The opening line from Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s most famous poem, “Babi Yar” — “No monument stands over Babi Yar” — may once again be an accurate reflection of reality if Kiev’s municipality carries out its plan to build a hotel on the memorial site of one of the most notorious massacres of Jews during the Holocaust.
On September 29 and 30, 1941, German SS troops, supported by other German units and local collaborators, gathered 33,771 Jewish civilians at the ravine outside Kiev and murdered them with machine guns.
Attempts to commemorate the massacre after the war were thwarted by the Soviet Union.
Yevtushenko, a Russian poet, novelist, essayist, dramatist and film director born July 18, 1933, was politically active during the Khrushchev Thaw. He wrote what would become perhaps his most famous poem, “Babi Yar,” in 1961.
Noting the absence of a memorial in Babi Yar, the poem denounces the Soviet distortion of history concerning the Nazi massacre of Kiev’s Jews as well as anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union.
After the Soviet Union’s collapse, Ukraine set up a monument on the site.
Last week, however, the Kiev municipality approved a plan to build 28 hotels to accommodate the tens of thousands of visitors expected for soccer’s 2012 European Championships. One of these hotels is planned to be set up on the Babi Yar site, now in a residential area of Kiev.
Kiev Mayor Leonid Chernovetskyi has reportedly been interested in turning his city’s remaining green space into real estate and is taking advantage of Euro 2012 to implement his plan, city sources said.
City councilman Sergei Melnik, one of the many who oppose the plan, on Tuesday leaked the details to the media.