Scientific Description of the Names Project
Activities aimed at restoring the names of the victims of Babyn Yar have been carried out for a long time. In 1991-2005, several memory books/martyrologies were published. However, a complete and most importantly accurate list of the victims has not been compiled. In most cases, these publications mention only the names and surnames of people, sometimes their addresses, and any other information is provided very rarely. In addition, there are inaccuracies and mistakes. Thus, on the one hand, these lists largely duplicate each other, and on the other hand, many names are completely forgotten. The situation is made even worse by the fact that every year there are fewer and fewer living witnesses to these tragic events.
The main goal of the NAMES Project is to develop the most accurate and complete database of the victims of Babyn Yar. In this regard, our team strives to achieve several closely related objectives. We are looking for new, unknown names of people who died in Babyn Yar. We carry out verification (confirmation, addition and clarification) of information about already known names, we describe stories of victims and collect all sorts of data about their lives, we strive to restore links between the victims and their living descendants, we find archival documents and conduct their large-scale digitization.
The search method applied by the team is quite traditional. We are working with various state and industry archives, libraries, electronic databases, and communicate with people. Then analysis, comparison and generalization of the revealed data are carried out. Our work is based on an anthropological approach that focuses on an ordinary person who lived at a particular time, in a particular place. So we try not just to find a name, but also to recreate, at least in part, every personal story. We are looking for the names of all the victims of the Babyn Yar Tragedy, as well as all those who died during the occupation of Kyiv at the hands of the Nazi invaders and whose burial place is unknown. These are civilians and prisoners of war killed by the Nazis in Babyn Yar, Syrets concentration camp and prisons, dead or missing members of the underground resistance movement, arrested by the German special services and those people whose fate remained unknown. We seek to establish live contacts and work closely with the descendants of the victims.
The search for the names of victims of Babyn Yar Tragedy includes the expansion of the database of research sources, both through new readings of already known documents, and by finding new ones. First of all, these are materials of the Extraordinary State Commission for the Establishment and Investigation of the Atrocities of the German Fascist Invaders, documents on the activities of underground resistance groups in Kyiv, investigation cases against war criminals and their accomplices, etc. Very informative are the memories of direct participants and eyewitnesses of the events, residents of the city who survived the occupation, returned from evacuation or from the front. At this stage, the project team studies passport and house registers, metric books, documents of civil registry offices and address bureaus.
The project team has already organized and systematized all the previously published data (over 70,000 items were analyzed). At the same time, actual repetitions of information were removed, additions were made, obvious inaccuracies were corrected, new names were included based on findings in the archives and received information through conversations with descendants. Thus, we have created the database, which already contains more than 28,000 names (of which 965 are new and more than 3,500 are verified). In addition to the last name, first name and patronymic, address and date of birth, additional indicators have been introduced: place of birth, employment of the deceased before the war and during the occupation, nationality, circumstances of death, participation in the resistance movement, party affiliation, family ties between the deceased, photos, as well as references (including scans of archival documents) and other data.
NAMES Project is a multi-year project. Only the first, but it seems to us, successful steps have been made in its implementation. In the future, the team will check, clarify and document the existing data, as well as expand our database with new names. We will continue our research activities both in archival institutions and in the course of communication with relatives and descendants of the victims.