On the eve of Yom Kippur when all Jews must prepare for judgement before “the throne of God” and when contrition for sins is sought, we should remember that 29 September was the 81st anniversary of one of the worst massacres in Ukrainian history. On this day 34,000 Jewish men, women and children were herded into the Babi Yar (Old Crone) ravine and murdered by a hail of bullets fired by einsatzgruppen death squads and Nazi-led SS divisions of Ukrainian collaborators who also provided guards for the adjoining Syretz concentration camp.

At this infamous site it is estimated that during WWII some 60,000 Soviet prisoners of war were executed plus about 30,000 Russian speaking east Ukrainians before the Germans were driven from this tortured country. These numbers would have included an unspecified number of Jews who had fled eastwards in 1940 as well as Roma, Tatars and other minorities all of whom are recorded as having suffered dreadful persecution in the narrative of the Ukrainian tragedy.

A tragedy which is now being repeated with six months of pointless, obscene war which has ruined the peaceful lives of countless civilians and has no apparent purpose other than to bring a strange kudos to ruthless autocrats and their acolytes.

May the slain rest peacefully in our remembrance.

by email, Roberto Cavaleiro, Tomar