President Steinmeier to remember German WWII crimes in Ukraine

Kiev (dpa) – German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is in Ukraine on Wednesday to commemorate German crimes during in World War II.

A wreath-laying ceremony in the village of Koryukivka and a speech on the 80th anniversary of the massacre of Jewish citizens in Babyn Jar are planned.

On September 29 and 30, 1941, German soldiers, policemen and SS men shot 33,771 Jewish residents of occupied Kiev.

By the time the Ukrainian capital was liberated by the Red Army in November 1943, around 100,000 people had been murdered in Babyn Yar, which translates as Old Women’s Gorge.

Among the victims were also prisoners of war, partisans, Roma and mentally ill people. The gorge is considered the largest mass grave in Europe.

In Koryukivka, Steinmeier is expected to recall the largest of the so-called “punitive actions” by the German occupiers against civilians during World War II.

At the beginning of March 1943, around 6,700 people were murdered there under a special SS commando in response to the Soviet partisan movement.

The village is located almost 180 kilometres north-east of Kiev in the Chernihiv region, about 30 kilometres from the Russian border.

After the wreath-laying ceremony and a visit to the city museum, the Federal President and his wife Elke Buedenbender also want to talk to pupils, teachers and local leaders from Koryukivka. In the afternoon, the commemoration ceremony in Babyn Yar is planned.

More than 80 years ago, Hitler’s Germany invaded the Soviet Union during World War II. With 27 million dead, the communist country recorded the largest number of victims in Europe.

(c) dpa-international

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