A picturesque ravine situated in the Syrets suburb of the city of Kiev (Kyiv). It was about three kilometres long, over fifty metres deep and separated from the residential area by the local Jewish cemetery and a civilian prison. Soon after the German takeover a series of horrific explosions rocked the city demolishing a number of buildings that housed the German administration and the army hierarchy.
On September 26, the military governor, Major General Friedrich Georg Eberhardt, decided that in retaliation for the atrocity all the Jews in Kiev were to be put to death. There, on September 29/30, the SS Einsatzgruppe C, with the help of the Ukrainian police, herded the whole Jewish population of Kiev and the surrounding area into the ravine and systematically began to slaughter the entire 33,771 souls.
The killings took two whole days and nights the victims being machine-gunned and their bodies hurled into the ravine. A layer of sand then covered the corpses before the next batch of naked victims were brought in. All Monies, valuables and clothing from the victims were distributed among the ethnic Germans living in the area.
In the months that followed, thousands of Gypsies and Russian P.O.W.s were slaughtered here. In August, 1943, as the Soviet Army began its march westwards the decision was taken to erase all evidence of the mass killings, in fact, to efface it from history. Russian prisoners and 327 men, including 100 Jews, from the nearby slave camp at Syretsk began the task of digging up the bodies.
The remains were then burned in pyres, built on slab gravestones taken from the Jewish cemetery, each pyre containing around 2,000 corpses. This gruesome task ended on September 19, 1943. Only fourteen of the 327 slave labourers survived by escaping from Babi Yar. Later, the SS brought in excavators and bulldozers and the ravine was again filled in. In early October, Moscow informed the outside world of the discovery of the mass graves.
The West, mistrustful of the Russians, dismissed the news as 'products of the Slavic imagination'. During the 778 days of the German occupation of Kiev, many thousands of Russian P.O.W.s, Ukrainians, Gypsies and other nationalities, were murdered at Babi Yar. Of a total population of around 900,000, only 180,000 were living in Kiev at the end of the German occupation.
SS Brigdefuhrer Paul Blobel, commander of Sonderkomando 4a was later brought to trial and at Nuremberg and sentenced to death. He was hanged in June 1951. In 1976, a 15 metre high bronze memorial 'To the victims of Fascism' was unveiled on the site to commemorate the Russian P.O.W.s and the 'People of Kiev' who were killed there. However, no reference is made to the Jews or number of Jewish dead.