Babi Yar Massacre

Nazi forces, mainly German, occupied Kiev on 19 September 1941.

The decision to exterminate the Jews of Kiev was made on September 26, in retaliation for guerrilla attacks against German troops, by the military governor, Maj. Gen. Friedrich Georg Eberhardt and SS-Obergruppenführer Friedrich Jeckeln, the SS and Police Leader at Rear Headquarters Army Group South. Einsatzgruppe C carried out the Babi Yar massacre and a number of other mass atrocities in Ukraine during the summer and fall of 1941. Its commander SS-Brigadefuhrer Dr. Otto Rasch and the officer commanding Sonderkommando 4a, SS-Standartenfuhrer Paul Blobel were at the September 26 meeting as well.

On 29 and 30 September 1941, a special team of German SS troops supported by other German units, local collaborators murdered 33,771 Jewish civilians after taking them to the ravine.

The massacre to come would be the largest single mass killing for which the Nazi regime and its collaborators were responsible during its campaign against the Soviet Union and is considered to be "the largest single massacre in the history of the Holocaust".

The implementation of the order was entrusted to Sonderkommando 4a, commanded by Blobel, under the general command of Friedrich Jeckeln. This unit consisted of SD and Sipo, the third company of the Special Duties Waffen-SS battalion, and a platoon of the 9th Police Battalion. Police Battalion 45, commanded by Major Besser, conducted the massacre, supported by members of a Waffen-SS battalion. Units of the Ukrainian auxiliary police were used to round up and direct the Jews to the location.

It was dark already...They lined us up on a ledge which was so small that we couldn't get much of a footing on it. They began shooting us. I shut my eyes, clenched my fists, tensed all my muscles and took a plunge down before the bullets hit me. It seemed I was flying forever. But I landed safely on the bodies. After a while, when the shooting stopped, I heard the Germans climbing into the ravine. They started finishing off all those who were not dead yet, those who were moaning, hiccuping, tossing, writhing in agony. They ran their flashlights over the bodies and finished off all who moved. I was lying so still without stirring, terrified of giving myself away. I felt I was done for. I decided to keep quiet. They started covering the corpses over with earth. They must have put quite a lot over me because I felt I was beginning to suffocate. But I was afraid to move. I was gasping for breath. I knew I would suffocate. Then I decided it was better to be shot than buried alive. I stirred but I didn't know that it was quite dark already. Using my left arm I managed to move a little way up. Then I took a deep breath, summoned up my waning strength and crawled out from under the cover of earth. It was dark. But all the same it was dangerous to crawl because of the searching beams of flashlight and they continued shooting at those who moaned. They might hit me. So I had to be careful. I was lucky enough to crawl up one of the high walls of the ravine, and straining every nerve and muscle, got out of it.