President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy together with Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara paid tribute to the victims of the Babyn Yar tragedy.
“There are only two emotions now. Deep sadness and pain which breaks my heart. Today we recall the events of 1941 and experience this terrifying and tragic page of the common past of the Ukrainian and Jewish nations,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
The President recalled that 78 years ago, German occupation troops carried out mass execution in Babyn Yar. According to him, these horrific events can be described as three “impossible”: impossible to understand, impossible to forget and forgive, impossible to allow again.
The Head of State stressed that it was impossible to understand the inhuman desire to exterminate people on ethnic, national or political grounds, regardless of gender and age. “There was a horrifying endless line of people who did not understand that they were led to death. The overwhelming majority of those killed were Jewish,” he said.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy added that having killed all the Jews they could find, the Nazis began to kill the others – war prisoners, Roma and Ukrainians who were fighting for their country.
“The totalitarian Soviet regime has tabooed such topics as the Holocaust, Babyn Yar, the Holodomor, and has long been silent on the true scale of those crimes. According to various sources, during the Nazi occupation, from 70 to 200 thousand people were killed in Babyn Yar. And it’s not just statistics,” the President emphasized.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy is convinced that the Ukrainian people will always remember these crimes against humanity and will not forget what xenophobia and racism lead to. He also noted the respect and memory of the Righteous Among the Nations – courageous people who did not stand aside and saved Jews at the risk of their lives. The President recalled that Yad Vashem – the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel had honored more than two and a half thousand Ukrainians with the title of Righteous Among the Nations. Ukraine ranks fourth in the world in terms of the number of people who have received this title.
“The memory of the victims should serve as a warning that the ideology of intolerance and violence takes away the most precious and valuable – human life. Today, in Babyn Yar, we call on the international community to unite efforts to prevent any manifestation of antisemitism and intolerance on racial or national grounds. Ukraine, together with the entire civilized world, demonstrates unity and guards humanism, tolerance, freedom and democracy. For the sake of the third “impossible” – impossible to allow again,” the President summarized.
For his part, Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the President and the Government of Ukraine for preserving the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. “You really make a significant contribution to the fight against antisemitism,” he said.
The Israeli Prime Minister asked to continue honoring the memory of the Holocaust victims in Babyn Yar, remember the tragedy, so that it does not happen again.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Benjamin Netanyahu walked the alley to the Menorah memorial sign on the territory of the National Historical and Memorial Reserve “Babyn Yar”. Wreaths from the President of Ukraine and the Prime Minister of the State of Israel were placed near the memorial.