Holocaust survivors who endured the Nazi invasion of Soviet-era Ukraine in 1941 have appealed to Vladimir Putin to call off his invasion of the eastern European country.
On 22 June 1941, Adolf Hitler ordered the surprise invasion of Ukraine, and by the end of November nearly the entire country was under Nazi control.
An estimated 1.5 million Ukrainian Jews were killed between 1941 and 1944 as the Nazis began mass killings to implement their racial policies, according to Britannica.
In Babyn Yar – a long, steep ravine on the northwestern edge of Kyiv – around 34,000 Jews were killed in mass shootings over two days in September 1941. It is seen as one of the worst massacres of the entire Holocaust.
Now, Kyiv residents who survived Hitler’s 1941 Ukraine invasion are hiding again, this time from Russian troops and their missile attacks, in bomb shelters.
Several Holocaust survivors, in videos circulating on social media, have said the current Russian invasion brings back their memories of the horrors of the Second World War.
One such video showed three Holocaust survivors appealing to Mr Putin to call off the invasion as they seek refuge in a Kyiv bomb shelter.
“On 22 June, 1941, I faced the war and was under attack of bombs in Kyiv. My relatives died in Babyn Yar. On 24 February 2022, Kyiv is under bomb attacks and shelling again,” a woman, who identified herself as Romanova Valentyna Yosypivna, can be heard saying in a video.
“Putin! Take away your army! Get out of Ukraine! We want peace.”
A man, who identifies himself as Oleg Yakovych, can then be heard saying he was born in Kyiv in 1940.
“My relatives died in Babyn Yar. Now I am hiding in a bomb shelter and we are under enemies’ bombs,” he said.
“Putin, get out of Kyiv and Ukraine. We want peace,” he said as the crowd at the bomb shelter begins chanting peace slogans.
A third person, an elderly woman identifying herself as Lukash Tamara Oleksiivna, said she was born in Kyiv as well, just before the war in 1939.
She said that while all her relatives from her mother’s side were killed in Babyn Yar in 1941, she has now found herself hiding from Russians in 2022.
“This year, it is a horror,” she said.
“Putin I wish for you to die. Leave us you b*****d.”
Thousands of people in Kyiv and Kharkiv – Ukraine’s largest cities – have been forced to hide in bomb shelters as Russian troops continue to invade the country a week after Mr Putin had announced what he called a “special military operation” on 24 February.
On Tuesday, a Russian attack on a television tower in Kyiv also hit the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial.
The Russian invasion has resulted in a million people fleeing Ukraine, the UN’s refugee agency said on Wednesday.
More than 2,000 civilians have died since the invasion, Ukraine’s state emergency service said, although that figure has not been independently verified.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday that 9,000 Russian soldiers have been killed and called on the people of Ukraine to continue their fight against Russia.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.