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A Survivor of the Babi Yar Massacre

The largest single massacre of Jews took place in September 1941, when the Nazis shot over 33,000 Jews from Kiev at Babi Yar, a ravine on the outskirts of the city. Dina Pronicheva, whose testimony appears at right, was one of those ordered to march to the ravine, forced to undress, and then shot. Badly wounded, she played dead in a pile of corpses, and eventually managed to escape. One of the very few survivors of the massacre, she later told her horrifying story to writer Anatoli Kuznetsov.







All around and beneath her she could hear strange submerged sounds, groaning, choking and sobbing. . . . The whole mass of bodies were pressed tighter by the movements of the ones who were still living.

Some soldiers came out on to the ledge and flashed their torches down on the bodies, firing bullets from their revolvers into any which appeared to be still living. But someone not far from Dina went on groaning as loud as before.

Then she heard people walking near her, actually on the bodies. They were Germans who had climbed down and were bending over and taking things from the dead and occasionally firing at those which showed signs of life. . . .

One SS-man caught his foot against Dina and her appearance aroused his suspicions. . . . But she hung limp and gave no signs of life. He kicked her in the breast with his heavy boot and trod on the right hand so that the bones cracked, but he didn't use his gun and went off. . . .

A few minutes later she heard a voice calling from above: "Demidenko! Come on, start shoveling!" . . .

Her whole body was buried under the sand but she did not move until it began to cover her mouth. She was lying face upwards, breathed in some sand and started to choke, and then, scarcely realizing what she was doing, she started to struggle in a state of uncontrollable panic. . . .

With her left hand, the good one, she started scraping the sand off herself, scarcely daring to breathe lest she should start coughing; she used what strength she had left to hold the cough back. She began to feel a little easier. . . .

"Don't be scared, lady! I'm alive too."

It was a small boy in vest and pants who had crawled out as she had done. He was trembling and shivering all over.

"Quiet!" she hissed at him. "Crawl along behind me."