To the 80th anniversary of the Babyn Yar tragedy, the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine, together with the Israeli Yad Vashem Memorial Complex of the Holocaust history, is preparing a large-scale project aimed at perpetuating the memory of the heroes who saved Jews during the Holocaust – the Book of the Righteous Among the Nations in Ukraine.
The title of the Righteous Among the Nations started to be applied to the saviors of the Jews only since 1953, when the Law on the establishment of Yad Vashem was adopted in Israel, and since 1963, on behalf of the State of Israel and the Jewish people, the Yad Vashem Memorial began to award this honorary title to those non-Jewish saviors whose heroic deed could be confirmed by documents, by testimony of the rescued or their relatives.
Today, Ukraine ranks fourth in the world in terms of the number of the Righteous. However, there are two important factors to consider. First, the set of criteria for conferring the title of the Righteous is very strict. Second, the main stage in establishing the facts of salvation fell on the Soviet period of the Ukrainian history, when anti-Semitism on the state level was especially strong. Therefore, many salvation stories have stayed undocumented. Nevertheless, there are 2,659 Righteous Among the Nations in Ukraine today, officially recognized by the special commission of Yad Vashem, headed by a representative of the Supreme Court of Israel.
There were many such Righteous who sheltered Jews in Kyiv during the Babyn Yar massacre. Suffice it to recall the Glagolev family alone, 9 members of which received the title of the Righteous Among the Nations.
The Book of the Ukrainian Righteous, which will be published on the eve of the 80th anniversary of the mass shootings in Babyn Yar, which has become a tragic symbol of the Eastern European Holocaust, is dedicated to those saviors of Jews.
2,659 Righteous Among the Nations – these are 2,659 stories full of drama, each of which serves as a unique example of courage. Many of these stories with photographs of the saviors and the saved ones will be included in the Book of the Righteous Among the Nations in Ukraine.
The JCU project “The Righteous People of My City”, which has been going on since 2018, is also dedicated to the personal commemoration of the Righteous. I hope that this year there will be more streets named after the Righteous Among the Nations in the cities and villages of Ukraine where they lived.
Join me, Boris Lozhkin, on Twitter @lozhkin_boris for news and commentary on Judaism in Ukraine and around the world. Follow me on Facebook for updates on the work of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine.
Find out more about my work at borislozhkin.org.