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US envoy to Ukraine to commemorate Nazi massacre victims

Deutsche Presse Agentur
Published: Monday September 18, 2006

Washington- A US cabinet member will attend this month's 65th anniversary commemoration of notorious Nazi massacres at Baby Yar in wartime German-occupied Ukraine, the White House said Monday. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings will head a US delegation to the September 27 ceremonies in Ukraine that includes Gregg Rickman, the US State Department's envoy for tracking and combating anti-Semitism, a White House statement said.

Nazi SS squads and other German forces killed about 100,000 people between 1941 and 1943 at Baby Yar, a ravine near the Ukrainian capital Kiev that became a mass grave and one of the world's worst massacre sites.

On September 28, 1941, Nazi death squads, helped by German police units and Ukrainian auxiliaries, killed more than half of Kiev's Jewish population at Baby Yar, according to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The "Einsatzgruppe," or mobile killing unit, involved in the massacre reported killing nearly 34,000 Jews in two days. Until the Soviet Army liberated Kiev in 1943, thousands more Jews were killed at Baby Yar, as well as non-Jews such as Roma, communists and Soviet prisoners of war.

The Soviet government put up a memorial to Nazi war victims on the site in 1974, but refused to identify Baby Yar as a grave to most of Kiev's pre-World War II Jews.

After the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, Jewish groups and the newly independent Ukrainian government built a memorial topped by a Star of David.

© 2006 DPA - Deutsche Presse-Agenteur