War memorials are heart breaking places. Genocide memorials are scary. But the most frightening are the ones residing on the places of atrocities, like the Drobytsky Yar memorial.
|Construction History Timeline more...
For many decades the Drobytsky Yar tragedy was concealed from the public. A small sign, dating back to 1956, was the lone identifier of the Yar. The sign read: “Here lay victims of fascist terror” (“Здесь покоятся жертвы фашистского террора”). It did not mention mass killings of Jews. Some sources name Alexander Kagan, a man brave enough to petition authorities for the construction of a small obelisk in 1974.In 1988, after years of silence, there was another push to recognize victims. An article by a journalist Victoria Lebedeva about Drobytsky Yar was published in Kharkov city newspaper (Вечерний Харьков). Later that year, under the leadership of activists Evgeniy Lisenko and Victor Bojko, a group of volunteers began gathering pictures, letters, and names of victims.In 1991, the fall of the Soviet Union allowed for a more open discussion of previously taboo subjects. A committee of enthusiasts organized a contest for a monument designs. A prominent native Kharkov architect, Alexander Lejbfrejd, together with a well-known artist Victor Savenkov won the contest and started to work on the memorial design.From 1992 to 1994 donations for the memorial were collected and construction began. Donations came primarily from private donors. Ukraine lacked sufficient funds to help finance the memorial, especially due to the turbulent transitional post-Soviet era. There were no municipal funds and soon, private donations dried up. Shortly after the concrete foundation was poured the work stopped and did not restart for several years.In 2001, with Kharkov’s municipal support, in addition to support from various Jewish organizations and private donors, construction resumed under the supervision of S. I. Ishenko, the Righteous among the Nations (праведник мира). In December of 2002, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma officially opened the Drobytsky Yar memorial.In August of 2005 the memorial hall (the Room of Tragedy) was added.Two years later, in 2007, during a construction of an apartment complex at the site of old Jewish ghetto, remains of 150 bodies were discovered. The victims’ bodies were moved and buried at the Drobytsky Yar. It took two years to finance a burial headstone.
Burial Sites more...
The Room of Tragedy more...
The Memorial is built on the site of nine mass graves and occupies over 7 hectares.Even now, 70 years after the massacre, the burials’ boarders are not clearly marked. There is no indication that thousands of peoples are buried right under your feet. There are only temporary looking signs identify the burial places. The sign simply says:“burial place” (“место захоронения”).
From a large menorah at the entrance to the Memorial, a narrow winding road (the Road to Eternity) leads to a tall main monument. The Room of Tragedy constructed below the main monument lists names of the victims on every wall. The list, however, is only partially complete and volunteers continue their work in identifying victims’ names. victims’ names are printed out and taped to walls.
|What we are doing about it:
– Metasequoia Memorial more...
October 2013, Boston Public Garden
The story of rebirth and survival of metasequoia is amazing. Metasequoias were first discovered in fossils at the beginning of 1940th and the trees thought to be extinct. However, a few years later a small Redwood plantation was found in China. At first, the new plantation was wrongly identified as sequoias – another species of an ancient redwood. Around 1948 it was confirmed that the new discovery was in fact a close sequoia’s relative, and as such was named “metasequoia”. Since then metasequoias have been reborn – the trees have been cultivated and brought back to life all over the world. Those trees are real survivors – they can withstand harsh weather, fires and lightning. The oldest living metasequoia is over 600years old. It is expected to live a more than a 1000 years, as its closest sequoia relative.
The story of rebirth and survival of Jewish people is equally amazing. During the 1940th the Jewish population was dramatically reduced. In the years followed the war, Jewish people planted their roots all over the world, adapted and learned how to excel in various places, and enriched the local cultures.
We would like to reveal this symbolic analogy by planting metasequoias at the memorial. The metasequoias will outlives us, our children and grandchildren. Most likely they will outlive all the human made structures around it and will become a permanent Memorial of Life at the DrobytskyYar.
August 2014, Metasequoia planted at the Drobytsky Yar by RememberUs.org
– Museum and Room of Tragedy more...
We need to help to continue the research work and to commemorate victims’. Go to the Drobytsky Yar Memorial website and see how much work has been done by them Memorial
– Educational Workmore...
We need to teach our kids about this page in our history. We are printing educational brochures, bringing guided tours to the Drobytsky Yar Memorial and to the site of the Jewish ghetto
Although a significant amount of work has been done, but a future progress is restricted by a very small annual budget. The memorial budget depends almost entirely on municipal funding. There are insufficient funds to maintain the memorial and there is a long list of unfinished work. They need our help!