Sunday, September 27, 2009

Babi Yar Remembrance Day- Sept. 29

Lying to the young is wrong.
Proving to them that lies are true is wrong.
Telling them
            that God’s in his heaven
and all’s well with the world
                             is wrong.
They know what you mean.
                        They are people too.
Tell them the difficulties
                          can’t be counted,
and let them see
                not only
                        what will be
but see
       with clarity
                   these present times.
Say obstacles exist they must encounter,
sorrow comes,
             hardship happens.
The hell with it.
                 Who never knew
the price of happiness
                      will not be happy.
Forgive no error
                you recognize,
it will repeat itself,
                      a hundredfold
and afterward
             our pupils
will not forgive in us
                      what we forgave. 

"Lies" by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, 1952; Translated by Robin Milner-Gulland and Peter Levi (revised)

~ ~ ~

September 29 marks the first day of the Nazi massacre of Jews at Babi Yar. While these original killings lasted three days, and were followed by two years of essentially non-stop murders, 11/29 is set aside as a day of remembrance. While doing research for my thesis (on Shostakovich's Symphony No. 13), I've learned a bit about the historical event. I'll refrain from imparting details or commentary of my own, save that it was horrific, on par with the Nazi camps at Buchenwald and Auschwitz, the Allied firebombing of Dresden, or the atomic weapons blasts in Japan. [I suppose I'll add one bit of commentary, and that's for everyone to read that list and remember that history is always written by the winner.] I'll also spare you from emotional education or political criticism (sans an entreaty to take a moment and think), as these have already been made by people far beyond my poor power to add or detract:

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