To mark the 80th anniversary of the Babyn Yar tragedy, The Book of the Righteous Among the Nations, citizens of Ukraine” will be published; it will be dedicated to Ukrainians who saved Jews during World War II. The book was prepared by the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine in cooperation with the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center.
Non-Jewish Ukrainians played a major role in saving the Jews. After the Second World War, such heroes were awarded the title the Righteous Among the Nations. The decision to honor the Righteous Among the Nations was one of the provisions of the establishment in 1953 of the World Holocaust Remembrance Center Yad Vashem. One of the tasks of the memorial was, on behalf of the State of Israel, to express gratitude to those non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.
The Righteous Among the Nations have often been the only ray of hope for the doomed. They risked their lives and the lives of their relatives to save persecuted Jews. The Proverbs of King Solomon says: “All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart”. These people are righteous according to God’s laws, which are above human standards“, said Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Centre.
Ukraine ranked 4th among all countries in terms of the number of Righteous. At present, according to official Yad Vashem figures only, there are 2,659 Ukrainians who have been awarded the title of the Righteous Among the Nations. However, there were considerably more Ukrainians who saved Jews. Unfortunately, the stories of their exploits remain unknown to this day. At the international level, the main stage of gaining information about the exploits of the Righteous came at a time when the history of the Holocaust in the Soviet Union was being subjected to a policy of neglect and distortion.
“2659 persons – Righteous Among the Nations – are also 2659 dramatic stories, unique examples of courage and heroism. Our Book will contain many of these stories including photographs of the Righteous and the people they saved“, stressed Boris Lozhkin, President of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine.
At the moment, only 18 Ukrainians awarded the title the Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem are still alive.
Babyn Yar became a symbol of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe. On 29-30 September 1941, 33,771 Jews were shot by the Nazis at the Babyn Yar tract in Kyiv. During the occupation of Kyiv from 1941 to 1943, more than 100 thousand people were killed here, most of them were Jews. Roma, prisoners of war, Ukrainians and psychiatric patients were also victims of Babyn Yar.
The Nazis exterminated 1.5 million Jews in Ukraine during World War II.