Plans for what will be one of the world’s largest Holocaust memorial centres have been revealed at the site of the Babyn Yar massacre near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.
The museum complex, which is being constructed over a huge 150-hectare site, will include a dozen buildings, commemorating the tens of thousands murdered in the infamous ravine over just two days in 1941.
Ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January, images were released showing plans for the area, where there is already an existing memorial installation.
The Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Centre (BYHMC) said the buildings would include two museums – one to commemorate the Babyn Yar massacre and one to commemorate the Holocaust of Ukrainian and Eastern European Jewry.
Another structure will show the names of the victims, while elsewhere there will be a spiritual centre including a synagogue, church, and mosque, plus an educational and scientific research centre, a multi-media centre, a learning and recreational space for children, and an information and conference centre for the wider public.
“The concept is both interesting and amazing,” said BYHMC chair Natan Sharansky, a famous freedom fighter who was born in the Ukraine.
“It demonstrates how the museum and educational centre will not only both be high quality, but at the same time different from many other Holocaust centres. As such, it will help fill a vacuum in the field of Holocaust studies.”
Sharansky, a world-renowned human rights activist who spent years in a Russian prison before finally being freed, said he knew nothing about the Babyn Yar massacre when he was growing up because of the Soviet policy of suppressing information about the tragedy.
The synagogue will be the first at the site, and is scheduled to be completed this September, ahead of the 80th anniversary of the massacre, during which 33,771 Jews were rounded up and shot at the Babyn Yar ravine by the Nazis from 29-30 September 1941.
In the months that followed, tens of thousands of Ukrainians, Roma, and others were shot and killed there throughout the Nazi occupation of Kyiv. The estimated number of victims is around 100,000, making it Europe’s largest mass grave.
The need for education is now urgent, say supporters. A recent survey showed just 16 percent of Ukrainian respondents knew the most pertinent details of the Holocaust.
Supervisory Board member Irina Bokova, a former director-deneral of UNESCO, said: “Various aspects of the concept are striking. It is both innovative and at the same time includes an emotional component, which is important.
“I know from my work at UNESCO that it is not easy to retain memory.”
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