KYIV, Ukraine, Jan. 25, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center (BYHMC) unveiled its plans for constructing one of the world’s largest Holocaust memorial centers. The complex will be built at Babyn Yar, over an area of 150 hectares. It will include a dozen buildings in memory of the 33,771 Jewish victims were shot at the Babyn Yar ravine by the Nazis during just two days, 29 and 30 September 1941 and estimated number of 100,000 victims: Jews, Ukrainians, Roma, mentally ill and others murdered at Babyn Yar, making it Europe’s largest mass grave and in the memory of 1.5 million Jews murdered in similar Nazi mass shootings across Ukraine and Eastern Europe.
The buildings which will be erected as part of the complex include: A museum to commemorate the Babyn Yar massacre; a museum to commemorate the Holocaust of Ukrainian and Eastern European Jewry as a whole; a structure depicting the names of the victims; a religious/spiritual center including a synagogue, church and mosque; an educational and scientific research center; a multi-media center; a learning and recreational space for children; an information and conference center and more. The very first synagogue at the site, plus an additional exhibition space are scheduled to be completed this year, ahead of the eightieth anniversary of the Babyn Yar massacre, which will be commemorated in September.
Plans for the museum complex are being formulated by Ilya Khrzhanovsky, BYHMC’s Artistic Director, in cooperation with international experts in museum development, including: Nick Axel – Head of the architectural design department at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam; Robert Jan Van Pelt – Professor at the University of Waterloo, who chaired the working group which created the master plan for the future Auschwitz Museum; Troy Conrad Therrien – Chief Curator of Architecture and Digital Initiatives at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Professor at Columbia University; Ines Weizman – Head of the MPhil/PhD Architecture Program at London’s Royal College of Art; Barbara Holzer – Urban planning expert and Professor of Architecture and Interior Design at the Peter Behrens School of Art in Düsseldorf (DE) and Adrien Gardere – A designer and museographer, who has designed several prestigious museums, such as the Louvre-Lens in France (2012) and the Cairo Islamic Art Museum in Egypt (2010); Marina Abramovic – An internationally acclaimed pioneer of performance art, who is also a writer and filmmaker. The team also includes talented young Ukrainian experts in various fields. Maks Rokhmaniyko – Architect and 3D model developer; Anna Furman – Director of the BYHMC Names Project; Oleg Shovenko – Head Manager of the BYHMC library and publishing project and Anna Kamyshan – Head Manager of the BYHMC Architectural and Design Department.
In September 2020, Ukraine’s government represented by the Minister of Culture Oleksandr Tkachenko, under the auspices of the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, signed a memorandum of understanding and cooperation with BYHMC, represented by Supervisory Board member Ronald S. Lauder, to promote the construction of a fitting memorial to the Babyn Yar tragedy.
Last month BYHMC presented its plans for the Memorial Center to President Zelensky and the Minister of Culture. The President welcomed the plans and instructed the Minister of Culture to promote the opening of a synagogue and an additional exhibition space in the complex during this year, which marks eighty years since the Babyn Yar massacre. Doing so during this eightieth anniversary year, will enable residents of the Ukraine and visitors from all over the world to see, touch and feel the horror which took place there and was subsequently silenced.
Ilya Khrzhanovsky and his team of international experts presented its concept for the Memorial Center to the Supervisory Board of BYHMC. The Supervisory Board, comprised of eminent international figures, enthusiastically welcomed the plans.
Underscoring the need for such a memorial, a recent survey in Ukraine, conducted to coincide with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, revealed that 68 per cent of respondents believe the memory of twentieth century genocides such as the Holocaust is fading. Meanwhile, just 16 per cent of respondents knew that more than one million Jews were shot dead near their homes during the Holocaust.
The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky: “The Babyn Yar Massacre and the Holocaust of the Jews of Ukraine are an important and tragic chapter in the history of our country. The establishment of the Babyn Yar Memorial Center, the construction of which will begin during the 80th year since the terrible massacre, is essential for the commemoration of the Holocaust. As Europe’s largest mass grave, Babyn Yar represents unimaginable destruction. Thanks to these plans, it will become a place of peace, reflection and tranquility.”
Head of the Presidential Administration, Andrii Yermak: “As we enter this eightieth anniversary year since the massacre at Babyn Yar, it is more important than ever that we properly remember the tragedy and honor its victims. The crimes that took place at Babyn Yar were a national tragedy and as a country, we are committed to making sure it is fittingly commemorated. Approving these plans for establishing a world-class museum complex, is a significant and meaningful step towards doing this.”
The Artistic Director of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, Ilya Khrzhanovsky: “The decision to establish a museum complex expanding across the entire territory where one of the greatest tragedies of the Holocaust took place, was taken in order to build a place of commemoration and learning, of observation and doubt. It will transform a place of killing and destruction into a sacred space. It is designed in a way that everyone can connect to a life that was and is no longer. The construction of this complex will keep the story of the Jews of Ukraine and Eastern Europe alive.”
The chair of the Supervisory Board of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, Natan Sharansky: “The concept which was presented is both very interesting and amazing. It demonstrates how the museum and educational center will not only both be high quality, but at the same time different from many other Holocaust centers. As such, it will help fill a vacuum in the field of Holocaust studies.”
BYHMC is already operating a series of research and education programs. Through the Center’s work, around 20,000 previously unknown names of massacre victims have been uncovered and verified. Meanwhile, scientific research at the Center has been completed to determine for the first time exactly where the shootings took place in the Babyn Yar Forest. In addition, educational programs have been built together with Yad Vashem and a number of new memorial structures have been erected in the area.
About the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center
The Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Centre https://babynyar.org/en/ is a non-governmental charity whose purpose is to preserve and cultivate the memory of the Holocaust and the Babyn Yar tragedy in Ukraine by turning the Babyn Yar area into a place of remembrance. The Foundation’s mission is to worthily honour the memory of the victims of the tragedy and to contribute to the humanization of society through preserving and studying the history of the Holocaust. A series of commemorations during 2021 will mark the eightieth anniversary of the Babyn Yar tragedy.
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SOURCE Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center