U.S. Department of State Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues Ellen Germain noted the importance of the memorial at Babyn Yar to perpetuate what happened on this site and tell the story of the tragedy truthfully.
"I think as long as the memorial accurately commemorates what happened at Babyn Yar and tells the story truthfully and accurately that really is the most important thing. It needs to commemorate the victims and be respectful of the tragedy of Babyn Yar and accurately and truthfully explain the fact of what happened during the massacre at Babyn Yar," Germain told Interfax-Ukraine.
She answered a question of what threats the sponsorship of Russian businessmen can pose in the project to create the Holocaust Memorial Center Babyn Yar, saying the most important thing for the United States is the complete and accurate perpetuation of the events of Babyn Yar.
"There are many different options for doing that but the overriding goal, the key is a full and accurate memorialization of the tragedy and commemoration of the victims. How that is done is a question as it is a question at all Holocaust sites and all sites of such tragedies. That is a question for discussion and debate but the outcome should be a serious and respectful commemoration that respects the facts and accurately portrays the truth on the facts of what happened and conveys the history of the tragedy," Germain said.
She said that overall, her trip to Ukraine demonstrates the United States' commitment to protecting religious freedoms, including countering Holocaust denial, countering the distortion of Holocaust facts, combating anti-Semitism, helping partner countries such as Ukraine protect Jewish heritage, focusing on victims and what can be done to help perpetuate their stories.
The U.S. Department of State special envoy for Holocaust issues drew attention to the need to preserve the Jewish heritage in Ukraine.
"We with my colleague Paul Packer [Chairman of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad] were talking about possible ways of cooperating. One of the things we discussed in Uman and in Lviv as well as with Ukrainian government officials is ways of marking or memorializing Jewish heritage sites. For example I was told that there are some 800 synagogues sites that are known around Ukraine. Of course, not all of them still exist. Many of them are being used for other things. But what about of possibility of marking those in some ways, putting historical plaque?" she said.
According to her, this is a way to remind the local population of their rich Ukrainian history.
"It is also a way of creating a kind of tourist trail when tourists come to Ukraine. There are so many Americans with Ukrainian heritage who come back to Ukraine to see their ancestrial towns and cities. It would be wonderful to be able to mark some of these areas of Jewish heritage: cemeteries, synagogues, Jewish schools," Germain said.