Photos from Educators’ Luncheon honoring Dr. Jonathan Friedman

Dr. Jonathan Friedman presents on his new book Haunted Laughter: Representations oof Adolf Hitler, The Holocaust, and the Third Reich in Comedic Film and Television at our Educator’s Luncheon on May 15.
Event attendees listening to Dr. Friedman.
Jackie Cherepinsky and Laura Demetrou
Laura Demetriou of One Hope Wine. The event hosted a tasting to benefit the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center
Dr. Jonathan Friedman with colleagues and former students from West Chester University. From left: Jackie Cherepinsky, Dr. Tonya Thames Taylor, Anna Helminska, Dr. Jonathan Friedman, Phil Holtje, Geoff Quinn, Dr. Ruth Almy
Jackie Cherepinsky introducing Dr. Jonathan Friedman
HAMEC President Chuck Feldman presents to Dr. Friedman with the Educator of the Year Award
HAMEC President Chuck Feldman
HAMEC Education Director Geoff Quinn, Dr. Jonathan Friedman, HAMEC Program Director Dr. Ruth Almy
Dr. Jonathan Friedman and family—Leslie Rylke (wife), Maya Rylke-Friedman (daughter), Tess Rylke-Friedman (daughter).

Wherever you are, our Survivors and Liberators are ready to address your school, congregation or civic group.

Vancouver Holocaust Memorial at Schara Tzedeck Cemetery in New Westminster, B.C. Click for information.

More and more school districts and States are requiring Holocaust education. HAMEC can provide virtual programs for your school, congregation and civic group. Wherever you are – be it the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Israel, India, Brazil, Australia, or Nigeria –  we can serve you world-wide.

Through Google Meet, Skype and Zoom, we can bring the latest in Holocaust education to your school.  Request a program today.

Hate never takes a vacation and neither do we.

The Holocaust started with my great-uncle’s murder

Arthur Kahn is believed to be the first Jewish person killed by the Nazis. I’ve known the story of his death as long as I can remember, but I wanted to learn the story of his life.

By MATTIE KAHN, The Atlantic, May 5, 2022. Click for full report.

The Stolpersteine for Arthur Kahn, Fanny Weinberg, and Nathan Weinberg (Mattie Kahn)

Here is the foundational narrative on which I was raised: In March 1933, my great-uncle Arthur Kahn walked out of his apartment in Würzburg, Germany, for what was supposed to be a short Easter-break trip to see relatives. He was 21, training to be a doctor. He didn’t know it, but his name had been placed on a list of students suspected of Communist ties. He had none, but he was arrested in Nuremberg. A few weeks later, he was transferred to Dachau, which had just opened as a prison. Adolf Hitler had been in power for 10 weeks. Within 24 hours of his arrival, Arthur was killed—believed to be the first shot among a group of four Jewish men and the Holocaust’s first Jewish victim.

I learned about Arthur from the elder of his two surviving brothers—Herbert Kahn, the man I called Opa. Arthur died on Passover; at the time, Opa was 12. During the second seder, when I was a child, the whole table would seem to brace itself for his palpable despair. I liked it better when Opa would sidle up and tell me stories. Arthur was a meticulous draftsman. He was a state chess champion. He had hoped to be a cancer researcher, just as the field was first developing.

Opa died three months before I graduated from college. It was a shock to realize that I was now older than Arthur had ever been. That summer, I tracked down the New York Times article that announced the Dachau murders. Its headline parrots the Nazi lie: “Nazis Shoot Down Fleeing Prisoners.” I read Timothy W. Ryback’s book Hitler’s First Victims, a meticulous account not just of the killings themselves, but of the prosecutor who tried to indict the men responsible for them at tremendous personal risk. He hadn’t believed the official explanation. He couldn’t overlook the obvious—four victims, all Jewish. The Nazis suppressed the case. The killers went free.

I became obsessed. I wanted to know where the police found Arthur in Nuremberg—had he known he was doomed? And then: Did he like music? Did he write in diaries? Did he have a favorite book? I wrote to archivists and historians, searching for answers with a determination that bordered on compulsion. I struggled to explain what I hoped to find. Closure wasn’t the right word. I felt too embarrassed to write closeness. Scholars invited me to tour their institutions. I scoured footnotes, submitting files concerning Arthur’s fate to a translator so that I could read them. I took notes on the names of his torturers. I ransacked libraries. I filed research requests. I read about how he bled.

Between 2018 and 2021, I traveled to Germany—to the sites of Arthur’s life and death—four times. I felt drawn to these places, as if walking in his footsteps might tell me something about the person whose gruesome death had come to define his life. I needed to make present the person I had known as an absence. I wanted to see him.

Not long after the Axis powers surrendered, the Allies turned their attention to the business of commemoration. Across Germany, liberators tacked up posters showing stacks of Jewish corpses. Concentration camps such as Majdanek and Auschwitz and Dachau were secured and preserved. It was a practical choice. The land would be evidence in imminent war-crime trials. God had confronted Cain; the Allies heard the blood-soaked ground too. It was also the moral position. The camps would become three-dimensional keepers of the historical record—geographical testimonies of the incontrovertible horror of the Holocaust.

Over time, concentration camps throughout Europe were restored and opened to the public. So were several Nazi headquarters and the estate in bucolic Wannsee where Nazi officials had feasted and drank together, plotting the “Final Solution.”

The public reckoning was slower. Germans still cast themselves as the war’s true victims. Had the violence not devastated them too? Some concentration camps fell into disrepair, warding off potential visitors. In Dachau, the first memorial commemorating the Jewish genocide wasn’t built until 1960. It was a Catholic chapel. The camps—like Buchenwald—that stood on East German land were better-maintained, but with an ulterior motive. The German Democratic Republic framed the war as a struggle between German fascists and Marxism. The extermination of the Jewish people was an afterthought.

But memorialization soon became a fixation on both sides of the Atlantic. A record number of German citizens tuned in to watch the melodramatic but affecting miniseries Holocaust in 1979. In 1980, Congress established the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, which set about planning the development of a Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C., as well as an annual national event to remember the devastation. One event begat two and then 10 and then thousands. In 1990, a writer for The New York Times took stock of Holocaustmemorial projects. The 1988 index she consulted listed “19 museums, 48 resource centers, 34 archives, 12 memorials, 25 research institutes, and five libraries.” We remembered with a kind of desperation, as a bulwark.

I was born in 1992, part of Generation “Never Forget.” I was a toddler when the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum opened its doors next to the National Mall. I read The Number on My Grandfather’s Arm in kindergarten. I read Number the Stars in middle school. When, at age 11, I learned that a friend had zero grandparents who were Holocaust survivors, it was a revelation. How alien, I thought. How American.

“Never forget” was a promise we kept with ourselves and expected the world to keep, too. I believed in it like a vow I had taken. When I said it, I didn’t hear the other, more vulnerable note. The one that sounded like a plea.

I went to a Jewish preschool, Jewish summer camp, then Jewish grade school and high school. Normal children in normal households have parents and grandparents who attend their school recitals and clap when the curtain falls. The people I knew had parents and grandparents who attended our school recitals and, when the curtain fell, whispered, “Hitler didn’t win.” We were the real and durable survival—the triumph he’d wanted to wipe out. Even when we were little, we knew our stories. Our murdered great-grandparents, great-uncles, and great-aunts. The first cousins our parents never met. We knew whose grandfathers had been married before, had had first wives and first children murdered in the camps. I knew Arthur’s historical distinction: the first. Over time, I collected a few more details about him—his brilliance, his good looks, his various romances.

A black and white photo of a young man wearing a brimmed hat and a coat, smiling and pointing at something out of frame
Arthur Kahn as a teenager (Courtesy of Mattie Kahn)

But of course, most of what I knew concerned that terrible week in April—the sequence of murder and heartbreak and burial. I knew Arthur’s father, Levi, had paid to have his son’s coffin released from Dachau. I knew it had arrived sealed shut. When did I learn the particulars? I don’t remember ever being told them. We inherited these stories as we inherited our hair colors, the shape of our faces. The Nazis ruled that Arthur had been killed in an attempted escape, gunned down while he tried to flee. But I had been told—had I ever not known?—that Levi pried open the coffin. He saw that his son had been shot through the forehead. Levi and his wife, Martha, and their two surviving sons didn’t leave for America until August 1939, two weeks before the war broke out. Arthur’s death was supposed to be a freak act of violence, not an omen.

CLICK FOR REST OF THE REPORT FROM THE ATLANTIC

She lost her family in the Holocaust. She finally knows the name her parents gave her

By OLIVIA B. WAXMAN, Time, May 6, 2022. Click for full report

Holocaust survivor Mary Wygodski, 95, gets ready to record testimony in April 2021 in St. Petersburg, Fla.
 Courtesy of Ursula Szczepinska

More than 75 years since V-E Day—the May 8, 1945, celebrations marking the end of World War II in Europe and the surrender of Nazi Germany—Holocaust survivors are still recording their stories for future generations. One recently found out her own story is still being written: At the age of 95, she finally learned the name her parents gave her.

Mary Wygodski of St. Petersburg, Fla., always knew she was named after her grandmother, but last year she learned that her birth name is Mera.

Ursula Szczepinska, Director of Education & Research at the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, found that name listed in a birth register in the Lithuanian State Historical Archives, which emailed an image of it to Szczepinska, who could read the Polish and Hebrew on the document.

“The truth came to light, after all these years,” Wygodski tells TIME.

Part of Szczepinska’s job is helping local survivors search for information about what happened to their relatives during the Holocaust, and she started searching for Wygodski’s birth name to prepare her for an interview for the USC Shoah Foundation’s Dimensions in Testimony program last April. Through that program, Holocaust survivors are recorded answering hundreds of questions about their experience during World War II, and the result is an interactive installation that allows museum visitors to ask any question to a digital version of the survivor and then receive a response back in real time. In preparation for the recording, Wygodski received some questions in advance, and one of them was about her birth name, which she did not know. As the sole survivor of her immediate family during the Holocaust, she had no one to ask, and the question never came up.

“Without this project and the preparation for the interview, we might never have known that [Mary] doesn’t know her real name,” says Szczepinska.

Born Mera Tabachowicz in 1925 in Vilna, Poland (now Vilnius, Lithuania), Wygodski lived in the Vilna ghetto and pretended to be her cousin Mila Kovner in order to stay in the ghetto under Mera’s uncle’s work permit. Mila had already been murdered at Ponary, a forest in Nazi-occupied Lithuania where as many as 75,000 people, mostly Jews, are believed to have been shot to death. Wygodski’s uncle’s wife and other children were also murdered there. After the ghetto was liquidated, Mary survived three concentration camps, KaiserwaldStutthof, and Magdeburg. At Kaiserwald, she tried to end her own life by jumping into the Dvina River after being separated from her family.

Wygodski was in Magdeburg when it was liberated, and after the war moved to what was then Palestine, where she went by her Hebrew name, Miriam; Szczepinska found her name listed as such via the website of the Israel Genealogy Research Association. There, she met her husband Morton Wygodski, an engineer, and the two moved to Florida in 1957 where she’s lived ever since. She’s a mother of two and has three grandchildren.

Wygodski also remembered being called Mercia by her parents and her friends, but Szczepinska concluded it must have been a nickname. Mary always thought her name was Mary because her name is listed as such on an identification card from Magdeburg and an identification card from a displaced persons camp in Belgium she lived in briefly after the war ended in 1945. She donated those cards to the Florida museum, and Szczepinska believes the camps anglicized Mary’s name.

Despite learning her birth name, Wygodski, who has turned 96 since the discovery was made, has no plans to start going by it.

“I don’t think it would be right,” she says. “People know me [by Mary].”

She hopes the story of how she lost track of her birth name because of the death of her family during the Holocaust will raise awareness about preserving survivors’ memories. These days, seeing the news out of Ukraine reminds her of what she lived through during World War II, and she worries that Holocaust denial persists. As she puts it, “Holocaust denial and distortion is the greatest threat for the shrinking population of Holocaust survivors.”

She hopes by sharing the revelation that came up by telling her story, other survivors will be inspired not only to share more of their stories, to remind the world what they endured, but also in order to learn more about their own personal histories.


ADL Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents


View in browser 

ADL PHILADELPHIA UPDATE MAY 2022  
 
ADL’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents was just released last week, and the national data shows that 2021 was a year of historic levels of antisemitism. In 2021, ADL tabulated 2,717 antisemitic incidents throughout the United States. This is a 34% increase from the 2,026 incidents tabulated in 2020. You can find the full report here.

It is important to note that the Greater Philadelphia Region did see a decrease in antisemitic incidents from 2020 to 2021, however even one incident is one too many. As we discuss the statistics, it is important to keep in mind that each data point represents a real victim and a community suffering real pain and fear.

ADL has launched the following new initiatives to confront hate and antisemitism head on: A seven part video series explaining the most common antisemitic tropes today: power, disloyalty, greed, deicide, blood libel, Holocaust denial, and anti-Zionism. Center for Antisemitism Research, a new research arm of ADL that will deepen understanding of antisemitism through scholarly investigation and empirical research. Please do not forget to sign up for Never is Now on November 10, the world’s largest summit on antisemitism and hate.

Thank you for continuing to support ADL Philadelphia’s work. Only together can we continue to fight hate for good.
Take care,

Andrew M. Goretsky, EdD
Regional Director‌ 

AUDIT OF ANTISEMITIC INCIDENTS 2021

The release of the annual “Audit of Antisemitic Incidents” detailed the disturbing truth, antisemitic incidents across the country are at record levels. Nationally, ADL recorded a 34% increase in antisemitic incidents in 2021. The number of antisemitic incidents is the highest number ever recorded by ADL. 

Regionally, while the number of antisemitic incidents reported to the ADL in Pennsylvania was slightly down (69), the number of antisemitic incidents in New Jersey was at an all-time high (370). “The number of incidents inspired by antisemitism and racism are at historic levels and we are alarmed by the dramatic increase in antisemitic incidents in New Jersey,” said Andrew Goretsky, Regional Director of ADL’s Philadelphia office serving Southern New Jersey. “ADL is working closely with victims, law enforcement, and community leaders to help reverse this trend.”

Harassment, vandalism, and assault, the three categories of antisemitic incidents ADL tracks, all increased in New Jersey. Additionally, Jewish institutions experienced a 76% increase in incidents, marking a concerning escalation from previous years. Read the full audit here.‌ 

JOIN ANNUAL DAY OF ADVOCACY


Join the Jewish Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council, ADL Philadelphia, and AJC Philadelphia/Southern New Jersey for our annual day of advocacy, as we meet virtually with our Pennsylvania elected officials at the State Capitol in Harrisburg to raise awareness about issues of concern to our communities.

Advocacy issues will include:
Elections and Voting, Hate Crimes, Social Safety Net, Security Funding, and Religious Garb in schools. 

REGISTER HERE‌ 

ADL PHILADELPHIA AT WORK‌ 

NJ101.5 quoted Regional Director Andrew Goretsky in a story about the record level of antisemitic incidents reported in New Jersey in 2021, as reflected in the ADL Audit of Antisemitic Incidents. Read the full story here.Deputy Regional Director Robin Burstein spoke with KYW News Radio to discuss the record levels of antisemitic incidents recorded in 2021 across the country. Read and listen to the story here.Read about the incredible life and legacy of former ADL Philadelphia Board Chair, Herman Mattleman here.‌ 

STAY ENGAGED

Our newsletter is a great way for us to connect with you, but our social media pages are a great way for you to connect with us. Please follow us on social media and be a part of the conversation at: SUPPORT OUR WORKSUBSCRIBE TO ADL EMAILS / READ OUR BLOGSEND TO A FRIEND CONTACT ADL ADL / 605 Third Avenue / New York, NY 10158
©2022 Anti-Defamation League. All rights reserved.
Unsubscribe or Update Email Preferences / Privacy Policy

Annual Educator of the Year Program to honor Dr. Jonathan Friedman

Jonathan Friedman

Sunday, May 15th, 2022

Missed the deadline to attend the Educator of the Year event in person? We will be broadcasting the ceremony and Dr. Jonathan Friedman’s presentation as a multi-access event.

Click to register for on-line event.

Livestream will begin at 3:45 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday, May 15, and our virtual attendees can tune into Dr. Friedman’s lecture on his new book Haunted Laughter: Representations of Adolf Hitler, the Third Reich, and the Holocaust in Comedic Film and Televison. As ths is a fundraising event, any dontions made alongside virtual attendance would be greatly appreciated. HAMEC thanks all of our supporters for helpiing us to continue our important work of educating about the consquences of hate, prejudiceand intolerance.

Click to donate to HAMEC.

Dr. Friedman is Director of Holocaust and Genocide Studies and professor of history at West Chester University. He is the author of 10 books, most recently the monograph Haunted Laughter: Representations of Adolf Hitler, the Third Reich, and the Holocaust in Comedic Film and Television (Rowman and Littlefield, Lexington Books, 2022). A graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, Dr. Friedman has served as a historian at both the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation.

Fashion entrepreneur creates National Holocaust Remembrance Day

Bonnie Ray Glogover Successfully Lobbied the House of Representatives to Establish US Holocaust Remembrance Day.

By: I Remember & Company LLC

Alison and Mark wearing the bracelets

Alison and Mark wearing the bracelets

EDGEWATER, N.J. – April 25, 2022 – PRLog — Edgewater, NJ. Sometimes, all it takes is one person to move the needle of history forward. Such dedication exists with fashion entrepreneur and human rights activist, Bonnie Ray Glogover.

Bonnie is the daughter of Holocaust survivor, Stanley Glogover, (1925-2013. In 2000, she honored his wartime experiences by successfully lobbying the House of Representatives to establish a National Holocaust Remembrance Day to be marked each Spring. This year honoring the Shoah falls on Thursday, April 28th.

Bonnie’s initiative is particularly forceful given the current massacres of defenseless civilians in Ukraine. She is deeply committed to “Never forget,” and to nationwide Holocaust education.

“Within hours of arriving at Auschwitz, my father’s mother and his three younger siblings were gassed immediately,” Bonnie comments. “We can’t cure such evils unless we educate present and future generations about state-sponsored terror against people of all faiths and races.”

In her ongoing mission to combat racism and the violent atrocities it breeds, Bonnie created the I REMEMBER AGAINST GENOCIDE® Jewelry Collection: a set of exquisitely crafted bracelets in sterling silver, 18K rose, yellow, and white gold, and platinum. The collection symbolizes remembrance and love, defiance and hope. Their design reflects the train tracks that led so many camp victims to a dark destination.

These gender-neutral bracelets are intended to evoke meaningful dialogue between wearers and observers. The words “I REMEMBER” are inscribed on the inside, with space allowed to engrave a loved-one’s name.

“I wanted a symbolic piece of jewelry created in shining metals,” Bonnie comments, “that would memorialize my father’s camp experiences, celebrate the courage of all survivors, while honoring victims who have perished under genocidal regimes worldwide. This collection enables me to fulfill my father’s wish to heal hatred, and educate and empower others against such atrocities.”

A percentage of the bracelets’ purchases are donated to non-profits who defend genocide victims. More information can be found at www.irememberbracelet.com.

From his time in Auschwitz (prisoner # 81481), Bonnie’s father would say that it taught him how to “Make my love useful.” His words will remain with her forever.

Bonnie continues his legacy by speaking out, making a difference in serving others, and by educating people about global genocide.

(Bonnie’s petition:  https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CRECB-2001-pt1/pdf/CRECB-2001-pt1-Pg1043.pdf

Media Contact
Anna Ray-Jones, I Remember & Company LLC
arjones@donleycomm.com
201-519-8538

HAMEC and Or Hadash Yom HaShoah livestream program, May 1 at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time

Join HAMEC and Or Hadash on Sunday, May 1 at 10:30 a.m. for a special Yom HaShoah livestream commemoration featuring Holocaust Survivor Daniel Goldsmith.

Click for Event Link.

Daniel Goldsmith was born in Antwerp, Belgium. His father was a plumber and his mother a homemaker. He was 8 years old when the German army invaded in May 1940. His family tried to flee to France but was forced to return to Antwerp. In August 1942 his father was placed in a forced labor camp and his mother was forced to sell some of his tools to buy food for Daniel and his sister, Lillian.

Download Danny’s biography here (pdf).

Wherever you are, our Survivors and Liberators are ready to address your school, congregation or civic group.

Holocaust Memorial, Perth, Australia. Photo: Bryan Hardy
https://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/conflict/genocide/display/61002-holocaust-memorial

More and more school districts and States are requiring Holocaust education. HAMEC can provide virtual programs for your school, congregation and civic group. Wherever you are – be it the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Israel, India, Brazil, Australia, Nigeria or Poland –  we can serve you world-wide.

Through Google Meet, Skype and Zoom, we can bring the latest in Holocaust education to your school.  Request a program today.

Hate never takes a vacation and neither do we.

Letter from Kyiv: The Holocaust Memorial undone by another war.

After eighty years, the site of a mass execution of Jews was about to be commemorated. Then Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

By MASHA GESSEN, The New Yorker, April 18, 2022. Click for full report.

The Mirror Field installation at the Babyn Yar site aims to achieve an immersive effect.

In late September, 1941, after months of bombing and weeks of siege, German troops entered the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. The brass seized the most desirable offices and apartments and began their occupation. Rank-and-file Germans took over the poorer areas, robbing the residents of what little they had left after the siege.

On the afternoon of September 24th, there were explosions along Khreschyatyk, Kyiv’s central avenue, which continued for four days and set off a massive fire. Before retreating, the Soviets had mined the city. An area the size of Manhattan’s financial district was decimated; the rubble of destroyed buildings rendered streets unrecognizable and impassable. The ruins smoldered for weeks. The number of victims of the blasts and fires is unknown, but likely included more Ukrainian civilians than German troops.

On September 28th, the Germans papered the city with flyers instructing “all Jews of the city of Kyiv and its environs” to report to the corner of Melnikova and Dehtiarivska Streets, on the outskirts of town, by eight the following morning. They were to bring “documents, money, valuables, warm clothing, linens, etc.” The notices were unambiguous: “Those Jews who do not carry out this order and are found elsewhere will be shot dead.” The gathering place was near two cemeteries—one Russian, the other Jewish—and a railroad station. Many people assumed that the Jews of Kyiv were being deported, probably in retribution for the mining of the city.

More than two hundred and twenty-four thousand Jews lived in Kyiv before the war, according to a 1939 census. Many Jewish men and women joined the Red Army; others, who had connections or decent jobs, evacuated before the Germans entered the city. Some who remained disobeyed the order and went into hiding. Those who did report to the corner of Melnikova and Dehtiarivska Streets as instructed were, for the most part, the poor, the sick, the very young, and the elderly. German soldiers beat them with sticks, confiscated their belongings, and marched them to the edge of a deep ravine called Babyn Yar, where they were stripped naked and shot. Thirty-three thousand seven hundred and seventy-one Jews were murdered at Babyn Yar in thirty-six hours. This was among the first acts of mass murder of Jews during the Second World War, and it remained the biggest single mass execution of the Holocaust. After the massacre, the Germans continued to use the ravine as an execution site for Jews, Roma, the mentally ill, and others. In 1942, Germany established a P.O.W. camp next to Babyn Yar. When Soviet troops were poised to retake the city, in 1943, German soldiers ordered the inmates to remove bodies from the ravine and burn them.

After reclaiming Kyiv, Soviet authorities gave a group of foreign journalists a tour of Babyn Yar. The footage of that tour, along with pictures taken earlier by a Nazi photographer and a number of photos taken by a special Soviet state commission which were kept secret for seventy years, made up the visual record from the time. In 1946, while the Nuremberg trials were under way, a court in Kyiv tried fifteen German officers who had committed atrocities in Ukraine. Several witnesses and survivors testified. The court sentenced twelve of the defendants to death; they were hanged in the city’s central square, now known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or Independence Square. But following those executions the Soviet Union banned any public discussion of what had happened to Kyiv’s Jews.

Babyn Yar was more than forty yards deep and stretched the length of several city blocks. Soviet authorities decided to fill it in by directing wastewater mixed with clay from nearby brickmaking plants to the ravine. In the early nineteen-fifties, a dam was constructed to contain the flow, turning the ravine into a murky lake. On March 13, 1961, the dam burst. The ensuing mudslide killed hundreds of people; their remains mixed with the bones of those who had been shot by the Germans.

For forty-five years after the end of the Second World War, the Soviet Union censored all documentation of the Holocaust, including any attempt to memorialize Babyn Yar. Even after the collapse of the U.S.S.R., twenty-five more years passed before a comprehensive memorial effort began. Then came a new war in Europe––Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

German forces carried out thousands of mass shootings of Jews in Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, western Russia, and the eastern territories of Poland, in what has become known as the Holocaust by bullets. German soldiers and police, as well as contingents of local collaborators, murdered more than two million Jews. For decades following the war, none of the killing sites were marked as places of Jewish extermination. A group of Soviet Jewish writers––including Vasily Grossman, Margarita Aliger, and Ilya Ehrenburg––assembled a compendium of testimony and documents, but censors banned its publication. According to Soviet historiography, the Nazis had targeted all Soviet citizens equally. “If you emphasized Jewish losses, you were a bourgeois nationalist,” Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern, a professor of Jewish studies and history at Northwestern University, who grew up in Kyiv, told me.

Click to read the rest of the report.