Ukraine this September and October is marking the 80th anniversary sine the Nazi troops gunned down nearly 34,000 Jewish men, women and children at the wooded ravine of Babyn Yar on Sept. 29-30, 1941. Over the two years that followed, around 150,000 people in total, mostly Jews but also including Ukrainians, Russians, Poles and Roma, were killed there.
The ceremony saw the unveiling of an interactive installation "Crystal Wall of Crying" by conceptual artist Marina Abramovic. A stand-alone thick wall made of coal with large quartz crystals sticking out of it is a symbolic extension of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, Abramovic told Reuters.
In their speeches, Zelenskiy and Herzog warned against repeating Nazi crimes.
"Commemoration and remembrance are essential to all mankind against evil, cruelty and indifference," Herzog said. "So that we do not forget what kind of holocaust a person can do to a person in deed, in silence, and to what extent the hatred, ignorance, anti-Semitism and racism can get."
Zelenskiy is Ukraine's first ethnically Jewish president, although he is not publicly religious. Most of his grandfather's family was killed during the war.
In September, the Ukrainian parliament passed a law defining anti-Semitism and establishing punishments for anti-Jewish hate speech.