Nearly 80 years after the Babyn Yar massacre, Ukrainian researchers lift victims out of anonymity (Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

For most of his life, all the information Igor Kulakov had about his paternal great-grandparents was their picture, their names and the fact that they had been murdered during the Holocaust.

The assumption in his family had always been that Sheindle and Mordechai Sova were shot at Babyn Yar (often spelled “Babi Yar”), a ravine on Kyiv’s outskirts where German troops massacred at least 33,000 Jews in September 1941, in one of the largest massacres of the Holocaust.

But in recent months, Kulakov, a 45-year-old linguist who lives near Kyiv with his wife and three children, has been able to fill in many of the blanks thanks to a new research project led by the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, an organization established in 2016 to build a Holocaust museum in Kyiv. The center’s Names project — which began last year and has led to the identification of 800 Babyn Yar victims whose fates had been previously unknown — provided Kulakov with the couple’s former address, age, place of burial, as well as the terrible specifics of their final hours.  

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