A new film exposes that not only were Jews persecuted in their own homes in the Soviet Union during the Holocaust – they were even assisted by local residents.
Boris Maftsir’s film The Road to Babi Yar, which wraps up his documentary series “Searching for the Unknown Holocaust,” tells the painful but true story about the 1.5 million Jews who were killed in Ukraine during World War II. Babi Yar, a site in Kiev in the Ukraine, has become a symbol of the massacres carried out by the German forces and their Ukrainian aides.
The film depicts the 100 days of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, exposing, for the first time, the silent genocide that occurred alongside the Holocaust.
Maftsir, a Latvia native who has worked at the Israeli Film Service, the WIZO Haifa Academic Center and Yad Vashem, uses interviews with historians, local eyewitnesses and Holocaust survivors to piece together the trauma and explain how the situation in Babi Yar came to be.
A screening of the film was held on Thursday at Yad Vashem, with President Reuven Rivlin, director of Yad Vashem Avner Shalev, Natalie Shnaiderman, the director of Global Grantmaking for the Genesis Philanthropy Foundation, which financed the film, and Maftsir.
The Road to Babi Yar is “a unique repository of visual evidence and testimony that will certainly serve future generations of scholars, educators and those who simply will want to know and remember,” said Shnaiderman.
“There was no death crueler, colder, brutal and concentrated than the events at Babi Yar – 33,771 infants, children, women and elderly, were shot and slaughtered for two days in the suburbs of Kiev and their names are not even documented. We must always strive to tell of the extent of the devastation Jewish families who lived in the former Soviet Union before the war experienced,” Rivlin said.
Additionally, in celebration of the anniversary of Operation Barbarossa (the code name for the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, which started on June 22, 1941), the Tel Aviv Cinematheque will hold additional viewings of the film on Friday morning and Saturday afternoon.