KIEV – A delegation from Finland came to Kiev for a tour around Babi Yar where 100,000 people had perished during the Holocaust. The guests were learning the tragic details when visiting the places of mass-extermination during a special tour by Kiev Jewish Messianic congregation.
Kirsi Saari – a daughter of ex-Nazi soldier in Finnish battalion was one of the delegates. She shared her story.
Jewish Kiev. We are used to viewing it as something cultural and architecturally attractive: distinctive side streets of Podol, beautiful architecture, museums, and other remarkable masterpieces of Jewish architecture.
Thousands of tourists from different cities and countries visit Kiev every year. Many of them come to specifically look into Jewish history of the Ukrainian capital.
The Pale of Settlement established by Catherine II (ca. 1855) used to be here in Ukraine. In terms of the size of the territory and population, it was one of the largest Jewish settlements in history.
But! At the same time Jewish Kiev has another equally important but not as merry and colorful facet.
For Kirsi Saari a visit to Babi Yar was far from easy.
Her father was one of SS soldiers in Finnish volunteer battalion “Viking”. He served in Ukraine since 1939 till 1941 – exactly in the period when mass-extermination of Jewish people had taken place. Several years back Finnish authorities made booming confession: Finnish soldiers – SS volunteers had been involved in mass-extermination of Jews and other civilians. Until then everybody thought that the Finnish had had nothing to do with Holocaust.
“My father was a part of SS battalions.
He used to tell fascinating stories of how they had nice walks as soldiers, how everything was great.
In Kirsi’s family nobody ever mentioned concentration camps or extermination of Jews. But she was persistent and kept asking.
Few years before my father’s death I worked up the courage to ask him what had really happened in Ukraine.
He answered: Yes, I saw what was happening. Nobody treated them as humans.
He said: I prayed I didn’t have to commit any of the atrocities.
The blood is crying here. I want to ask for forgiveness on behalf of my family and Finland.:
Kirsi had learned all this not long before her father passed away. In the end he not only broke the veil of silence over the topic of the Holocaust, but he also repented.
Finnish delegates prayed as a group near the Menorah monument. They prayed that as many people as possible who were responsible for the Holocaust, as well as their descendants, would repent of their crimes for the tragedy to never happen again.
The Holocaust tragedy may have nothing to do with you directly, but there’s a possibility that somebody in your family tree is responsible for these crimes. The Holocaust is not somebody else’s history, but all of ours.
To read more news on the Holocaust on Missions Box, go here.
Sources: Global News Alliance, The Daughter of a Nazi Soldier Makes a Shocking Confession