Babi Yar was a deep, wide ravine located near Kiev. On September 29 and 30, 1941, German troops exterminated 33,771 Jews by shooting them. This was one of the largest mass killings committed during the Second World War. During and after the war the territory was modified, redesigned, or converted in order to remove the physical signs of the genocide. Rather than providing a detailed account of the event (depicted in Anatolij Kuznecov’s eponymous novel), this essay for the first time shows how literature, music, and painting preserved its memory in the face of censorship, repression, and profanation undertaken by a regime that did not accept the idea that the war against the Soviet peoples also included a “special war” against the Jews.
Antonella Salomoni teaches Contemporary History at the University of Calabria and History of the Shoah and Genocides at the University of Bologna and the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa.