Putin’s forces have bombed a Holocaust memorial as Ukrainians and Russians fight for control of the capital Kyiv.
The Babyn Yar memorial is located on the biggest mass grave in Europe. In 1941 the Nazis murdered 34,000 Jews over a two day period and tossed their bodies into a ravine.
Putin has repeatedly justified his decision to invade on the grounds that Ukraine needs to “denazify”. However, Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy is himself Jewish, his grandfather fought against the Nazis in the Second World War and lost relatives in the Holocaust.
After news of the attack on the memorial was announced, Mr Zelenskyy took to social media to condemn it:
“To the world: what is the point of saying, ‘Never again’ for 80 years, if the world stays silent when a bomb drops on the same site of Babyn Yar?" he tweeted.
"At least 5 killed. History repeating…”
Just now, a powerful barrage is underway. A missile hit the place where Babyn Yar memorial complex is located! Once again, these barbarians are murdering the victims of Holocaust!
— Andriy Yermak (@AndriyYermak) March 1, 2022
Natan Sharansky, a former head of the Jewish Agency and current chairman of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Advisory Board, was also forthright in his condemnation:
“Putin seeking to distort and manipulate the Holocaust to justify an illegal invasion of a sovereign democratic country is utterly abhorrent,” Mr Sharansky said.
“It is symbolic that he starts attacking Kyiv by bombing the site of the Babyn Yar, the biggest of Nazi massacres.”
Before the war sparked a mass exodus, Ukraine was home to some 400,000 Jews - the fifth largest Jewish population in Europe. Murdered by the Nazis and frowned upon by Soviet authorities, the community was until recently undergoing something of renaissance.
“It feels so wrong for war to come again. Why should Putin do this to us? We are outraged!” 90-year-old Holocaust survivor Igor Davidovich told The Times.
“There is no experience of antisemitism or neo-Nazism here. It is just Putin’s point of view, something he claims as there is no other justification he can come up with.”
Main image: Kyiv, Ukraine. 29th Sep, 2016. People lit the candles next to a Menorah monument at Babyn Yar Memorial Complex in Kyiv. Picture by: Sergii Kharchenko/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News.