Babi Yar is a ravine in Kiev, which is the capital of Ukraine. The Babi Yar ravine is about 150 meters long, about 30 meters wide, and about 15 meters deep.
On September 29th of 1941, Babi Yar became the site of one of the most notorious massacres of the Second World War. The massacres were carried out by German forces trying to invade the Soviet Union.
More than 33,000 Jewish men, women, and children were killed when they were forced to the edge of Babi Yar, then ordered to remove their clothes, then machine gunned into the ravine. The massacre lasted until the following day, because it takes a while to kill that many people, however methodically it was done. The Jewish people were forced to lie down on bodies that were already dead. Then a marksman walked across the bodies and shot each living person in the neck with a submachine gun.
The Jewish massacre at Babi Yar is considered to be the largest single massacre in the history of the Holocaust to that date, although after that, two massacres surpassed it in the number of victims killed. Other massacres also took place at Babi Yar, with a total body count of anywhere from 100,000 to 150,000 for that location. Also killed in the same ravine were communists, Gypsies, and prisoners of war.
The Jewish people of Kiev were asked to go to the Babi Yar ravine for supposed resettlement. When they arrived, they were forced to release all their personal belongings, even their underwear. Belongings were placed in separate piles. Jewelry in one pile, shoes in another pile, coats in another pile, and so on. Once their belongings were taken, more than 30,000 naked Jewish men, women, and children were gunned down and fell into the ravine. Their bodies were covered with dirt and rocks.
There were 29 survivors of the Jewish massacre at Babi Yar. Most of them had fallen into the ravine before being shot, and had played dead on the piles of corpses, remaining still as other bodies fell upon them. Then they were buried under a layer of dirt, but crawled out after the sun went down and the German soldiers had left. Only 29 lived to tell the tragic tale. Someday, some of them would take the witness stand.
Among those responsible for ordering the massacre were Commander Dr. Otto Rasch and Sonderkommando Paul Blobel. Wall posters had requested the Jewish population to move, and gave directions. Although only five or six thousand Jews were expected to show up, more than 30,000 Jews arrived, each of them believing the resettlement story until the moment of their execution. The crowd was large enough that many of these people would not know what was happening until it was too late. By the time they heard the machine guns, there was no escape.
In 2006, some Jewish organizations started to try to identify the victims of the Babi Yar Jewish massacre. So far, only ten percent of the victims have been identified.