Babyn Yar memorial park to create infrastructure for commemorating the victims of Nazi occupation – Volodymyr Vyatrovych


Organizers, jury members announce results of the architectural competition for construction of the Babyn Yar Memorial Park. Seven of the best ideas are chosen as winners. Implemented into practice they are to unite memories of various social groups, existing monuments and are to be built into one commemoration space.  

Kyiv, June 21, 2016. In the framework of commemoration of the Babyn Yar tragedy on the occasion of its 75th anniversary, an international architectural competition of ideas “Memorial park: Babyn Yar – the Dorohozhychi necropolis” was held in Ukraine. The competition was organized and financed by the Ukrainian-Jewish encounter, said Natalia Fedushchak, the initiative’s communications director speaking at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

“We need to create a commemoration infrastructure that will be our basis for commemoration of victims of the Babyn Yar between the periods when official events are held at the highest state level. […] The competition will give an opportunity to create the framework that is going to unite various memories about one and the same tragic place for various national and social groups. It will not let these conflicts unfold and the memories compete,” Volodymyr Vyatrovych, Head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory is convinced. He emphasized one of the projects that attempts to show Babyn Yar as a place of a silenced crime, for many this place is yet to carry any message about these tragic events.

According to Dr. Vitaliy Nakhmanovych, Executive Secretary of the Public Committee for the Commemoration of Victims of Babyn Yar, there are currently over 30 different monuments in the Babyn Yar park that commemorate various groups gunned down during the Nazi occupation. “All of them are the history of Babyn Yar that reflect tensions in Ukrainian society, lack of readiness on our side to find certain common forms of a common memory today. All these monuments have to stay. By setting up a park we will not change Ukrainian society. This competition will create an open space for what is already there and for what is going to be built, it will also introduce new rules,” explained Nakhmanovych. There is no common position between the communities. That’s why it is impossible to suggest a project that is going to resolve the issue of memorialization of Babyn Yar once and for all. However, it is possible to create a memorial space where further installation of monuments and holding of ceremonies would take place based on understanding of this place’s common value. It means adding something common to separated memories, as Ukraine has been built by various communities,” said Nakhmanovych.

Mykhaylo Hershenzon, jury member, founder and head of the architectural bureau, noted, that the jury made a decision to not award the first prize to anyone. Instead seven of the best ideas were chosen, and will be combined. Several criteria were used while choosing the winners. “We defined five criteria. They are integration into social infrastructure, mandatory information signage and marking of the space, inclusion of contemporary memorials into the tolerant context so that they complement and not interfere with each other. Important criterion includes no heavy constructions. And ideas that included the landscape component were given preference,” explained Volodymyr Pryimak, jury member of the Arch-Design Bureau.

Vladyslav Hrynevych, jury member and senior researcher at the Department for Jewish history and culture at the Kuras Institute of Political and Ethnic Studies of the National Academy of Sciences is convinced that the monument that has been standing in the park since the Soviet times has nothing to do with the Jewish people, while the Jewish tragedy is at the core of the Babyn Yar tragedy. “Ukraine is moving to Europe and we have to be creating our own historic memory in accordance with the European values. The Holocaust is now part of the European identity as one of repentance,” noted Hrynevych.  

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