I had planned to do a blog on the horrors of Babi Yar, but I decided against it. Firstly because there is not one word I could write which best describes the depravities committed by the Nazis,both German and Ukrainian.
(Notice dated September 28, 1941 in Russian, Ukrainian with German translation ordering all Kievan Jews to assemble for supposed resettlement)
Secondly there are so many comprehensive records and documentaries about it , and I just couldn’t do justice to any of them.
I will keep this blog short and focus on those tasked to destroy the evidence of the atrocities.
Sonderaktion 1005 consisted of Jewish inmates tasked to exhume the bodies of the Babi Yar massacres and burn the remains and scatter the ashes on farms nearby.
Before the Germans retreated from Kiev, they attempted to hide the atrocities they had committed at Babi Yar. Members od Sonderaktion 1005 who were inmates at Syrets concentration camp decided enough is enough and staged a revolt.
A number of prisoners, who had been involved in the exhumations, secretly armed themselves with tools and bits of metal they found and conceal. They picked locks with keys they had found on the exhumed bodies..
The best way to describe the emotional and physical state of mind of these men is in a quote from historian Reuben Ainsztein.
“in those half-naked men who reeked of putrefying flesh, whose bodies were eaten by scabies and covered with a layer of mud and soot, and of whose physical strength so little remained, there survived a spirit that defied everything that the Nazis’ New Order had done or could do to them. In the men whom the SS men saw only as walking corpses, there matured a determination that at least one of them must survive to tell the world about what happened in Babi Yar.”
On the night of September 29, 1943, while the camp was being dismantled, the inmate revolt broke out. Prisoners overpowered the guards using the tools and scraps of metal they found and their bare hands. Fifteen people managed to escape.
One of the escapees,Vladimir Davіdov, was a witness at the Nuremberg trials.
I know there are people who condemn the actions of the Sonderaktiions, or Sonder kommandos, they say they were traitors and collaborators, But the people who condemn them are usually people who never had to face a situation where you had to choose between life and death. For that is the choice these men had, life or death. Work for us and live or die by execution or in the gas chambers.
If I had been put in that situation, I more then likely would have done the same. At least they lived to tell the stories and provide evidence.
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