by Julia Korsunsky

memorial_historyThe story of Drobitky Yar is a very personal one. My daughter and I have visited Drobitsky Yar a few years ago. It took us a while to find the place. Young locals on the streets knew nothing about the Drobitsky Yar. Some older people knew about the winter massacre of 1941–1942, but did not know the exact location; others had knowledge, but were still afraid to talk about it. When we finally made it there, a tour guide greeted us and showed around.

A room in the main part of the memorial had names inscribed on the wall. Reading all those names was terrifying, and then I saw my maiden name (Полнаревa) repeated eight times. I never knew how scary it could be to read your own name. Eight members of my family were murdered there — my elderly great-grandparents, their children and young grandchildren.

Полнаревa_name_listThe tour guide told us about an idea to plant a Memorial Park. At that point, it was almost just a dream — the organization is underfunded. I wanted to help. The idea turned into a plan during my visit to a redwood park in California. Looking at the thousands years old giant trees, I thought how symbolic it would be to plant redwoods at the Drobitsky Yar. For thousands of years those trees will be reminding people of what had happened in the cold winter of 1941. I thought that this would be a good way of saying: “We will remember you forever.” We will remember all Jews and non-Jews killed at the Drobitsky Yar. We will remember thousands Holocausts victims all over the world. And maybe, just maybe, looking at those trees, people will think “never again” — never again, not Jewish people not any other nation in the world has to live through a similar tragedy.