Today, Saturday, May 3, 2014 I reviewed the book BABI YAR by Anatoly Kuznetsov. Anatoly Kuznetzov was born in Kiev on August 18, 1929 and died in exile in London on June 13, 1979. His father was Russian and his mother Ukrainian and his internal passport stated that he was Russian. He was 12 years old […]

Babi Yar by Anatoly Kuznetsov cover

Babi Yar by Anatoly Kuznetsov cover

Today, Saturday, May 3, 2014 I reviewed the book BABI YAR by Anatoly Kuznetsov.

Anatoly Kuznetzov was born in Kiev on August 18, 1929 and died in exile in London on June 13, 1979. His father was Russian and his mother Ukrainian and his internal passport stated that he was Russian.

He was 12 years old when on September 21, 1941, World War Two raging,  Hitler’s forces invaded the Soviet Union and occupied Kiev.

Two years into the German occupation of Kiev, Kuznetsov then 14 years old, began to write down what he as experiencing, was seeing and what he was being told,  and in 1966 he published the book ‘Babi Yar: A Document in the Form of a Novel’ in Russian in Russia. The book was heavily censored by the Soviet authorities, but later editions published in the West were of course not.


Anatoly Kuznetsov

Anatoly Kuznetsov

I bought the Dell Edition of which you can see the picture above back in April 1990, and this week, the Ukraine and Russia in the news, I reread the book. It was written and published as a ‘novel’, but as Kuznetzov explains in the book – ‘Everything in this book is the truth’.

Babi Yar on the Soviet map

Babi Yar on the Soviet map

Down below is my review of the book, which I hope will encourage you to buy the book and read it.

It bears witness to what had gone in World War 2 in what was then the Soviet Union.

Just as it bears witness to the relationship between Russians and Ukrainians.

The bodies of Nazi Germany's victims in the ravine named Babi Yar

The bodies of Nazi Germany’s victims in the ravine named Babi Yar

Here is my review on, and Do read it there, but it is also down below.

I gave the book 5 stars.


To be more understanding of the situation in the Ukraine, read this book.

I first read Anatoly Kuznetsov’s ‘Babi Yar’ in April 1990. I bought the 5th Dell Publishing Edition which was published in November 1969. Because of the situation in Russia and its former allied satellite states of Ukraine and Crimea, I decided to read Kuznetsov’s book again.

Kuznetsov begins his book with a notification which had been issued by the Soviet Information Bureau. It read: ‘Evening Communiqué September, 21 1941. Throughout September 21 our troops fought the enemy along the entire front. After fierce fighting lasting many days, our troops have left Kiev’.

The story that Kuznetsov tells us is horrendous. Sadly, it is not unique, because wherever Hitler’s Nazis went, they acted just as they did in the Ukraine and there in Kiev and at the ravine named Babi Yar.

Of the 175,000 Jews who lived in Kiev in the 48 hours which preceded the city’s fall to Nazi Germany, an estimated 130,000 died being shot or beaten to death at the hands of the occupying Germans and at those of Ukrainian ‘polizei’. The word of course means police, but as Leo Gruliow, Editor of ‘The Current Digest of the Soviet Press’ explains to us in his note written in New York in January 1967, polizei was what the Ukranians called Ukrainians who had become police under and for the Germans. Sadly (again I use this word) they were as cruel to their fellow Ukrainians as were the Germans: indeed like the Capos of Hitler’s concentration and death camp’s. (The Capos were fellow camp internees, some of them Jews, who had been made guards.)

Who went to the aid of the suffering Ukranians? Russian soldiers. This was in 1943. The Germans, defeated and on the run, and the Soviet Ilyushin bombers overhead, some 200,000 Ukrainians in and around Kiev lay dead.

Kuzentsov, then a child of 14, wrote in his book of seeing the Soviet bombers overhead: ‘Hysterical tears were pent up within me. I loved those planes. Those were our men up there … They were hammering away with all their might. They had the fascists on the run!’

He shouted out: “Keep at them friends, pound away!”


Babi Yar, the ravine

Babi Yar, the ravine


Taking aim at a father and his child at Babi Yar.


Babi Yar Memorial in Kiev today

Babi Yar Memorial in Kiev today

Maybe there are a few politicians – I have Obama and Kerry and Hillary Clinton foremost in my mind – who should read Kuznetsov’s book. They may then be a little less ready with their criticism of Putin and Russia.



Marilyn Z. Tomlins

2 Responses

5-4-2014 at 11:00:18

L’immense tragédie de Babi Yar prend place auprès d’autres tragédies du même ordre, perpétrées par les Allemands, par les Sovietiques, par les Turcs, par Gengis Khan… Attila … la liste est infinie … D’après moi, la crainte que le désir officiellement exprimé de Poutine de redonner à la Russie l’ampleur géopolitique qu’elle avait au temps de l’URSS, c’est-à-dire de reprendre un à un les états satellites : L’Ukraine (La Crimée : c’est fait !), la Pologne, Les Pays Baltes … est certainement présente dans l’esprit des Américains et des Européens. Personnellement, l’action de Poutine en Tchétchénie reste gravée dans ma mémoire. Les Ukrainiens ont certes atrocement souffert de l’invasion allemande, après avoir atrocement souffert sous Staline (7 à 8 millions de morts tout de même !) être indépendants est pour eux une nécessité vitale.
Notre conscience ne sera jamais en repos : que faire ? Ce livre est certainement incontournable.
Vous vous intéressez à Napoléon semble-t-il ? Ses armées n’ont pas dû avancer sans laisser derrière elles des monceaux de cadavres. Méfions-nous des dictateurs, ils n’ont pas d’état d’âme.

5-13-2014 at 13:06:15

Ukraine remains a battlefield for “invasion” from both Western powers – EU, US, NATO – and the East from Russia. The circumstances in Eastern Europe caused populations on the move due to hunger, disease and warfare. Galicia has taken the brunt from Poland, Germany and the Soviet Union. I learned about Galicia and WWII from a court case in The Hague. A tale unfolded about Nazi collaborator Pieter Menten in East Galicia

Some interesting aspects for today’s politics:
Putin’s Youth Years and the Jewish Embrace
Nuland’s roots lie in Bessarabia ‘fin de siècle’ – 1900

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