New Exhibition ‘Bykivnia Graves’ in Kyiv
Teachers executed during Stalin's purges in the 1930s have been honored with a new exhibit at "Bykivnia Graves" memorial on the outskirts of Kyiv. Teachers were among the tens of thousands of Stalin's victims buried in mass graves at Bykivnia. UATV's journalists found out more about the circumstances, under which school teachers found themselves on the kill lists
A new exhibition in Bykivnia, on the outskirts of Kyiv, tells the tragic story of 18 teachers who were executed and buried in mass graves.
Along with many others labeled “enemies of the people,” ethnic German Ella Zeibert taught German in a Kyiv school. Authorities knocked on her door after she was reported by the school principal.
Zeibert was convicted for “fascist propaganda” based only on her statement that the German language should be taught by a native speaker.
At a different school in the Kyiv region, Vasyl Ivchuk was the principal and a history teacher. In 2007 he was posthumously awarded Hero of Ukraine for organizing a small farm adjacent to the school premises in an effort to save the students and his staff from starvation during Stalin’s manmade famine.
“He saved teachers and students during the Holodomor. He arranged it so they were given free breakfasts at school. According to his award documents, he saved more than 200 children and teachers,” Deputy Director of the Bykivnia National History Reserve Tetiana Sheptytska said.
So far there are 40 teachers on the list of those buried in these mass graves. Although researchers continue collecting information, it is already known that tens of thousands of people from different walks of life were executed here.
Among them was Iosif Tkach, whose great-grandson regularly visits this place to honor his memory.
“He didn’t want to join the collective farm. So they dispossessed him. His family became homeless, while he was sent to the North. We only found out about this in the early 2000s. After five years in a colony, he returned and worked at a cattle breeding facility in a collective farm. When Stalin’s ‘bloody terror’ began in 1937, as part of the Great Purge he was labeled ‘enemy of the people’ and executed,” the great-grandson of Iosif Tkach, Yuriy Tkach said.
Honoring the memory of the victims and helping the staff of the Bykivnia memorial, Yuriy comes here along with other volunteers to clean-up the enormous territory that became a final resting place for countless victims of Stalin’s regime.