Zelensky reacts after Russian missiles hit Holocaust memorial site: ‘What is the point of saying never again?’

Five people died and five others were injured in the attack

Sravasti Dasgupta
Wednesday 02 March 2022 06:07
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Smoke billows from Kyiv TV tower as huge explosion hits

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky hit out at Vladimir Putin and other world leaders after a Russian attack on a television tower in Kyiv on Tuesday also hit the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial.

Five people died and five others were injured after the attack.

Over two days in September 1941, Nazi soldiers executed 33,771 Jews at the edge of Babyn Yar, a long, steep ravine on the northwestern edge of Kyiv. The mass murder was one of the most nefarious episodes of the entire Holocaust. Nazis murdered an estimated 100,000 people at Babyn Yar during World War II.

“To the world: what is the point of saying «never again» for 80 years, if the world stays silent when a bomb drops on the same site of Babyn Yar?” President Zelensky said in a tweet. “At least 5 killed. History repeating…”

Anton Herashchenko, adviser to the ministry, posted footage of the attack on social media. Pictures showed bodies at the site of the blast.

Mr Herashchenko said Russian occupation forces had done the unthinkable by bombing Jewish tombs at Babyn Yar. “This place was the scene of possibly the largest shooting massacre during the Holocaust,” he said in a post on Telegram.

“To tell you the truth, I haven’t had right words and indignation for such deed. If this isn’t fascism - what is it?” he added.

The Auschwitz Memorial replied to the president’s tweet and said: “It’s hard to expect the Russian army to respect the dead if it is not capable of respecting human lives.”

In a statement, the US Holocaust Museum also condemned the attack on Babyn Yar.

“The loss of life in Ukraine today is our primary concern,” it said in a tweet.

“We are also outraged at the damage inflicted on the Babyn Yar memorial by Russia’s attack today. Babyn Yar was the site of one of the largest mass shootings during the Holocaust. It is sacred ground.”

Last Thursday, Russia launched a “special military operation” against Ukraine to ensure, what president Vladimir Putin referred to as a “demilitarisation” of Ukraine, as well as to “de-Nazify” the country, while warning the West against any interference.

Many, including the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, had called out Russia for its reasoning and said that Mr Putin was exploiting the Holocaust to invade Ukraine.

“In justifying this attack, Vladimir Putin has misrepresented and misappropriated Holocaust history by claiming falsely that democratic Ukraine needs to be ‘denazified,’” the museum said in a statement on 24 February. “Equally groundless and egregious are his claims that Ukrainian authorities are committing ‘genocide’ as a justification for the invasion of Ukraine.”

Earlier this week, Russia had claimed that it was not targeting civilians but only military and other sites used by Ukrainian security services.

In Moscow, defence minister Sergei Shoigu said that the plan was not to occupy Ukraine. Instead, Russia would press its military operation in Ukraine until it achieved its goal of bolstering Russian security to protect from threats by the West, he had said.

This map shows the extent of Russia’s attack on Ukraine

However, many civilians have already died in the first six days of the invasion, though numbers are not yet clear.

Fresh blasts and air-raid sirens were reported in Kyiv on Tuesday night as the invasion approached its seventh day, amid growing fears that the attack was about to intensify.

After five people died in the Russian airstrike that damaged Kyiv’s TV tower, Moscow urged the capital’s residents to flee ahead of what it claimed would be “high-precision strikes”.

The Ukraine Ministry of Internal Affairs said television channels would be down for a while after the explosion rocked the communications tower in the centre of the capital.

The TV tower was shown still standing though parts of the metal structure appeared to have been torn off and blown several metres. Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said a control room and an electrical substation were damaged.

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