A Monument To My Grandmother…

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408

51 years ago a Russian/Soviet poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko published a poem “Babiy Yar”.

I am convinced that no other poem in the Soviet Union/Russia had the same effect as Babiy Yar.  Ever…

It was like a nuke exploded in the Soviet Union. For so many people it was a breath of fresh air, a word of truth said in the empire of lie. For many others it was what a red cloth is to the enraged bull…

No, I do not think that this is the best poem ever written in Russian… but this poem stands out not on its literary qualities, it stands out and stands tall on its human qualities.

There are rare moments in life, when great people overcome fear and hostility and rise to the occasion, and create the unforgettable. This was a poem Babiy Yar.

Babiy Yar was a ravine not far from Kiev (the capital city of Ukraine), which is the site of mass grave. On September 29-30 1941 33,771 Jews were methodically exterminated there by Nazi.

“The massacre was the largest single mass killing for which the Nazi regime and its collaborators were responsible during its campaign against the Soviet Union[1] and is considered to be "the largest single massacre in the history of the Holocaust".

It was so long ago, it was 10 years before I was even born, but this pain is always with me. One of those 33,771 victims was my grandmother. I am not sentimental, but when I think about it, I am distraught…

In the Soviet Union the tradition was not to acknowledge holocaust, not to acknowledge that Nazi were killing Jews, but classify it as atrocities against Soviet people.

With their own troubled relationship with Jews, they did not want the memory of what happened in Babiy Yar. This ravine was an unmarked place. Those who tried to raise their voice about a monument, were quickly shut down... Those who knew about Babiy Yar, were silent.

Years later the authorities started using the ravine as dump place. When Yevtushenko’s friend, who witnessed the massacre as a boy, brought him to Babiy Yar, Yevtushenko was stunned seeing trucks coming one after another and dumping that smelly garbage into he ravine… Call it adding insult to injury…

That evening Yevgeny Yevtushenko wrote Babiy Yar.

It is not a poem about making a mass grave a dumpsite …

It is not a poem about cold-blooded killers, who orchestrated this massacre…

It is not about only Babiy Yar…

It is about anti-Semitism, including Soviet/Russian anti-Semitism…

It is about difficult and courageous act of being human….

My late mom, a psychiatrist, was not a poetry fan. All she read were medical books and magazines. I was 10 years old, so all this was far from me. But I remember that my mom loved Yevtushenko.

She was carrying a hand written poem with her at all times… in her purse, in her pocket… that poem was her monument to her mother.

It is my monument to my grandmother…

Here is the link to an English language translation of the poem. I could not read it, it is not even close to what I read in Russian, but this is all I have.

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Rainmaker
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Eric Kodner
Madeline Island Realty - La Pointe, WI
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Jon, my friend, I'm moved by what you wrote here.

Feb 29, 2012 01:39 PM #1
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Christine McDaniel
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Porter Co. - Crown Point, IN
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Jon,  I'm so touched by your story.  I do genealogy and can't even begin to understand the loss you must feel.  What a wonderful tribute to your grandmother you've created!  

Feb 29, 2012 02:39 PM #2
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Rob Lang
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It seems extra moving that this was shared on this special day. Thanks Jon

Feb 29, 2012 03:29 PM #3
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Marte Cliff
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I just read today that there is some fool running for the Senate who claims all that never happened. He says it's the worlds biggest, blackists lie.

General Eisenhower was a wise man when he ordered photos to be taken. He said then that someday people would try to claim that it hadn't happened. And now that's exactly what some are trying to claim.

I salute you for honoring your Grandmother...

Feb 29, 2012 04:54 PM #4
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Debbie Gartner
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Wow, what a touching tribute.  This whole period in history is just so sad.  I remember so well when I lived in DC and the Holocaust museum was  erected and my grandparents were contributors.  It was only then that I learned about my grandfather who was in the war and involved freeing some of the concentration camps.  So many years later, he still refused to discuss it.

Feb 29, 2012 07:25 PM #5
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Erv Fleishman
Realty Associates - Boca Raton, FL
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http://www1.yadvashem.org/yv/en/museum/index.asp?WT.mc_id=ggcamp&WT.srch=1

We visited the Holocaust museum in Israel and afterwards I took a course regarding the Holocaust at FAU given by noted scholar Dr. Alan Berger.

As a child, I listened to a relative descirbe how he was thrown from a train by his mother. He was taken in by a family and hidden in the attic. He never saw his family again. My eyes probably could have jumped out of my head when I heard his mother threw him off a moving train as a little boy. 

No matter what I read, or watch, or hear... it is not understandable to me. 

 

Feb 29, 2012 07:40 PM #6
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Charles Stallions
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services - Pensacola, FL
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Jon, a very moving poem. I suppose no one knows the boundaries a world will could take. I just read the book by Andy Andrews "How do you kill a 11 million People" and it is short to the point and was so simple that it could easily happen anywhere in the world and has Cambodia, Bejing, Uganda and a few others. One would think it would take an army and a mad man, but the camps were guarded by less than 1% of the people that was massacred. So why didn't they rush the Nazi's. The book can be read in one hour and yet it opened my eyes to a whole new world of hate.

BTW I was a eight year old boy living in Selma, Ala during Black Sunday and yet I could never imagine your thoughts and as you say it happened 10 years before you were born. Thanks for sharing and Let Us Never Forget the innocent.

 

Feb 29, 2012 08:57 PM #7
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Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
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Eric - thak you for reading this sad stuff

Feb 29, 2012 10:43 PM #8
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Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
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Christine - genealogy is laughable in socialist Soviet Union. People, who had relatives abroad were so afraid of this fact, because it could cost them lives, that they would not ever mention it to their children. People of noble decent would often try to change their last name, or even one letter, so it is not traceable.

We do not have history. I heard about my grandmother and grandfather, but never about their parents or relatives.

My history is 2 generations back at most.

Feb 29, 2012 10:48 PM #9
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Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
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Lawrence- yesterday was not a special day. I ran into the interview of this poet, and he was talking about how it happened that this poem was published, why by all rule and standards it was not supposed to.

Feb 29, 2012 10:50 PM #10
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Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
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Marte - we have whole countries of such fools, so why even wonder. We have idiots claiming that it is us, Americans, who caused September 11. Stupidity does not even require 50-60 years to forget or to misinterpret

Feb 29, 2012 10:52 PM #11
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Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
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Erv - my English teacher at school was not thrown off the moving train, but pushed out from a group of Jews on their way to execution to the crowd of locals, and that's how she survived, and only learned about it 20 years later

Feb 29, 2012 10:57 PM #12
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Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
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Charles - yes, we do not know how low we, as people, can fall. thank you for your commment.

Feb 29, 2012 10:58 PM #13
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Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
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Debbie - I have never been to the Holocaust museum, and I would like to do it, and I also want to go to Yad Vashem, and I am a bit afraid that it is hard to take.

I have difficult time to see it peacefully. NExt generation, my children, it is diferent. It does not touch them, they do not feel pain. I do. It is very difficult for me

Feb 29, 2012 11:03 PM #14
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Satar Naghshineh
Satar - Amiri Property and Financial Services Corp. - Irvine, CA

It's amazing what one human can do to another human.

Mar 01, 2012 06:00 AM #15
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Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
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Satar - and we can justify it. No matter how horrendous it can be.

Mar 01, 2012 06:14 AM #16
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Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
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Oh, boy, Jon. Where on earth did you find that video? The tears are rolling down my face.

Mar 01, 2012 06:30 AM #17
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Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
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Jill - I have to admit that I am close to that myself.

Mar 01, 2012 12:05 PM #18
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Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
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Jon, in Proverbs, it talks about speaking for those who have no voice. "Babiy Yar" does this. The translation was beautiful, but translations can only go so far. And the video. Beautiful tribute to your grandmother.

Mar 03, 2012 01:37 PM #19
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