Yitzhak Herzog
Yitzhak HerzogYonatan Sindel/Flash90

Israeli President Isaac Herzog will speak at an event marking the 80th anniversary of the Babyn Yar massacre during the state visit in Ukraine.

The visit, at the invitation of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, will take place between October 5-7, 2021, and it will be the first state visit of Herzog's presidency. During the visit, President Herzog will take part in an official international ceremony marking 80 years since the Babyn Yar Massacre and inaugurating Kyiv’s Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Joining the President’s delegation will also be MK Ze’ev Elkin (New Hope), the government liaison to Ukraine, and other members of Knesset.

On the morning of Tuesday, October 5, President Herzog will fly to Ukraine, where he will begin his visit by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Kyiv and then travel to an official reception at the presidential palace, where he will be received by an honor guard. He will later meet President Zelensky, and they will issue joint statements to the press. In the evening, President Zelensky will host President Herzog at a state dinner.

On the morning of Wednesday, October 6, President Herzog will deliver an address to the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian Parliament). Later in the day he will participate in an event with the local Jewish community and meet the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who will also take part in the Babyn Yar commemoration ceremony.

In the afternoon of Wednesday, October 6, President Isaac Herzog will deliver a speech at the official commemoration ceremony marking 80 years since the Babyn Yar massacre, at the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center in Kyiv.

The Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center is currently being built in order to immortalize the stories of the 2.5 million Jews of Eastern Europe, including 1.5 million in Ukraine alone, murdered and buried in mass graves near their homes during the Holocaust. Over the past year, a number of memorials have been erected at the site of the Holocaust-era massacre as part of the establishment of an innovative and expansive museum complex across the whole of the Babyn Yar area. The establishment of the new center is being guided by public figures and leaders from around the world, chiefly Natan Sharansky, the chairman of the board of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center.

On Thursday (October 7), President Herzog will fly back to Israel.

Ahead of his first state visit, Herzog said: “It is imperative to keep speaking about this horrific event and learn its lessons. The Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center is an important site for the commemoration of this painful memory and for the declaration that we must continue making together: Never again.”

“The only way to build a present and future in which atrocities and crimes against humanity can find no foothold is to study the past, including the Holocaust and persecution of the Jewish People, in the spirit of the commandment ‘and you shall tell your son and daughter.’ I welcome President Zelensky’s invitation and his commitment to the war against anti-Semitism.”

Following the announcement of President Herzog's visit to Ukraine, Natan Sharansky commented: Natan Sharansky, commented: “We are deeply honored that President Herzog will be leading the Israeli delegation at this important and historic event. Babyn Yar is a symbol for millions of Jews and Israelis, for the nation of Ukraine, and serves as a lesson for humanity as a whole."

“We are grateful to our host, President Zelensky of Ukraine, for his commitment to historical memory and for promoting awareness of the Babyn Yar massacre, in particular through his support of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center.

“The high level participation at the commemoration highlights the continued importance of remembrance and education of all aspects of the Holocaust – including the lesser known story of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe known as the “Holocaust by Bullets”. This is the only way to truly honor the memory of the victims, and learn the vital lessons of the past.”