• Menu

  • Visiting

  • Shop

  • Languages

  • Accessibility
Visiting Info
Opening Hours:

Sunday to Wednesday: 09:00-17:00
Thursday: 9:00-20:00 *
Fridays and Holiday eves: 09:00-14:00.

Yad Vashem is closed on Saturdays and all Jewish Holidays.

* The Holocaust History Museum, Museum of Holocaust Art, Exhibitions Pavilion and Synagogue are open until 20:00. All other sites close at 17:00.

Drive to Yad Vashem:
For more Visiting Information click here

The Subject of “Jews in Babi Yar” in the Soviet Union in the Years 1941–1945

Dr. Arkadi Zeltser
  1. Karel Berkhoff, “‘Total Annihilation of the Jewish Population,’ The Holocaust in the Soviet Media, 1941–45,” Kritika, 10 (1) (Winter 2009), pp. 61–105,  Mordechai Altshuler, “The Holocaust in the Soviet Mass Media during the War and in the First Postwar Years Re-examined,” Yad Vashem Studies, No. 2 (39), 2011, pp. 121–168; Dov Ber Kerler, “The Soviet Yiddish Press: Eynikayt During the War, 1942–1945,” in Robert Moses Shapiro, ed., Why Didnt the Press Shout? American and International Journalism during the Holocaust (Jersey City, N.J.: Yeshiva University Press, 2003), pp. 221–249.   

  2. Itsik Kipnis, “Tsvishn yidn” (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Rossiiskoi Federatsii [State Archive of the Russian Federation], abbreviated GARF), f. 8114, op. 1, d. 297, l. 118, a copy in the Yad Vashem Archives, JM/26187). An abbreviated translation of Kipnis’s Yiddish-language essay appeared in Russian under the title “Babii Iar” in the Babii Iar collection, which was published in Israel in 1981, pp. 71–74. A translation of one of the more complete versions of Kipnis’s essay was published in the newsletter Golokost i suchasnist’, No. 4 (10), 2003, pp. 1–2.

  3. “Zverstva nemtsev v Kieve,” Pravda, November 19, 1941, p. 4; Maior P. Stepanenko, “Chto proiskhodit v Kieve,” Pravda, November 29, 1941, p. 3; Jeff  Mankoff, “Babi Yar and the Struggle for Memory, 1944–2004”, Ab Imperio, 2, 2004, pp. 396–397, Berkhoff, pp. 73–74, Altshuler, p. 135.

  4. “Nota narodnogo komissara inostrannykh del tov. V.M Molotova,” Izvestiia, January 7, 1942, p. 2, Mankoff, p. 396, Berkhoff, p. 74; Altshuler, p. 136.

  5. Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv sotsialno-politicheskoi istorii [Russian State Archive of Social and Political History]/ abbreviated RGASPI, f. 69, op. 1, d. 1079, l. 41, Yad Vashem Archives, M40/RCM/16; Fedor Sverdlov, Dokumenty obviniaiut. Kholokost: Svidetel’stva Krasnoi Armii (Moscow: Tsentr Kholokosta, 1996), p. 46.

  6. Berkhoff, pp.  83–84; Altshuler, pp. 145–146.

  7. Serhy Yekelchyk, “The Civic Duty to Hate: Stalinist Citizenship as Political Practice and Civic Emotion (Kiev, 1943–53),”  Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, vol. 7, No. 3, Summer 2006, p. 539.

  8. Ilya Erenburg, “Gebentshte erd,” Eynikayt, October 15, 1942, p. 2.

  9. Mikhl Tanklevski, “Tevah hayehudim bekiev ube‘arei ukraina,” Davar, April 14, 1943, pp. 1, 4.

  10. Mikhl Tanklevski, “Der kiever khurbn,” Eynikayt, April 5, 1943, p. 2.

  11. Ilya Erenburg, “Di daychishe fashistn tor nit lebn blaybn,” Eynikayt, November 4, 1943, p. 2, quoted from: Ilya Ehrenburg, Voina, 19411945 (Moscow: AST, 2004), p. 507.

  12. Ilya Ehrenburg, “Narodoubiitsy,” in Voina, 19411945, p. 579; Evreiskii narod v bor’be protiv fashizma. Materialy 3-go antifashistskogo mitinga predstavitelei evreiskogo naroda (Moscow: Der Emes, 1945), p. 38; “Evsei Lantsman’s Letter from Ilya Ehrenburg’s Archive,” Babii Iar: K piatidesiateletiiu tragedii 29, 30 sentiabria 1941 goda (Jerusalem, 1991), p. 70.

  13. David Bergelson, “Kiev,” Eynikayt, May 1, 1943, p. 4, David Bergelson, “Undzer Kiev,” Eynikayt, November 11, 1943, p. 3. On Bergelson’s wartime journalism, see: David Shneer, “From Mourning to Vengeance: Bergelson’s Holocaust Journalism (1941–1945),” in Joseph Sherman and Gennady Estraikh, eds, David Bergelson: From Modernism to Socialist Realism (Leeds: Legenda, 2007), pp. 248–268.

  14. Evreiskii narod v bor’be protiv fashizma, p. 27.

  15. Gvardie–kapitan I. Falikman, “Der lebedike eydes,” Eynikayt, February 10, 1944, p. 3.

  16. M. Mizhiritski, “Der oyfshtand in babi yar (tsum tsveytn yortog),” Eynikayt, September 29, 1945, p. 2. 

  17. Ber Mark, “Der oyfshtand in varshaver geto,” Eyniyayt, May 15, 1943, p. 4; Ber Mark, “Oyfshtand di luninetser yidn kegn di daytshishe talyonim,” Eynikayt, July 17, 1943, p. 2; M. Mizhiritski, “Der oyfshtand in babi yar (tsum tsveytn yortog),” Eynikayt, September 29, 1945, p. 2.

  18. Gvardie–kapitan I. Falikman, “Der lebedike eydes,” Eynikayt, February 10, 1944, p. 3.

  19. Amir Weiner, Making Sense of War: The Second World War and the Fate of the Bolshevik Revolution (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), pp. 191–193. His claims are largely based on a letter by Jewish combat veterans to Stalin, Molotov, and Pospelov, complaining about the Ukrainian authorities’ pandering to anti-Semites (Gennadii Kostyrchenko, Gosudarstvennyi antisemitizm v SSSR ot nachala i do kul’minatsii 19381953: Dokumenty [Moscow: Demokratiia, 2005], pp. 65–72).

  20. David Bergelson, “Kiev,” Eynikayt, May 1, 1943, p. 4.

  21. Yitsik Kipnis, “Tsvishn yidn” (GARF, f. 8114, op. 1, d. 297, l. 123–124, a copy in the Yad Vashem Archives, JM/26187).

  22. Mordechai Altshuler, Yehadut bemakhbesh hasovieti: bein dat lezehut yehudit bevrit hamoatsot, 19411964, (Jerusalem: Merkaz Zalman Shazar, 2007), p. 90.

  23. Avrom Kagan, “Kiever ‘tal fun trern’ dem 29 sentiaber 1944 y[or]” (GARF, f. 8114, op. 1, d. 460, a copy in the Yad Vashem Archives, JM/26236).

  24. This spontaneous act of commemoration by Jews, which took place in Babi Yar on September 29, 1944, was monitored by the authorities. Those mid-level functionaries in the Central Committee of the Ukrainian Party who were hostile to Jews tended to view it as a manifestation of Jewish nationalism. Taking their cue from similar accusations that had been made in the late 1930s, they tried to reduce it to an attempt by “Zionist elements to organize a mass demonstration by the Jewish population in Kiev on the anniversary of the German massacre at Babi Yar” (Vladimir Khanin, Documents on Ukrainian Jewish Identity and Emigration, 19441990 [London-Portland: Frank Cass], p. 51). Another document from the same time period leveled virtually identical accusations of nationalism (“trying to organize a mass demonstration by the Jewish population of Kiev”) at the Yiddish-language poet David Hofshteyn, referring to information obtained from the People’s Commissariat for State Security (ibid., p. 56). Nevertheless, it seems that the Ukrainian authorities, including the People’s Commissariat for State Security, decided not to interfere with the Jewish commemoration activities on that occasion.

  25. Avrom Kagan, “Kiever ‘tal fun trern’ dem 29 sentiaber 1944 y[or].” On Nesia Elgort, see: Lev Ozerov, “Kiev, Babi Yar,” in: Vasily Grossman and Ilya Ehrenburg, The Black Book (Jerusalem: Holocaust Library, 1981), pp. 8–9.    

  26. Maxim D. Shrayer, “Jewish-Russian Poets Bearing Witness to the Shoah, 1941– 1946: Textual Evidence and Preliminary Conclusions,” in: Stefanio Garzonio, ed.,  Studies in Slavic Languages and Literatures (ICCEES CONGRESS Stockholm 2010, papers and contributions), Stockholm, 2011, p. 88.

  27. Avrom Kagan, “What I Have Seen at the Kiev Jewish Cemetery near Babi Yar” (Russian; translated from the Yiddish by D. Manevich) (GARF, f. 8114, op. 1, d. 89, l. 177, a copy in the Yad Vashem Archives, JM/26108).

  28. GARF f. 8114, op. 1, d. 918, l. 28.

  29. Mire Ayzenshtadt, “A denkmol in Babi Yar,” Eynikayt, July 7, 1945, p. 2.

  30. David Brandenberger, National Bolshevism: Stalinist Mass Culture and the Formation of Modern Russian National Identity, 1931–1956 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002), p. 120.

  31. Maior P. Stepanenko, “Chto proiskhodit v Kieve,” Pravda, November 29, 1941, p. 3; “Nota narodnogo komissara inostrannykh del tov. V.M. Molotova,” Izvestiia, January 7, 1942, p. 2.

  32. This correspondence has been extensively described by Lev Bezymenskii: Lev Bezymenskii, “Informatsiia po-sovetski,” Znamia, No. 5, 1998 (http://magazines.russ.ru/znamia/1998/5/bezym.html).

  33. Serhy Yekelchyk, “The Civic Duty to Hate: Stalinist Citizenship as Political Practice and Civic Emotion (Kiev, 1943–53),” pp. 535–536.

  34. Rafail Skomorovs’kyi, “Ne zabudemo, ne prostymo! Kryvavyi iar,” Radianska Ukraina, January 9, 1945. A partial version of Tamara Mikhaseva’s testimony, which seems to be based on Skomorovskii’s article, appeared in: Lev Ozerov, “Kiev, Babi Yar,” p. 8.

  35. For a detailed analysis of the Jewish theme in this cycle of poems by Ilya Ehrenburg, which is dedicated to Babi Yar, see: Shrayer, “Jewish-Russian Poets Bearing Witness to the Shoah, 1941–1946: Textual Evidence and Preliminary Conclusions,” pp. 73–85. 

  36. Shrayer, “Jewish-Russian Poets Bearing Witness to the Shoah, 1941–1946: Textual Evidence and Preliminary Conclusions,” p. 87.

  37. Shrayer, “Jewish-Russian Poets Bearing Witness to the Shoah, 1941–1946: Textual Evidence and Preliminary Conclusions,” p. 68. For Ol’shanskaia’s recollections in Russian, see: “Mne zhizn’ podarila vstrechi s poetom,” Zerkalo nedeli, No.  17, April 25, 1998 (http://zn.ua/CULTURE/mne_zhizn_podarila_vstrechi_s_poetom-11298.html, March 2012).    

  38. David Hofshteyn, “Kiev,” Eynikayt, November 11, 1943, p. 3.

  39. On the changes in the Soviet attitudes to the religion during World War II, see, for example, Mordechai Altshuler, Religion and Jewish identity in the Soviet Union, 19411964 (Waltham, Mass: Brandeis University Press, 2012); T.A. Chumachenko, Gosudarstvo, pravoslavnaia tserkov’, veruiushchie 1941–1961 gg. (Moscow, 1999), pp. 23–107.     

  40. Avrom Kagan, “Kiever ‘tal fun trern’ dem 29 sentiaber 1944 y[or].”

  41. V. Sosiura. “Babyn Iar,” Kyivska pravda, December 15, 1943; see also: Yekelchyk, “The Civic Duty to Hate: Stalinist Citizenship as Political Practice and Civic Emotion (Kiev, 1943–53),” p. 535.

  42. V. Sosiura. “Evreis’komu narodovi,” Literatura i mystetstvo, September 20, 1942.

  43. I am grateful to Hillel Kazovsky for information on Strakhov-Braslavsky.   

  44. Avrom Kagan, “At an Arts Exhibition in Kiev” (translated into Russian by D. Manevich) (GARF, f. 8114, op. 1, d. 21, l. 32, a copy in the Yad Vashem Archives, JM/26079). For more on the exhibition held in Kiev in May 1944, see: Vystavki sovetskogo izobrazitel’nogo iskusstva (Moscow: 1973). Vol. 3, p. 189.

  45. On the Soviet bureaucracy’s demands for similar attitudes to different ethnic groups of victims see, for example, Shimon Redlich, War, Holocaust and Stalinism: a Documented Study of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in the USSR (Luxembourg: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1995), pp. 285–296.

  46. David Bergelson, “Undzer Kiev,” Eynikayt, November 11, 1943, p. 3.

  47. Tatiana Evstaf’eva and Vitalii Nakhmanovich, eds., Babi Yar: Chelovek, vlast’, istoriia (Kiev: Vneshtorgizdat Ukrainy, 2004), book 1, p. 253.

  48. I. Mizshiritski, “Der oyfshtand in babi yar (tsum tsveytn yortog — 29 sentiaber 1943” (GARF, f. 8114,op. 1, d. 401, ll. 113–122, a copy in the Yad Vashem Archives, JM/26217).