Yevtushenko Writes to Denver Resident Praising Opening There of Babi Yar Park
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Yevtushenko Writes to Denver Resident Praising Opening There of Babi Yar Park

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Yevgeny Yevtushenko, the Soviet poet whose “Babi Yar” commemorates the Jewish victims of the Stalin regime, has written to a Denverite to praise the opening here of a Babi Yar Park. The 37-year-old poet, replying to the chairman of the park committee, who had advised him of the project, wrote in longhand: “My dear Mrs. Harry Hoffman: Thank you for your wonderful letter and for the photo of the Babi Yar Park. I hope to see your children playing in the shadow of the future trees–in the unforgettable shadow of the victims killed by the dirty hands of the left (a corruption of the German word leute, meaning people). Come a time, without a crime!” The letter was authenticated by Dr. Maurice Friedberg, a Russian literature expert of the University of Indiana, who noted that the poet “has been lying low the past two years or so.”

The letter, Dr. Friedberg said. “expresses gratification at the fact that at least in Denver, Colo., there will be a monument to these victims of Babi Yar, because there won’t be any in the Soviet Union.” The murder of thousands of Jews at the Babi Yar ravine in Kiev in 1941, when Mr. Yevtushenko was 8, instigated his controversial 1961 poem, in which he assailed anti-Semitism and took upon himself the sufferings of world Jewry, thus precipitating his persona non grata status in his native land. Mr. Yevtushenko has been reported ready to embark on another poetry-and-lecture tour of the United States. Mrs. Hoffman, who does not know Yevtushenko and wrote to him as chairman of Denver’s Babi Yar Park Commission, said the Russian poet’s letter arrived the same day that the first annual memorial service at the park was conducted on Oct. 6. Mrs. Hoffman said more than 200 persons attended services that day.

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