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Subject: 75th anniversary of the Genocide at Babi Yar rss

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While wargaming is a fantastic hobby with a lot of strategic depth, the sleek mechanics and nicely illustrated game counters sometimes abstract away the cruelties and war crimes that were committed during the simulated historic events.

Today is the 75th anniversary of the massacres at Babi Yar near Kiev, where the German Wehrmacht and SS troops with the support of local police executed 33,771 Jews on 29–30 September 1941 during the campaign against the Soviet Union.

Out of respect for the victims, I think it is important to remember these events as a warning for future generations that history should not repeat itself.



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Philip Bolger
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War, in person, is nasty business, even when conducted by the right folks for the right reasons. When conducted by some of the more vile elements of human history... you get this.

Thank you for posting this memorial.
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Isaac Citrom
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[Edit] Deleted - I regret my post.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
J D, I am an older Hungarian Jew and without getting into the details, my family is intimately involved with the Holocaust. I do agree with and appreciate your sentiment but this is not the place for your post; it probably should be moved to the RSP forum.

We--wargamers--are very well aware of the human cost and events of war and we consciously and deliberately exclude all that from our gaming. Frankly, it makes for poor gaming. We concentrate exclusively on the military aspects of history and only insomuch as it lends itself to a game.

.
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Nick West
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Well said, Issac.

My father fought against the Japanese in Burma, and had a tough time at Kohima.

He wouldn't buy a Japanese car back in the 70's and 80's but had no problem with me setting up Midway on the dining room table and even played with Japanese side one evening when he saw me sadly solo-ing it.

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Leo Zappa
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isaacc wrote:

J D, I am an older Hungarian Jew and without getting into the details, my family is intimately involved with the Holocaust. I do agree with and appreciate your sentiment but this is not the place for your post; it probably should be moved to the RSP forum.

We--wargamers--are very well aware of the human cost and events of war and we consciously and deliberately exclude all that from our gaming. Frankly, it makes for poor gaming. We concentrate exclusively on the military aspects of history and only insomuch as it lends itself to a game.
.


Well, it needn't go all the way to RSP. I think a lot of people here forget that besides the 'general' forum in the wargames subdomain, we also have 'historical' and 'awol' forums. I think the OP's post would fit well into the 'historical' forum.
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Greg S
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Around 25 years ago I heard Yevgeny Yevtushenko recite his poem Babi Yar live, in New York City. It was in Russian, which I wasn't completely fluent in back then, but I'll never forget the feeling in the audience. Dead, grim, absolute silence. He stopped after finishing, and everyone just sat there in total silence for what felt like 10 minutes. Nobody clapped, and he didn't move. Then he started another recitation and I think everyone exhaled.
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Scott Gillispie
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Since I was just doing my monthly War Movies post when I saw this, thought I'd see if there was a good one covering Babi Yar; there seems to be one in the works from the Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa, but it's still in development.

A good topic adjacent choice might be the 2008 Defiance with Daniel Craig and Liev Schrieber, about the Bielski partisans; currently available on Netflix here in the US.
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Aaron Silverman
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On the topic of war movies and Hungarian Jews, I'll recommend the excellent Sunshine, an epic film about a Hungarian-Jewish family that features Ralph Fiennes in a triple role as a grandfather, father, and son across 100 years of history. The middle character experiences the rise of fascism and WWII.
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Jur dj
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I grew up with Anne Frank,'s diary and kept up a slow but steady reading on the Holocaust. In university we discussed Daniel Golhagen's Willing Executioners and Brown's Ordinary Men.

But the image that has gripped me is a movie shown in the Imperial War Museum, showing the execution of Jews in Russia. I don't remember where or when exactly.

I won't go into the horrid detail but do go and see when you re in London. It's the German soldier flicking away hid cigarette as he goes to fetch another batch of victims. As if he's bored.

That for me is the key to the Holocaust and with every commemoration that image comes back to haunt me.
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Andy Daglish
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Qualm wrote:
Around 25 years ago I heard Yevgeny Yevtushenko recite his poem Babi Yar live, in New York City. It was in Russian, which I wasn't completely fluent in back then, but I'll never forget the feeling in the audience. Dead, grim, absolute silence. He stopped after finishing, and everyone just sat there in total silence for what felt like 10 minutes. Nobody clapped, and he didn't move. Then he started another recitation and I think everyone exhaled.


The poem is here, and has little to do with Nazis killing Jews at Babi Yar, but rather the anti-semitic reaction of the Soviets to it. http://remember.org/witness/babiyar

Sources for what happened at Babi Yar were entirely controlled by the NKVD and they tended not to be completely honest about matters which were dictated by state policy. The policy was not to differentiate between Jewish deaths and wartime deaths of other Soviet citizens. There are a few eye-witnesses on YouTube.

The ravine apparently had been a dumping ground for those whacked by the NKVD in the 1920s and 30s, and before the revolution the victims of the Imperial secret police, which may also have made the site too politically sensitive for thorough post-war investigation. Mass killings in forests were hardly something the Soviets wished to deplore with ringing condemnation, given their long-term serious problems with Katyn.

Raoul Hilberg, a political science prof at Vermont University and the founder of Holocaust Studies, is often quoted as stating that if this number of Jews were killed there, they weren't buried there, as there's no evidence for this in reliable wartime sources eg. ground disturbance in contemporary aerial photos.

The Soviets evacuated a lot of Jews from Kiev in 1941. A lot more have left recently, given war, invasion and other major disturbances in the Ukraine. Jewish people are also leaving Paris, following the recent terrorist atrocities. Its like nothing has changed.





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Wolf Hoepper
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For me it does´t matter if such a subject is in the approbiate forum or not. But one thought always springs up in my mind when such "anniversaries" are posted:

There were other groups also killed or died en masse:

homosexuals, gypsies, communists, socialists, forced labour workers, soviet POW´s etc.etc.

Please don´t get me wrong. I don´t intent to minimize the Shoah in any way, but take a moment and spare a thought of mourning for the other victims too. In basically any documentation aired on TV the sufferings and killings of these victims are treated with only a few sentences. They deserve the same remembrance like all other victims of Nazi terrorism.
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jumbit
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This has nothing to do with wargames, hence it is in the wrong forum. At best, it would go into Historical Context, but it really doesn't fit there either. AWOL is the right forum for this link-of-the-day kind of stuff.
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Чебурашка, ты настоящий друг!
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aforandy wrote:
Sources for what happened at Babi Yar were entirely controlled by the NKVD and they tended not to be completely honest about matters which were dictated by state policy.


This is arrant nonsense. As Karel Berkhoff writes in one article on sources for the massacre, "In Germany, a fierce debate over the involvement of the Wehrmacht, the German armed forces, in the Holocaust produced several new studies of the Babi Yar massacre. Most of the latter contributions have drawn on German military records and postwar trial records" (from his article in Brandon and Lower's The Shoah in Ukraine. History, Testimony, Memorialization, pp. 293-294).

Moreover, your statement shows a misunderstanding of historical source analysis: you can't just dismiss documents out of hand because they were produced by the functionaries a totalitarian state; the skill of historical source analysis is to see what one can learn from a document despite, or even because of, the biases of its author.

Certainly, the Soviet Union's public policy was to play down the specificity of Jewish suffering in favour of emphasising the Nazis' crimes against all "peaceful Soviet citizens"; this, however, is more likely to lead to estimates of Jewish victims that are too low rather than too high. In addition, simply because public policy was to deemphasise Jewish losses, does not mean that functionaries etc. trying to find out what was happening do not refer to the ethnicity of the victims in their reports for internal use. Indeed, in the early years they would have no reason not to, as the injunction to stress the suffering of "peaceful Soviet citizens" rather than Jews was not introduced immediately.

The whole post is just another case of your Holocaust obfuscation: you have repeatly defended the German military conduct of the war (including the commissar order and anti-partisan operations), while casting doubt on our level of knowledge of the Holocaust in such a way that avoids outright Holocaust denial yet suggests that there is a real truth other than that commonly accepted.

And people are still thumbing your posts!
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