Speech by President Yushchenko

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today Kyiv and Ukraine are standing in mourning before the world.

During these days of remembrance of the Babi Yar tragedy, I am grateful to see in this hall the President of the State of Israel Mr. Moshe Katsav, the President of Croatia Mr. Stjepan Mesić, the President of Montenegro Mr. Filip Vujanović, all honorable heads and members of delegations who have come to our country.

I share the grief with each one of you, with representatives of all nations whose pain is buried in the Ukrainian soil.

I would like to extend a special brotherly address to Jews around the world whose lives are united with the lives of our people by the indivisible grief of this common tragedy.

This was a Ukrainian tragedy with a shot to the Jewish heart.

Over the decades, the memory of Babi Yar was turned into faceless and nameless ashes, belonging to no nation.

From these dust and ashes, from the hundreds of yars that have scarred our destiny, Ukraine raises an eternal prayer for its children, and for the first time raises its voice to address humanity in the name of the catastrophe, which is of global significance.

I see the grievous stigma of Babi Yar in a global context.

On the 65th anniversary of the tragedy, on behalf of the soul and conscience of the Ukrainian nation, I lower my head before all innocent victims of the terror.

Time stops before their memory, opening up an eternity that we can only reach in prayer.

I recite this prayer as the son of an Auschwitz prisoner, as a Ukrainian, as the President of Ukraine.

Together with the Jewish people I repeat these words, which contain the essence of the highest wisdom of mortals, addressing the immortality – from the Musaf prayer recited on the Day of Atonement:

”These I do remember and pour out my soul”

«Ei’le ezkera v’nafshi alai eshpecha».

In this memorial service I remember those who were killed by Nazis in the Babi Yar massacre – from autumn 1941 through autumn 1943 – Jews, Roma, Ukrainians, Russians, Poles, Hungarians, Czechs – more than one hundred thousand people, sent with a hellish consistency to the “death conveyor.”

It is impossible to measure the Babi Yar tragedy with heartless statistics.

I want you to see a human life behind each figure, to see yourself and the entire human civilization that was placed against the machine-gun fire.

The Evil that came to Ukraine during World War II did not make any distinction between us and had the sole goal of grinding all of us one by one, making us slaves whose lives were of no value.

Addressing the supreme forces which guide our lives, I ask them for one vital thing – to clear us of the filth that was spread sixty years ago over the world and over my country.

I make a clear and straightforward promise that there will never be ethnic intolerance and religious hatred in Ukraine.

Together with other world leaders, I confirm Ukraine’s support for the global process of strengthening dialogue between cultures and religions.

Like all Ukrainians, I refuse to accept and tolerate the slightest manifestation of xenophobia and anti-Semitism.

Ukraine repeats: we, together with all of humankind, condemn the perpetrators and organizers of the Holocaust.

For a people who suffered so many losses will never hate other nations.

And only a nation that knows how to feel the grief of its brothers and provide them with support and respect deserves understanding and sympathy for its own tragedies.

So I ask G-d to give me strength in preaching this message and preserving the memory of each page of this history.

Absolute disregard for human life brought unspeakable catastrophes and tragedies on the 20th century.These catastrophes left their own terrifying list of martyrs in each nation that was a hostage of the totalitarian regime.

The last century left the Ukrainian nation the black ravine of Holodomor.

In fact, the same path of human sufferings, which have not been counted and may not be counted, connects this ravine with Babi Yar.

In the meantime, the real remedy for our memory is righteous deeds of aid, which have always been common among people with truthful souls in the times of their most difficult trials.

I am proud of the Ukrainian righteous who saved the lives of innocent Jews in Baby Yar, during the Holocaust, during the extermination of the thousand-year Jewish presence in the Ukrainian land.

The heroic deeds of these people shed a blessed light that will lead our people to the next life.

In joint prayer with you I ask G-d to let our peoples live.

I ask G-d to give us the strength and the truth to follow the path on which the tragedies that we survived will never recur.

I ask for a mutual pardon for all the evil, conscious or unconscious, that centuries of history of a shared life have inflicted on our peoples, Ukrainian and Jewish.

I ask for pure respect for each other, filled with dignity, which will protect the peace and comfort in our souls.

Today my heart is filled with grief.

And, at the same time, with faith in the victory of the good that each of our nations is willing to bring to the entire world.

I believe, and so I live.

We believe, and so we love.

And our love and our memory are eternal.

Thank you for your attention.