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Brutal History of Kiev Since September 1941~ Caution Graphic

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Nearly seventy three years ago, on the outskirts of a European capitol, one of the worst atrocities in all of humanity was carried out in a dry ravine called Babi Yar. German troops had entered the city on September 19, 1941. A week later, the following notice was posted throughout the town:

“All Jews of the city and its vicinity must appear on Monday, September 29, by 8 o'clock in the morning at the corner of Mel'nikova and Doktorivska streets (near the cemetery). Bring documents, money and valuables, and also warm clothing, linen, etc. Any Jews who do not follow this order and are found elsewhere will be shot. Any civilians who enter the dwellings left by Jews and appropriate the things in them will be shot.”

At the appointed hour, nearly 34,000 Jews left their homes and gathered at the designated spot, many carrying suitcases with clothing and valuables, left to wonder about where they were to be resettled. They were then marched to a staging area near the ravine, where they were ordered to strip naked and turn over all of their possessions. Then the frightened, naked people – men, women and children – were ordered in groups to walk to Babi Yar, where they were met by SS troops from Sonderkommando 4a. One by one, they were shot in the neck with submachine guns.
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As the carnage continued, the bodies piled up. As each successive group was led to their execution, they were ordered to lay on top of the other bodies, some dead, some dying, until German troops, walking on top of the bodies, could shoot them in the head.

For two days, the Germans worked with characteristic and brutal efficiency and by the evening of September 30th, 33,771 people – the entire Jewish population of the city - lay dead or dying in the ravine, soon to be buried under piles of dirt.

That city was Kiev, capitol of Ukraine.

While we ponder the geopolitical and strategic potentialities of the current crisis in Ukraine, we would do well to remind our leaders that both the living and the dead do have voices. Those who have suffered the consequences when vain and foolish men stumbled into war cry out to us today and remind us that nothing is ever to be gained by the slaughter of innocents. Those from 70 years ago who wantonly murdered children to temporarily reign over a parcel of ground are all gone now, their footholds having vanished with the passage of time. All power eventually rests in the hands of God.
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The people of Ukraine suffered terribly in the past century at the hands of Stalin and Hitler, each supremely indifferent to that suffering. If, in the current crisis, vain and foolish men once again stumble into war, if image and ego and political posturing take precedence over the lives and welfare of people (which is how it always plays out), there will be no winners, only losers. And the ones who will lose the most are the ones with the least to gain – the innocent, who merely wish to live free lives, reduced instead to nameless pawns of war.

The dead at Babi Yar woke up one morning not knowing it would be their last. As competing sides today jockey and jostle for position and advantage, one wonders what the people of Kiev ponder each morning as the sun lights the sky.



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