MASSACRE AT BABI YAR RAVINE
THE PEAK OF THE MURDEROUS ACTIVITY
OF THE SDS KILLING UNITS CAME AT A PLACE CALLED BABI YAR, AFTER THE GERMAN OCCUPATION OF KIEV IN SEPTEMBER 1941.
The occupying troops captured
Kiev on 19th September and began to establish a presence in the historical city. Summoned to a graveyard for what
the Germans called a resettlement action the victims including old men, women and children were marched to a location on the
edge of the city, where many thought they would be picked up.
A truck driver says One day I was instructed to drive my truck outside
the town. I was accompanied by a Ukranian. It was about 10. On the way there we overtook Jews carrying luggage marching on
foot in the same direction as us. There were whole families. The further we got out of town the denser the people became.
Piles of clothing lay in a large open field. These were my destination.
After we stopped in the area near the clothes, we were loaded up. I watched
what happened when the Jews arrived. They had to remove all luggage, coats, clothes and undergarments. They also had to leave
their valuables in a special place. Anyone who hesitated were kicked or pushed by the Ukranians. I dont think even a minute
passed between them taking their coats off to them standing completely naked.
No distinction was made between men, women or children. One would have
thought the others following would have turned back when they saw the others naked. It still surprises me today that this
did not happen
Once undressed they were led out to a ravine which was about 150 metres
long, 30 metres wide and a good 15 metres deep. Two or three narrow entrances led to this ravine through which they were pushed.
When they reached the bottom of the ravine they were seized by members of the Schutzpolizei and made to lie down on top of
Jews who had already been shot. This happened very quickly and the corpses were literally in layers
A police marksman came along and shot each Jew in the neck with a sub-machine
gun where he was laying. When the Jews reached this place, they were so shocked by the horrifying scene that they completely
lost their will.
There were only two marksmen carrying out the shootings, one at one end
and one at the other. I even saw them stand on the corpses to shot the others. The moment one Jew had been shot, he would
walk across the dead to get to the others and shoot them as they lay down.
I only saw this scene briefly and when I got to the bottom of the ravine,
I was so shocked by the terrible sight that I could not bear to look for long. I saw that there was already three rows of
bodies lined up over a distance of 60 metres. How many layers of bodies were on top of each other.
When the victims came along the paths to the ravine and at the last moment
saw what was going to happen to them, they screamed but the next moment they were on top
of the dead waiting to be shot. The next group could not see this terrible scene because it happened round the corner.
A biting wind was blowing and it was very cold, you could not hear the
shots from where they were undressing, this is why I think the Jews did not realize in time what was waiting for them.
The Jews , masses of them, came from the city, unsuspecting, thinking
they were going to be resettled and instead were murdered.
HIDING THE EVIDENCE
As early as the summer of 1942, the main state security office of the
Reich, the RSHA, planned to obliterate any traces of the activities. Paul Blobel, commander of the killers at Babi Yar was
ordered by the Gestapo to return to Kiev. In the summer of 1943, 300 labourers were conscripted from Syrets, the local concentration
camp and spent the next two months digging up the mass graves (which by now contained tens of thousands of Gypsies and Soviet
POWs, also murdered on the site over the previous 18 months.
According to Blobels testimony at Nuremberg, he saw one 55metre long
grave opened up. Incendiary materials and inflammable liquids were poured on the remains and they were set alight, being kept
burning for more than two days. This was too slow and the slave labourers had to remove the bodies, stacking them on heaps of firewood. These were then doused with petrol and set alight.
Bone crushing machines were brought in to destroy the remains. Post-war
Soviet writings estimate that between 70,000 and 100,000 bodies were dealt with in this way. Included in that number were
most of the 300 men who had done the exhuming, though about a dozen escaped to bear witness.
The advance of the Red Army meant that the Nazis could not finish the
job. Blobels testimony at Nuremberg, concluded with the words owing to the retreat from Russia, I could not carry out my orders