Kyiv, September 22, 2016. On September 29, 2016 will mark the 75th anniversary of Babyn Yar tragedy. During the upcoming week Kyiv will host a series of commemorative events. The events include a youth conference, a public symposium, commemoration of the victims in public space and a commemorative concert, announced Prof. Paul Robert Magocsi, Member of the Board of Ukrainian Jewish Encounter, Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Toronto, at a press briefing held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “The aim of our event is also to show the rest of the world how Ukraine as a democratic state deals with issues not only of the present, but also of the past, despite the way it is not an easy thing to do when the country is at war. This is a mark of sophistication and already a growth – that a country which has incredibly difficult problems still, at the same time, can reflect on its historical past and on the need to do justice to all of its citizens, past or present”, said Mr. Magocsi.
According to him, the youth conference, which will take place on September 24-28, will look at the legacy of Babyn Yar. Young people from Ukraine, North America, Europe and Israel will participate in a series of meetings. Roundtable discussions and public lectures will address not just historical issues and the Holocaust, but also current problems in Ukraine and in the world.
The symposium for the academic community and the general public, taking place on September 26-27, will address the reflection of Babyn Yar in arts and culture, international law and memory, said Mr. Magocsi. The key speakers include Timothy Snyder, Karel Berkhoff, Norman Naimark, and Shimon Redlich, Holocaust survivor. Dr. Vladyslav Hrynevych, senior research fellow at the Jewish History & Culture Department at Kuras Institute of Political and Ethnic Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, said that a new memorial book on Babyn Yar will be presented during the symposium. The book is available in Ukrainian and in English. “This is the most modern and complex representation of Babyn Yar tragedy in the context of other problems related to it: the events that preceded, the tragedy itself and the events that followed. The book raises issues of cultural and political memory, of lessons learnt from Babyn Yar tragedy. We are talking not only about history – these lessons are of immediate importance at present, when the undeclared war goes on, when Crimea is occupied, when borders are neglected and lessons of the World War II are forgotten,” said Dr. Hrynevych.
The third component of commemorative events will be the presentation of winners of the international landscape design competition to create a memorial park at Babyn Yar, from Slovenia, France and from the USA. The best projects will be presented to the public on September 28. After that, they will be exposed in the Museum of Kyiv History until November 27. “This is a contest of ideas that are to become projects in the future. We hope that these commemorative events will motivate the authorities and the general public to change fundamentally their approach to Babyn Yar, to consider it not only as a place where a new memorial or museum could be built, but as an integral space where people could feel all the depth of the tragedy, the dramatic and difficult story of Babyn Yar,” explained Dr. Vitaliy Nakhmanovych, executive secretary of the Public Committee for Commemoration of Babyn Yar Victims, senior research fellow at the Museum of Kyiv History.
The forth component of the program will be the commemorative concert at Kyiv National Opera, held on September 29. It will engage artists from all over the world. There will be Hamburg Symphony Orchestra and the renowned Ukrainian Dumka Chorus, Ukrainian conductor Oksana Lyniv, who works with the Bavarian State Opera, as well as the British opera singer of Ukrainian descent, Paul Hunka. The concert program includes instrumental performance of a Jewish prayer “Kol Nidre” by the composer Max Bruch, the Babyn Yar Kaddish Requiem by Yevhen Stankovych and the famous Requiem by Johannes Brahms. “We will start a new genre. This will be not simply a concert, simply a choir or an orchestra, but a dramatic performance that integrates all these elements in one performance. We want to deliver a direct message that would best target the audience”, said Mr. Hunka.
The commemorative events are organized by the Canadian charity foundation “Ukrainian Jewish Encounter” in partnership with the World Jewish Congress, the Ukrainian government and a number of other Ukrainian, Jewish and diaspora organizations. The accreditation for the events starts on September 25 in the Ukrainian House (Kreschatyk St., 2).