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BEYOND BABI YAR

Babi Yar, or Babyn Yar, is a ravine in Kyiv, Ukraine. On September 29th and 30th, 1941, Nazis forced 33,771 Jews into it and shot them.

The Nazis continued their campaign of mass shootings of Jews well beyond Babi Yar, extending through Ukraine, Belarus and other parts of Eastern Europe. This is how the Holocaust began. Although Nazis later engaged in industrialized killing, mainly in death and concentration camps in occupied Poland, an estimated 2.4 million, or 40%, of the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust died by shooting. They lie in thousands of mass graves across Eastern Europe, most of which, to this day, are unmarked, unprotected and plundered. 

 

The mass shootings occurred primarily in Ukraine. In Ukraine alone, it is estimated that 1,500,000 to 2,100,000 Jews were shot at approximately 2,000 execution sites across the country. The majority of these sites are unmarked and neglected, and the names of nearly half of the victims in them are unknown.

 

John Pollick is a lawyer in Illinois. The families of his maternal grandparents, immigrants from what is now Ukraine, were among the shooting victims. In 2014, after decades of searching for the mass grave in his grandmother's hometown, he learned that an organization called Yahad-In Unum had located it. He also learned that it was one of five sites, among thousands, selected to be protected and memorialized through a project called "Protecting Memory". In 2015, he and his daughter attended the dedication of the memorial there. While there, he learned of the full extent of the mass shootings and the profound neglect of both the execution sites and the shooting victims themselves.

 

Returning home, Mr. Pollick found that, like himself before "Protecting Memory", Americans were not properly educated about the shooting victims and their neglected graves. In 2019, to address this void, he returned to Ukraine to make a film showing the reality of these forgotten victims and their graves, as well as the changing attitudes of Ukrainians regarding them. These changing attitudes include a growing willingness to remember and honor these marginalized victims, and bury them with dignity. The process of doing so, however, has barely begun. Hundreds, if not thousands, of execution sites across Ukraine and Eastern Europe will be forever forgotten, together with the Jewish victims in them, unless these efforts are greatly and immediately expanded.

 

The purpose of the film is to educate viewers about these forgotten Holocaust victims and their neglected graves, and inspire action regarding them. After 80 years, it is time to finally address this enormous historical and humanitarian injustice in an open and comprehensive way, and begin to restore to the millions of shooting victims the dignity and respect they have been so long denied.

The film is 32 minutes long. You can watch it below. No film like it has ever been made.

 

"Profoundly moving ... [Does] a beautiful job of explaining why it is so important that this aspect of the greatest crime in human history must be told, revealed, remembered and redeemed." - Katrina Lantos Swett, President, Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice

 

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