Operation Barbarosa, the 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union, so overwhelmed
the ill-prepared Soviets that by mid-September the Wehrmacht had occupied Kiev,
the capital of the Ukraine. The Russians fell back on guerrilla tactics to slow down
the Germans. These tactics included blowing up buildings that the Nazis requisitioned
for their headquarters and to billet troops. Not surprisingly, the Germans used their
vile practice of randomly arresting innocent citizens for summary execution. This
instance was a perfect opportunity to exterminate the Kievan Jews.
By order of Major General Kurt Eberhard, military governor, and of SS-Obergruppenführer Jeckeln,
SS and Police Leader of Army Group South, the Jews were to appear near the cemetery on the morning of
29 September 1941; by the end of 30 September 33,771 Jewish men, women, and children lay murdered at
the bottom of Babi Yar ravine. This was, apparently, the largest number of Jews exterminated in a
single "aktion" during World War II. Sonderkommando 4a, led by SS-Standartenführer Paul Blobel,
was responsible for this grotesque efficiency. (Sonderkommando 4a was a unit of Einsatzgruppe C,
commanded by SS-Brigadeführer Dr. Otto Rasch. Einsatzkommando 5, also part of Einsatzgruppe C,
was temporarily detached 100 kilometers south of Kiev "cleansing" the town of Tarashcha and surrounding
environs of its Jews.
(See Tarashcha Holocaust.)
The Germans and their local supporters continued their work at the Babi Yar ravine until
the Russians pushed the Germans out two years later. By this time, an estimated 70,000 to
100,000 additional victims - gypsies, psychiatric patients, POW's, communists, resistance
fighters - were sacrificed to the Nazis' eugenic theory.
Much has been written about Babi Yar in the seven decades since this atrocity was perpetrated
by the highly cultured German Nation.
Two historical summaries can be found in the following:
Babi Yar at Wikipedia
Babi Yar at Yivo
There is also an article about the post-war trial of the Einsatgruppen commanders: