The first of the Babi Yar massacres was particularly sickening because the victims were given some hope before they were butchered.I decided not to put any pictures that are too disturbing in this blog. The story is disturbing enough
Axis forces, mainly German, occupied Kiev on 19 September 1941. Between 20 and 28 September, explosives planted by the Soviet NKVD caused extensive damage in the city; on 24 September an explosion rocked Rear Headquarters Army Group South.Two days later, on 26 September, Maj. Gen. Kurt Eberhard, the military governor, and SS-Obergruppenführer Friedrich Jeckeln, the SS and Police Leader met at Rear Headquarters Army Group South.
There, they made the decision to exterminate the Jews of Kiev, claiming that it was in retaliation for the explosions.Also present were SS-Standartenführer Paul Blobel, commander of Sonderkommando 4c, and his superior, SS-Brigadeführer Dr. Otto Rasch, commander of Einsatzgruppe C. The mass killing would be carried out by units under the command of Rasch and Blobel, who were ultimately responsible for a number of atrocities in Ukraine in the summer and autumn of 1941.
The implementation of the order was entrusted to Sonderkommando 4a, commanded by Blobel, under the general command of Friedrich Jeckeln.This unit consisted of SD and Sipo, the third company of the Special Duties Waffen-SS battalion, and a platoon of the 9th Police Battalion. Police Battalion 45, commanded by Major Besser, conducted the massacre, supported by members of a Waffen-SS battalion. Contrary to the myth of the “clean Wehrmacht”, the Sixth Army under Walter von Reichenau worked together with the SS and SD to plan the mass murder of the Jews of Kiev.
An order was posted:
“All Jews of the city of Kiev and its vicinity must appear on Monday, September 29, by 8 o’clock in the morning at the corner of Mel’nikova and Dorohozhytska streets (near the Viis’kove 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.”
On 29 and 30 September 1941, a special team of German SS troops supported by other German units and local collaborators murdered 33,771 Jewish civilians after taking them to the ravine.
The commander of the Einsatzkommando reported two days later:
The difficulties resulting from such a large scale action—in particular concerning the seizure—were overcome in Kiev by requesting the Jewish population through wall posters to move. Although only a participation of approximately 5,000 to 6,000 Jews had been expected at first, more than 30,000 Jews arrived who, until the very moment of their execution, still believed in their resettlement, thanks to an extremely clever organization.
According to the testimony of a truck driver named Hofer, victims were ordered to undress and were beaten if they resisted.
The crowd was large enough that most of the victims could not have known what was happening until it was too late; by the time they heard the machine gun fire, there was no chance to escape. All were driven down a corridor of soldiers, in groups of ten, and then shot.
In the evening, the Germans undermined the wall of the ravine and buried the people under the thick layers of earth.According to the Einsatzgruppe’s Operational Situation Report, 33,771 Jews from Kiev and its suburbs were systematically shot dead by machine-gun fire at Babi Yar on 29 September and 30 September 1941.
The money, valuables, underwear and clothing of the murdered victims were turned over to the local ethnic Germans and to the Nazi administration of the city.Wounded victims were buried alive in the ravine along with the rest of the bodies.
Dina Pronicheva, an actress of the Kiev Puppet Theatre, and a survivor.Gave testimony during on 24 January 1946, at a Kiev war-crimes trial of fifteen members of the German police responsible for the occupied Kiev region.
She was one of those ordered to march to the ravine, to be forced to undress and then be shot. Jumping before being shot and falling on other bodies, she played dead in a pile of corpses.
She held perfectly still while the Nazis continued to shoot the wounded or gasping victims. Although the SS had covered the mass grave with earth, she eventually managed to climb through the soil and escape. Since it was dark, she had to avoid the torches of the Nazis finishing off the remaining victims still alive, wounded and gasping in the grave. She was one of the very few survivors of the massacre and later related her horrifying story to Kuznetsov. At least 29 survivors are known.