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Ukraine honors people who saved Jews during Holocaust at new Babyn Yar synagogue

Ukraine honors people who saved Jews during Holocaust at new Babyn Yar synagogue
Ukraine honors people who saved Jews during Holocaust at new Babyn Yar synagogue
Written by Harry Johnson

The ceremony marked the first Remembrance Day for Ukrainians who rescued Jews during World War II.

  • Babyn Yar became a terrible symbol of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe
  • Ukraine’s parliament passed a resolution designating 14 May as an annual commemoration to honor their actions
  • Following World War II, a total of 2,659 Ukrainians were awarded the prestigious title of “Righteous Among the Nations” by Israel’s Yad Vashem

At a ceremony hosted by the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center (BYHMC), Ukraine’s Head of the Presidential Office of Ukraine Andrii Yermak, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal, and Ukraine’s Minister of Culture and Information Policy Oleksandr Tkachenko honored Ukrainians who saved Jews during the Holocaust. Mr. Yermak announced that those still alive will receive a lifelong monthly state stipend, in recognition of their heroism.

The ceremony marked the first Remembrance Day for Ukrainians who rescued Jews during World War II. Earlier this year, Ukraine’s parliament passed a resolution designating 14 May as an annual commemoration to honor their actions.

Head of the Presidential Office of Ukraine Andrii Yermak commented, “Babyn Yar became a terrible symbol of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe because of the massacre of World War II. In just two days, almost 34,000 Jews from Kyiv were killed. Today, it is important to honor the memory of these people and praise those who saved them at the risk of their own lives. Express gratitude for the hope they have given back to the world. And I hope that future generations will remember this feat for centuries.”

Following World War II, a total of 2,659 Ukrainians were awarded the prestigious title of “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. Of all countries, Ukraine has the fourth largest number of “Righteous Among the Nations.” However, it is believed that a far greater number of Ukrainians risked their lives and those of their families to save Jews from the Nazis. BYHMC is working to uncover many of these unknown stories.

At the ceremony, it was announced that the 18 Ukrainian “Righteous Among the Nations” who remain alive today, will each be recognized by the state for their bravery with a monthly state stipend for the remainder of their lives.

Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmygal said, “This landmark event is a clear indication that the Ukrainian public consciousness affirms high ideals of respect for human life and recognition of responsibility and memory, which contribute to the construction of a free, democratic society…On the Day of Remembrance of Ukrainians who saved Jews during the Second World War, we honor the feat of these courageous people who have become and remain for us an example of humanity and self-sacrifice.”