One of the tragic pages of Babyn Yar is the shooting of captured sailors of the Pinsk military flotilla in the winter of 1941-1942.
In the summer of 1941, the ships of the flotilla heroically defended the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv, inflicting devastating blows on enemy clusters at crossings and various unexpected places for the enemy, including the Kyiv water area of the Dnipro River.
In mid-September 1941, after completing the task, the ships of the Pinsk flotilla could not go downstream in the area of Kyiv and were blown up, and the crews in a total number of about a thousand people fought with the enemy together with the ground forces. They were concentrated near the town of Borispol, to the east of Kyiv. By that time, Soviet troops defending Kyiv were already surrounded. Land units and sailors of the flotilla made a breakthrough together. It was their last fight. The officer of the Pinsk military flotilla Kuzmin recalls: "... They advanced on a large flat field, lined with sheaves of wheat, in which German machine gunners were disguised. Under heavy mortar fire and intense shelling, the ranks of the attackers quickly decreased, fewer and fewer fighters rose for the next charge. In the afternoon the offensive was over. The field was covered with killed and wounded ... ".
The sailors, without sparing their lives, honourably performed the combat task to make access for the retreating 37th Army from Kyiv. Only a few of them were lucky enough to break through the Nazi and reunite with Soviet troops. Those who were surrounded by German troops had a tragic fate. Without ammunition, wounded and exhausted fighters were easy captured.
It was a tragedy not only of the Pinsk military flotilla but also of all the troops that were defending Kyiv. Most of the sailors of this detachment died in battles.
The exact number of sailors executed in Babyn Yar is still unknown. At the same time, there are some eyewitness testimonies, as well as many myths. Thus, after the liberation of Kyiv from the Nazis during interrogation in the Investigative Department of the KGB in the Kyiv region on November 23, 1943, a Kyiv resident N.T.Gorbachova testified that in winter 1942, 65 POW - sailors were executed in Babyn Yar.
"It was 37° below zero," said eyewitnesses, "and they walked to death barefoot, in their underpants, with bruises on their bodies." However, the sailors held on bravely and sang "The sea stretched wide."
Every year during these winter days, employees of the National Historical and Memorial Reserve "Babyn Yar" honour the memory of fallen and executed sailors, hold lectures, exhibitions.
On February 24, 2020, the photo-documentary exhibition "Pinsk Military Flotilla in Defense of Kyiv 1941" was opened on the official website of National Historical and Memorial Reserve "Babyn Yar".