His name was Ziama – a beautiful Jewish name which he had to change to Russian ‘Zakhar’ in order to conceal his origins. When all Jews were ordered to appear at a gathering point, he didn’t go and persuaded others not to go either. Pretending to be a collaborator for the occupation authorities, he kept on saving lives. He rode his bike to nearby villages to barter goods for his family, at the same time trying to get in touch with partisan units. Like a true ‘blade runner’, he always had a narrow escape until a traitor denounced him. Even then, in the concentration camp, forced to exhume and burn the corpses of those massacred in the first months of the occupation, he didn’t think of death – he thought of freedom. And he led others with him - out from the camp, towards life and a happy future – just a day before their scheduled execution. In the night streets of Kiev, hiding from patrols, they made their way home, to reunite with their families. A dreamlike story, but a true one. Some say, Ziama never existed and the story is a fiction. To contradict this statement and to prove the authenticity of the described events, I found transcripts of the KGB interrogations of the witnesses and of those guilty of the crimes committed in Babi Yar, Kiev, in 1941-1943. This is the truth the world needs to know. The further in time we are from the Holocaust, the more denial and more lies we encounter. So that no Jew would ever have to hide under a Gentile name, so that no Jew would ever have his life threatened for the mere fact that he is a Jew – read and spread Ziama’s message to the world. And if the worst happens and History repeats itself – let Ziama’s heroism be an example to all of us how to fight back and not allow anything to destroy us. Here at last, after 70 years, the final truth about Babi Yar.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I don't give this five stars because it was so fabulous, but because it tells a much more complete story of one of the most horrific centers of death, apart from the known Death Camps. There were only 14 survivors from the prisoners used by the Nazis to dig up the bodies from the ravine and endeavor to burn the evidence of mass slaughter. Testimony, of these men was given initially to Soviet investigators. For decades these testimonies were not readily shared and even once revealed were not given full credence because of obvious propagandizing within the testimonies by investigators. Known before this account was the nearly 34K Jews of Kiev slaughtered at the ravine, followed by nearly 20K Soviet POWs. But the massacres didn't end there. That is the horror and witness in this work. A must read for anyone who wants to know more about the Holocaust by bullets hitherto under-acknowledged and largely unremembered because of the years of silence behind the Iron Curtain. The Soviets...
I had expected that this book would be about someone who had escaped the massacres at Babi Yar, so I was a bit surprised. It is actually about those who were forced to clean out the pits, and it is a horrifying, yet edifying account. I was intrigued by the translation. It seems obvious that Reyzl Yitkin is not a native English-speaker. Often her phrasing is unusual, but it does have a certain charm. Between the occasionally strange translations and typos, it can be a challenge to read and follow. Since this is a first-person account however, it is worth the effort. It is often difficult when reading a selection such as this, to even imagine how one could live through the horrors. Trubakov's strength and perseverance are a marvel.
Should be required reading before a student receives a high school diploma. The consequences of prejudices practiced by a "civilized, educated and Christian" nation should serve as a powerful lesson to each new generation. What part of "We will never forget" do our leaders not understand?
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