President Issac Herzog participated on Wednesday in the memorial service marking 80 years since the the massacre of Jews at Babi Yar, outside Kyiv during the Holocaust.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier attended as well.
"There was no colder or more awful act of murder, no more murderous representation of the “Holocaust by bullets,” than the Baby Yar Massacre," Herzog said in his speech. "There is no escaping the terrible thought that the sun rose over this valley. The birds chirped. The forest was quiet. And the butchers—they butchered."
"The establishment of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, which tells the story of the 2.5 million Jews of Eastern Europe, including 1.5 million Ukrainian Jews, who were murdered and buried in mass graves, is an important step and an important chapter in the shared history of Ukraine and Israel, of Ukraine and of the Jewish People," he said adding, "commemoration and remembrance are vital for the whole of humanity, against evil, cruelty, and apathy."
Ukraine's Holocaust memorial center on Wednesday revealed the names of 159 Nazi SS troops who took part in the killing of Jews during the Babi Yar massacre in Ukraine eight decades after one of the most infamous Nazi mass slaughters of World War II.
Nearly 34,000 Jews were killed within 48 hours in Babi Yar, a ravine in the Ukrainian capital, when Kyiv was under Nazi occupation in 1941. SS troops carried out the massacre with local collaborators.
"It is imperative to keep speaking about this horrific event and learn its lessons," Herzog said before arriving in Ukraine on Tuesday on the first state visit of his presidency.
Zelenskyy, Herzog and Steinmeier are set to also inaugurate a memorial center dedicated to the stories of Eastern European Jews who were killed and buried in mass graves during the Holocaust. Of the 2.5 million Jews, 1.5 million died in Ukraine alone.
On Wednesday, Ukraine's Holocaust memorial center revealed the initial 159 names of hundreds of Nazi troops, who took part in the Babi Yar massacre on Sept. 29-30, 1941, when 33,771 Jews were brutally murdered.
"Despite confessions, evidence and testimonies being submitted as late as the 1960s by some of the Nazi soldiers who carried out the murders, only a few of those involved ever faced justice for their heinous crimes," it said.
"They were between 20 and 60 years old," the center said. "They were educated and uneducated, they included engineers and teachers, drivers and salespeople. Some were married and some were not. The vast majority of them returned to live a normal life after the war. They testified at trial and were found not guilty, except for very few commanders, not the soldiers who carried out the horrific massacre."
Father Patrick Desbois, head of the center's academic council, said some of the 159 Nazi troops names "were shooters, others extracted the Jews from their homes, others took their belongings and their luggage. Others armed the weapons while others were serving sandwiches, tea and vodkas to the shooters. All of them are guilty."
First published: 18:03, 10.06.21