Babi Yar Triangle
This park was named in 1981, in a unanimous vote of the City Council, to commemorate one of the darkest events of World War II (1939-1945). On September 29th and 30th, 1941, Nazi Einsatzgruppe soldiers, supported by members of the Ukrainian militia, massacred 33,711 Jews in the Babi Yar ravine outside Kiev, Ukraine’s capital. Over the course of the 778 days of Nazi rule in Kiev, the ravine became a mass grave for over 100,000 people. In addition to the Jewish Ukrainians, the Nazis murdered Gypsies (Roma), physically and mentally handicapped people, Soviet Prisoners of War, homosexuals, and public dissenters of the Third Reich’s activities.
A New York City Art Commission Design Award was awarded to Krog and Tegnell Landscape Architects following their $350,000 reconstruction of this triangle in 1988. What had once been little more than a traffic island became a small, yet vibrant park. Their plans made full use of space, incorporating the memorial as well as various amenities for the community’s use. The Star of David, a universally recognized symbol of the Jewish faith, is inscribed within the center circle of the park. In its center, a bronze plaque commemorates the massacre of Babi Yar and bids visitors to remember the dead.
A Jewish enclave since the 1920s, local residents are honored to have a memorial for the victims of this massacre in their community. In the 1970s, the populace of Brighton Beach grew with the influx of a large number of Russian-Jewish immigrants. A number of Ukrainian-born Jewish immigrants were present when traditional Jewish Klezmer music and a reading of Russian author Yevgeni Yevtuchenko’s 1961 poem “Babi Yar” marked the 1989 dedication of this memorial park.
And I myself, like one long soundless scream
Above the thousands and thousands here interred,
I’m every old man executed here,
As I am every child murdered here.
Translated by Ben Okopnik
Though this park honors the memory of the dead, it is also a vibrant greenspace for the living. Babi Yar Triangle is bounded by Brighton 14th Street, Corbin Place, and Ocean View Avenue. While benches offer space for quiet contemplation, play equipment and game tables provide opportunity for recreation.