60th anniversary of the Kureniv tragedy


March 13, 1961, it happened one of the largest man-made disasters in the history of Kyiv and Ukraine. 60 years ago, a thick stream of waste (pulp) of the brick factories, which was dumped into Babyn Yar, broke through the dam and flooded the Kyiv district of Kurenivka in a matter of minutes. A huge wave with an initial height of up to 14 m and a width of up to 20 m at a speed of 3-5 meters per second destroyed many buildings, killing according to officially 145 people. According to researchers, there were many more victims.

According to the official report (for official use), 68 residential and 13 administrative buildings were destroyed as a result of the man-made accident. 298 apartments were uninhabitable, including 163 private houses, which housed 353 families of 1,128 people. The total amount of losses amounted to more than 3.7 million Soviet rubles.

Authorities have long concealed and downplayed the scale and consequences of the accident. Information about her was severely censored. To prevent leaks of information about the Kureniv events outside the city, in Kyiv long-distance telephone communication was turned off for several days.

KGB officers destroyed amateur films, which recorded the accident and its terrible consequences, and removed ready-made pictures. Only three days after the catastrophe, it was announced on the city radio, but it was not reported nationwide.

The catastrophe became a bitter lesson of the consequences of negligence and irresponsibility. After all, the tragedy could not have happened if it had not been decided to flood the pulp into Babyn Yar - the place where the Nazis shot tens of thousands of people. The Kureniv catastrophe became another crime of the totalitarian Soviet regime.

For a long time, the memory of the catastrophe lived only among the people, because the authority did not want to remember the victims of its negligence.

Only during the years of state independence of Ukraine the memory of the victims of the Kureniv catastrophe properly honored every year.

On the eve of the 60th anniversary of the tragedy in the National Historical and Memorial Reserve "Babyn Yar" opened the exhibition "Kureniv tragedy: a look after 60 years", prepared by researchers of the Reserve Mykhailo Gutor and Volodymyr

Korneliuk. And also - a permanent photo-documentary exhibition "Kurenivska tragedy", which can be found on the website of the Reserve.

On March 12, 2021, Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klychko and the first President of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk unveiled the memorial installation “Look into the Past” by Oleg Shovenko on the territory of the National Historical and Memorial Reserve "Babyn Yar", dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Kureniv tragedy. The event was attended by the First Deputy Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine Rostyslav Karandeev, cultural figures, scientists, members of the public, and others.

The installation is a monument consisting of more than 100 bricks, from which the Ukrainian capital was built in different years. Monoculars are installed in the monument, in which, in particular, documentary footages of the catastrophe are displayed, which are stored in the Central State Cine Photo Phono Archives of Ukraine named after H. Pshenychnyi.

The monument was erected near the spot where a mudslide broke through a dam 60 years ago, flooding residential areas and taking the lives of hundreds of people.

During the opening ceremony, Acting Director-General of the National Historical and Memorial Reserve "Babyn Yar" Roza Tapanova said that the open installation - a memory of the Kureniv tragedy and the opportunity to see part of this terrible story, wonder why it happened, what aim was to destroy Babyn Yar for, and what came of it.

Photo report by Volodymyr Korneliuk