After Claiming He Wanted To ‘Denazify’ Ukraine, Putin Strikes Holocaust Memorial Site

Ukrainian officials reported Tuesday that a Russian missile strike apparently targeting Kyiv’s main TV and radio tower had also hit the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial. Five people died in the bombing.

“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? At least 5 killed. History repeating…” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted Tuesday.

The attack comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin invoked World War II as a justification for invading Ukraine, saying he wanted to “denazify” the country.

As The Washington Post noted, Putin’s comments were likely meant to help sell the invasion back home, where “rhetoric around fighting fascism resonates deeply” still.

Other countries quickly called Putin out for his cynical twisting of history. To start, Zelenskyy himself is Jewish and had family members killed in the Holocaust.

A blast is seen in Kyiv’s main TV tower amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on March 1.

Putin’s target may not have been Babyn Yar, but rather the TV tower located close to the memorial. The New York Times reported that videos captured at least two other explosions in the area, in addition to the one that struck the tower itself.

But the damaging of Babyn Yar further delegitimizes Putin’s purported motives.

Babyn Yar is the site of one of the worst mass murders of Jews during the Holocaust. On Sept. 29-30, 1941, Nazi killing squads executed more than 33,000 people there.

Nazis murdered an estimated 100,000 people at Babyn Yar during World War II.

The Mirror Field audiovisual installation in memory of Babyn Yar victims at the Babyn Yar National Historical Memorial, pictured on Oct. 5, 2020.
The Mirror Field audiovisual installation in memory of Babyn Yar victims at the Babyn Yar National Historical Memorial, pictured on Oct. 5, 2020.

Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In response to the Babyn Yar attack Tuesday, the Auschwitz Memorial in Germany tweeted, “It’s hard to expect the Russian army to respect the dead if it is not capable of respecting human lives.”

Last week, it also said in a statement that people in Ukraine were being killed “purely because of insane pseudo-imperial megalomania.”

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum also tweeted its outrage about Babyn Yar on Tuesday. And previously, it called out Putin for 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 Feb. 24. “Equally groundless and egregious are his claims that Ukrainian authorities are committing ‘genocide’ as a justification for the invasion of Ukraine.”

The White House said Zelenskyy and President Joe Biden spoke Tuesday about continued U.S. support for Ukraine. They discussed economic support, sanctions on Russia and the bombing near Babyn Yar.

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