David Ayzenberg was a Jewish man born in Kiev, the capital city of Soviet Ukraine, in 1926
This movie depicts the atrocities he personally endured and witnessed at the Babi Yar ravine. Ayzenburg lost consciousness and when he came to his senses, found himself laying on top of corpses in the ravine, and the several day journey it took him to finally climb out of the ravine to safety.
Babi Yar is a ravine located approximately 10 kilometers northwest of Kiev’s outskirts. Out of a national population of 875,000, nearly 20 percent of those citizens identified as Jewish, and this number climbed over the course of the war reflecting Jewish refugees from Poland.
After Kiev fell to Nazi rule in 1941, Soviet Secret Police officers (the NKVD) started remotely detonating bombs, intentionally murdering German soldiers and leaving over 25,000 civilians homeless. After that incident, German military governor Kurt Eberhard in concert with the SS and Einsatzgruppen decided the remaining Jews in Kiev should be murdered in retaliation for the deaths of the German soldiers, hoping the bombings would justify the murders of the Jewish population with the general public.
To follow through with the Third Reich’s vision in Ukraine, the Nazis hung posters all over Kiev in the Ukranian, Russian, and German languages that read, "All the Yids of the city of Kiev and its vicinity must appear on Monday September 29, 1941 by 8 a.m. at the corner of Melnikova and Dokhterivskaya streets (next to the cemetery). Bring documents, money and valuables, and also warm clothing, bed linen etc. Any Yids who do not follow this order and are found elsewhere will be shot. Any civilians who enter the dwellings left by Yids and appropriate the things in them will be shot.”
September 29 was no coincidence, but intentionally chosen as this was the date of Yom Kippur. The Nazis had a perverted pride in massacring Jews on one of their Holy Days.
Thus, many Jews were marched in small groups to Babi Yar where the Einsatzgruppen machine-gunned the cold naked prisoners to death, leaving their bodies to fall into the ravine on top of other bodies who had already been shot. A marksman made rounds to finish executing those who did not die a quick death. Sonderkommano 1005 had the grisly task of exhuming and burning the bodies of those massacred at Babi Yar, though it is a miracle some did survive the killing sprees at this grassy ravine.
At least 34,000 Jewish citizens lost their lives at Babi Yar.
Written by Erin Parfet