch.
During the shooting on that day I had to be act as a marksman for a total of five or six times, each time for 10 minutes. I may have personally shot between 150 and 250 Jews on that day. All of the shooting proceeded smoothly. The Jews surrendered to their fate like lambs.
From the Letter to the ChGK from the Painter Nikolai Prakhov, “What happened in Kiev under the Germans”
…The greatest crime committed by the Germans was the mass shooting of the Jewish population of the city of Kiev on September 29, 1941.
On the eve of that day gray posters were hung up throughout the city…
“All the kikes of the city of Kiev and of its surroundings are to come on Monday, September 29, 1941 at 8 a.m. to the corner of Melnik and Dokterivskaya Streets (near the cemeteries). They should bring with them their documents, money, and valuables, as well as warm clothes, linen, etc.
Any kike who does not obey this order and is found in another place will be shot.
Any citizen who enters an apartment left by the kikes and appropriates their belongings will be shot”…
Since rail lines (the so-called Petrovskaya line) passed by the place designated as the gathering point, which is where people boarded the train during the Soviet evacuation of Kiev, many Jews thought that they were being collected for evacuation to some concentration camp in Germany and that was why the order required them to take linen and warm clothes…
In our building, in apartment no. 13, there lived a Jewish family, the Polyaks, consisting of a father and two adult daughters who [all] did not manage to leave in time. The father wrung his hands in desperation, [saying] that he had doomed his children. A poor old Jew lived in the courtyard near the back entrance to the dining room; he was proud that his adult son was sending him 25 rubles every month from Leningrad. He was taken to Lukyanovka by the horse of the boiler-man Comrade Markov, who said the following: “When we approached the assigned place, it turned out that there was a fence behind which a German guard stood. The old man, who spoke poor German, asked him something, but he did not reply. When the old man repeated his question, the German hit him over the head with his rifle-butt and killed him on the spot”…
The citizenness [i.e., civilian] Lidia Viktorovna Nepadkevich (the wife of a lawyer), who was living at number 17 Podvalnaya Street, said that she went to see a neighbor, without suspecting anything bad. The guard to whom she showed her identity card was standing at the first fence and let them all in. Further on a German officer was standing. After bidding farewell to her neighbor, citizenness Nepadkevich wanted to return home but the German barred her way, [saying]: “Since you came here, you are not going to leave.”. At that moment a large group of Jews arrived and, taking advantage of the fact that the officer rushed toward them, citizenness Nepadkevich headed for the exit. The first guard standing there apparently recognized her and, winking to her, pointed toward the exit.
Afterwards people in the city said that all the Jews who had been collected in one place were stripped to their shirts, and that all of the 70,000 people according to one version), or 80,000 (according to another [sic, the total number of murder victims on September 29-30, 1941 was about 30,000] were driven to “Babi Yar” [ravine],where they were shot in a crossfire from machine- and submachine-guns. There were Ukrainians and Russians who died with the Jews. There were many mixed marriages in Kiev, [and] the husbands did not want to leave their Jewish wives and wives their [Jewish] husbands. After the shooting the Germans brought prisoners of war, who were forced to dig trenches and bury the bodies. It was said that some of the bodies were buried using explosives [after the massacre a German combat-engineering unit blew up the ravine]…Only a few people managed to escape. I know that one man covered in blood entered the courtyard of the house no. 69 on Dorogozhintskaya (Melnik) Street, on the first floor of which the dentist Dina Fedorovna (I do not remember her last name but all of Lukyanovka knows her first name and her patronymic) was living and she happened to be home at that time. It turned out that the man covered in blood was a Jew. He asked for water to wash himself and immediately left, saying “I was not here. You did not see me”…
From the Testimony of Leonid Ostrovskiy, who was born in 1913
The following report of the ChGK from November 12, 1943 contains a description of the mass murder of the Jews in Kiev:
…I stayed for 8 days in a camp on Kerosinnaya Street. At first I was with about 8,000 prisoners of war of different ethnic origins-Ukrainians, Russians, and others, and after two days I was transferred to the part of the same camp where there were about 3,000 prisoners of war and civilians - solely from among the Jewish population…
From September 28, 1941 and until the moment I [left] the camp all the Jews held there below the age of 16 and above 35 were every day loaded onto trucks and taken out of the camp. Soon the same trucks returned to the camp without the people but only with their clothes, which were then stored in separate rooms. That is the way those who remained in the camp learned that all those who had been taken away by truck were not taken to work, as the Germans had originally claimed, but to be shot. Later this assumption was confirmed by newcomers to the camp, who maintained that all the Jews were taken from the camp to Babi Yar and shot there….
From the Testimony of Vladimir Davydov, who was born in 1915
The following report of the ChGK from November 9, 1943 contains a description of the mass murder of the Jews in Kiev:
…During the process of burning the bodies of those shot in 1941 in Babi Yar when we were working there, a "black maria” from the SD brought the bodies of people who had been gassed to death.
This took place as follows:
A death van, inside of which the voices of still living people could be heard, arrived at Babi Yar early in the morning. Then the van stopped, its engine was switched on again, and also some switch was turned on. After that the heart-rending crying of women, children, and elderly people could be heard inside the van. Apparently the exhaust gases entered [the van] and the people were starting to suffocate. After about 15 minutes all was quiet, the doors of the black maria were opened, and a terrible scene became visible.
Between 40 and 50 naked people age 1 to 70, still very hot and wet, were in a sitting position in the van. This sight recalled people sitting in a bathhouse. All of them had their eyes open and their faces clearly expressed horror.
We were forced to enter the van, to throw down the bodies of those just killed, and to place them in piles to be burned. Some of these people were still half alive.
At first the black maria arrived twice a week. Each van could hold 50 people. Each time 50 people were taken and there were 2-3 trips a day; later, when Germans started to retreat from Kiev, the van made 8-10 trips a day….
From the Report about the work of Communist clandestine organizations in Kiev during the German occupation, 1946
…On September 28, 1941 an order of the field commandant’s office was posted throughout the city [which read]: “All the Jews of the city of Kiev and of its surroundings are to come by 8 a.m. on September 29 to Melnik Street, taking with them valuables, warm clothes, and linen. Whoever does not come will be shot”.
At this time the Germans, assisted by their henchmen, Ukrainian-German fascists, spread the rumor that the Jewish population would be resettled somewhere.
From dawn on September 29 tens of thousands of people were moving along Artyom and Melnik Streets through Lukyanovka toward Babi Yar. After lining up people in groups of 100, the Germans brought the people to a precipice and, after placing them at the edge of the ravine, shot them from submachine- and machine-guns. From that day on, from morning to evening, peaceful, completely innocent Soviet civilians were shot there systematically. The doomed ones were forced into empty barns for the night and then, at dawn, the bloody massacre started again.
The bloody massacre of Jews lasted for five days.
The elderly, women, [and] children were driven to Babi Yar and the large covered trucks returned only with their belongings. Trucks left every five minutes. The bodies were thrown into the ravine and in the evenings the slopes of the ravine were blown up with dynamite to cover over the bodies of the dead and wounded…
TsGAOOU 1-22-281, copy YVA M.37/35
From the indictment of Erich Ehrlinger and other former high-ranking Security Police officers
November 2, 1960
…Even though Einsatzkommando [sic, for Sonderkommando] 4a immediately after the occupation of Kiev…on September 29 and 30 shot 33,771 Jews in the Babi Yar Ravine near Kiev and although Einsatzkommando 5, as late as the winter of 1941/1942, carried out executions of hundreds of Jews, there were still many Jews living in hiding in the Kiev metropolitan area. Loads of denunciations [revealing the location] of hidden Jews by the Ukrainian population hostilely disposed toward the Jews arrived at the office of the commander of the Security Police [of Kiev]. The number of denunciations was so large that the office was unable to process them all due to the lack of personnel. Simultaneously, various Wehrmacht, civil, and police officers brought arrested Jews, together with their family members, to the office of the commander of the Security Police and then delivered them to prison. There only the personal data of the Jews was recorded and the clerks, all of them SS NCOs or ethnic German translators, attached the obligatory “recommendation for special treatment.” These files, together with the investigation proceedings against saboteurs and enemy agents, were submitted to Dr. Schumacher [the acting chief of the Security Police and the SD in Kiev], who decided about executions and issued orders for carrying out executions. Dr. Schumacher had a “gas van” at his disposal for killing these people. This was a box-type truck shaped like a small furniture truck that was hermetically closed. It was possible to divert the engine exhausts into the truck’s interior via a pipe. This led in a few minutes to the death of the people locked up in the truck. Each time, early in the morning, the Jews with their families, together with Communists, saboteurs, enemy agents, etc., who were [all] doomed to death, were forced into this gas van at the prison. They were fully dressed and were allowed to take their personal belongings. Dr. Schumacher ordered them to be told that they were going to be driven to work outside Kiev. Therefore, the prisoners entered the death truck blissfully ignorant [of the fate awaiting them]. Initially, Dr. Schumacher tried to exclude Jewish children from the killing and to accommodate them somehow, via the mediation of Ukrainian officials.
[However,] since Ukrainian institutions refused to support him, he allowed the children to be murdered also, as he had been ordered by Dr. Thomas [chief of Einsatzgruppe C, later commander of the Security Police and the SD in Ukraine]. After the gas van, which could contain about 30 persons, was loaded and sealed, with an accompanying squad of SS-men led by Dr. Schumacher, it drove out of the city to where there was a sandy area with some anti-tank trenches on the northern outskirts [of the city]. There the pipe was inserted into the van’s interior and the truck’s engine was left to operate at full capacity for several minutes. In that way the Jewish men, along with their wives and children, were gassed to death. When it could be assumed that the victims had succumbed to the gas, SS members opened the doors of the van, pulled the bodies out, and threw them, together with their belongings, into one of the anti-tank trenches…
From the indictment of Kuno Callsen and other former members of Sonderkommando 4a of Einsatzgruppe C
January 12, 1967
…The witness Werner relates, inter alia, his experiences during the shootings in Kiev on September 29 and 30, 1941:
… QUESTION: How did executions take place?
ANSWER: The Jews were forced to descend the slope to the bottom of the ravine. They had to lie down there. We marksmen stood behind the Jews and had to shoot them with submachine-guns from behind. There were no volleys but continuous single shots from submachine-guns. When one layer had filled the [width of] the pit, the next Jews had to lie down on top of the first layer. I had to shoot for some time and then for some time to load my magazines. I also brought the Jews. When the Jews were standing at the edge of the pit, they saw what was going on in the pit. They cried loudly and threw themselves readily into the pit to meet their death.
REMARK: The witness became agitated and cried. He explains: I can remember mothers lying on top of their small children to protect them from death. What we had to experience was too much for any human being. When the layers rose higher, we had to trample down the bodies. Our boots were spattered with blood; it was horrible to feel the bodies under our boots. I wracked my brain wondering how I was capable of this, of enduring this whole process. Today I have no explanation for this. Sometimes I assume that they caused us to do this by some injections. I cannot bear it mentally and am glad to lighten my heart before you.
REMARK: The witness has a fit of crying, slams his fist on the table, and says “I cannot get rid of this, I cannot get rid of it…”
From the article by Lev Ozerov, “Kiev, Babi Yar”
… On September 27-28, 1941, a week after the Germans arrived in Kiev, announcements in bold Ukrainian and Russian script on a crude dark-blue paper were displayed around town:
“Kikes of the city of Kiev and surroundings! On Monday, September 29, you are to appear by 7:00 A.M. with your possessions, money, documents, valuables, and warm clothing at Dorogozhitskaya Street, next to the Jewish cemetery. Failure to appear is punishable by death. Hiding kikes is punishable by death. Occupying kike apartments is punishable by death.”…
At dawn of September 29 Kiev’s Jews were moving slowly along the streets in the direction of the Jewish Cemetery on Lukyanovka from various parts of the city. Many of them thought they were to be sent to provincial towns, but others realized that Babi Yar meant death. There were many suicides on that day.
Families baked bread for the journey, sewed knapsacks, rented wagons and two-wheeled carts. Old men and women supported each other while mothers carried their babies in their arms or pushed baby carriages. People were carrying sacks, packages, suitcases, boxes. Children were at their parents’ side. Young people took nothing along, but elderly people tried to take as much with them from home as possible. Pale sighing old women were led by their grandchildren. The paralyzed and ill were borne on stretchers, blankets, and sheets.
Streams of people flowed into the endless human current on Lvov Street, while German patrols stood on the sidewalks. So enormous was the mass of people moving along the pavement from early morning until late at night that it was difficult to cross from one side of the street to the other. This procession of death continued for three days and three nights. People walked, stopping once in a while, embraced each other without words, said goodbye, and prayed. The town fell silent. Crowds of people flowed from Pavlovskaya Street, Dmitrievskaya Street, Volodarskaya and Nekrasovskaya Streets into Lvov Street, like streams into a river. Lvov Street led to Melnik Street, which led to a barren road through naked hills to the sheer ravines of Babi Yar. As the people approached Babi Yar the din of angry voices, groans and sobs grew louder…
An entire office operation with desks had been set up in an open area. The crowd waiting at the barriers erected by the Germans at the end of the street could not see the desks. Thirty to forty persons at a time were separated from the crowd and led under armed guard for “registration”. Documents and valuables were taken away. The documents were immediately thrown to the ground, and witnesses have testified that the square was covered with a thick layer of discarded papers, torn passports, and union identification cards. Then the Germans forced everyone to strip naked: girls, women, children, old men. No exceptions were made. Their clothing was gathered up and carefully folded. Rings were ripped from the fingers of the naked men and women, and these doomed people were forced to stand at the edge of a deep ravine... The bodies fell over the cliff, and small children were thrown in alive. Many went insane when they reached the place of execution… Another woman who was saved from the death in Babi Yar was Yelena Yefimovna Borodyansky-Knysh. She arrived at Babi Yar carrying her child in her arms. It was already dark: “Along the way they added about one hundred and fifty people to our group - maybe more. I’ll never forget one girl - Sara: she was about fifteen years old. I can’t describe how beautiful she was. Her mother was pulling her own hair and screaming in a heart-rendering voice: ‘Kill us together. …’ The mother was killed with a rifle butt, but they weren’t in any hurry with the girl. Five or six Germans stripped her naked, but I didn’t see what happened after that. I didn’t see.
“They took our clothing, confiscating all our possessions, and led us about fifty meters away, where they took our documents, money, rings, earrings. They wanted to remove the gold teeth of one old man, and he tried to resist. Then one of the Germans grabbed him by the beard and threw him on the ground. There were tufts of beard in the German’s hand, and the old man was covered with blood. When my child saw that, she started to cry.
“’Don’t take me there, Mama. Look, they’re killing the old man’
“’Don’t shout, sweety, because if you shout, we won’t be able to run away, and the Germans will kill us.’
“She was a patient child, so she kept quiet, but she was shaking all over. She was four years old then. Everyone was stripped naked, but since I wore only old underwear, I didn’t have to take it off.
“At about midnight the command was given in German for us to line up. I didn’t wait for the next command, but threw my girl into the ditch and fell on top of her. A second later bodies started falling on me. Then everything went silent. There were more shots, and again bloody dying and dead people began falling into the pit.
“I sensed that my daughter wasn’t moving. I leaned up against her, covering her with my body. To keep her from suffocating, I made fists out of my hands and put them under her chin. She stirred. I tried to raise my body to keep from crushing her. The execution had been going on since 9:00 A.M. and there was blood all over the place. We were sandwiched between bodies. “I felt someone walk across the bodies and swear in German. A German soldier was checking with a bayonet to make sure no one was still alive. By chance he was standing on me, so the bayonet blow passed me.
“When he left I raised my head. The Germans were quarrelling over the booty.
“I freed myself, got up, and took my unconscious daughter in my arms. I walked along the ravine…Crawling my way over the ravines, I made my way to the village of Babi Yar….”
Ilya Ehrenburg, Vasily Grossman, The Black Book, New York, 1981, pp. 5-10.
From the Novel by Anatoli Kuznetsov, "Babi Yar"
...I could not, of course, miss such a rare spectacle as the deportation of the Jews from Kiev. As soon as it was light I was out on the street.
They started arriving while it was still dark, to be in good time to get seats in the train. With their howling children, their old and sick, some of them weeping, others swearing at each other, the Jews who lived and worked on the vegetable farm emerged onto the street. There were bundles roughly tied together with string, worn-out cases made from ply-wood, woven baskets, boxes of carpenters' tools...Some elderly women were wearing strings of onions hung around their necks like gigantic necklaces - food supplies for the journey...
I was struck by how many sick and unfortunate people there are in the world...
Deeply affected by what I saw, I went from one group of people to the other, listening to what they were saying; and the closer I got to Podol the more people I found out on the streets. They were standing in the gateways and porches, some of them watching and sighing, others jeering and hurling insults at the Jews...
The Glubochitsa was thick with people making their way up to Lukyanovka; it was just a sea of heads - the Jews of Podol were on the move...
From all sides came the questions: Where are they taking them? What are they doing with them?
In one crowd only two words could be heard "A ghetto, a ghetto!" A middle-aged woman came up, greatly alarmed and interrupted "Dear people, this is the end of us!"...
This caused some indignation: fancy sowing panic in people like that!...
Suddenly there was a new cause for concern; people started saying that ahead, on Melnikov Street, a barrier had been put up, and that they were letting people in but not back out again. At this point I myself took fright...So I began to force my way back in the opposite direction to the crowd, worked my way out of it and then wandered for a long time through the deserted streets, along which a few latecomers were practically running, to the accompaniment of whistles and shouts from the doorways.
When I got home I found my grandfather standing in the middle of the courtyard, straining to hear some shooting that was going on somewhere. He raised his finger.
"Do you know what?" he said with horror in his voice. "They're not deporting 'em. They're shooting 'em."
Then for the first time, I realized what was happening.
From Babi Yar came quite distinctly the sound of regular bursts of machine gun fire: ta-ta-ta, ta-ta...
At night the firing stopped, but it started up again in the morning. The word went around Kurenyovka that thirty thousand people had been shot on the first day, and that the others were sitting there waiting their turn...
A fourteen-year-old boy, the son of the collective-farm stable-man, had come running into the farmyard and was telling the most frightful stories: that they were being made to take all their clothes off; that several of them would be lined up, one behind the other, so as to kill more than one at a time; that the bodies were then piled up and earth thrown over them, and then more bodies were laid on top; that there were many who were not really dead, so that you could see the earth moving, that some managed to crawl out, only to be knocked over the head and thrown back into the pile....
A. Anatoli (Kuznetsov), Babi Yar, transl. David Floyd, London, 1970, pp. 93-97.